Remember everything you said you’d never do before you became a parent? Yeah… that.
This past Wednesday, in my mad quest to buy red lentils, I forgot to buy the other ingredient I needed. So, I asked my husband to go to the store and buy me some pie crusts. He came home with two lovely, but tiny six-inch pie crusts. I prepared the pies same as always, but wasn’t sure what to do with all the extra filling. I didn’t want pumpkin flan, and I didn’t have it in me to send him back to the (packed) store again, so I started rolling out another crust, this time from scratch. With no regular salt on hand, I substituted kosher salt. By the time I was finished I had two small pies, one regular size pie, and one spare homemade pie crust (that yesterday became a mozzarella and provolone Quiche).
I like cooking, but cooking is… strange, almost mythically strange. Some ingredients are vital. Others can be omitted or changed without anyone noticing. And quite often two ingredients that you would never expect to work together taste amazing. Good cooking is part art, part science experiment, and the tastiest food requires keeping an open mind.
Before my husband and I had kids we were emphatic about certain things. There were all sorts of things we were never going to do. Then the reality of life with an autistic kid set in. He finally potty-trained (later than I care to admit), and after that, it was “Now what?” It’s been a constantly evolving process of “What else can we do to make life more manageable for our family?”
And as it turns out, when you’re desperate enough, you’re willing to entertain ideas you thought you wouldn’t.
It was a huge decision to put our son on Prozac and a huge surprise when it actually helped. Michael went from regularly having tantrums (both at home and at school) to being much calmer. His teachers and therapists can’t even believe he’s the same kid. His bad behavior had become so commonplace, that one day he overturned a desk, and we didn’t even get a phone call. I found out later that evening while reading his communication notebook.
However, even as his behaviors have improved, his attention span is still very short and his social skills continue to need a lot of sharpening. As he gets older, tasks become harder and require more effort and concentration. Although he’s eight, his attention span is roughly the same as his three-year-old sister. Things like chapter books are difficult for him, and homework typically takes over an hour every day, with most of that time spent on redirection. Also, he frequently self-injures from running in circles. Though he has a cognitive behavioral therapist who tries to teach him how to relax and focus, it’s really not enough. It’s become increasingly clear that he’s going to remain in the self-contained classroom, in part because he needs constant redirection.
Having seen firsthand just how helpful the Prozac is, we went back to the psychiatrist this morning, and had another conversation about medication, this time for ADHD. We’re not doing it yet, but I suspect it’s just a matter of time. I’m nervous about it. Hope is tricky because it’s so necessary… but it can also make the fall that much steeper.
You change a lot when you have a special needs kid. Some days you feel like the old woman in the shoe, with white hairs multiplying at an alarming rate. Other days you feel like you have a handle on things, even when they don’t go according to plan. Instead you learn to keep your mind open. Life is easier when you don’t panic every time you run out of salt.
You learn that most things are small.
*I am absolutely NOT endorsing any particular treatment for autism. I don’t think there is any one cure, and each family needs to find what works best for them and their child. I’m also not endorsing the deliberate wreckage of tasty baked goods.
**Photo Credit: Freezing A Moment Photography