Friday, March 19, 2010

Accepting Reality

On Tuesday I went to look at a school for my 15 year old autistic son. My son is one of the loves of my life. I adore him, and can't stand to be parted from him.

But the school I looked at on Tuesday was a residential program. If he goes there, he'll be living there most of the time.

This has been a new journey for me. After 12 years in the public school system here in town (he started when he was three), I have come to the realization that the local school system can no longer meet his needs. He still can't dress himself independently or tie a shoe-lace. I have to shower him, and he has no social life. He goes to school and then comes home and is entertained whenever my husband or I have the time. He spends his down time mostly engaging in autistic behaviors, or, doing that thing that teen-age boys are apt to do.

Last summer my son went to a sleep away camp for special needs kids, and he loved it. He had friends, and the staff kept him engaged 24/7. Whenever we spoke with him on the phone, you couldn't help but notice how happy he was. For once he was just one of the crowd, not the "weird" kid.

So here I was on Tuesday looking at a school that would send my baby away. It's a hard realization, and a far cry from were I was 12 years ago when I originally got his diagnosis.

Back then, I thought I'd eventually find some "cure" and that in the end, everything would be all right. He'd go to college, get married, have kids yada, yada, yada. But after years of chasing various miracle diets, therapies and spending tons of money, he was were we started: an adorable loving boy, with an IQ below 80 and severe communications delays.

So now I have to face reality. My son will need life-long care, and although I want to now keep him with me, I can't. I'd be placing my own needs before his own. He needs to be somewhere they can really teach daily living skills and a vocation and provide him with a social life on his level.

Losing weight and maintaining it is a lot like that as well. We've all tried the fad diets, the miracle therapies that were supposed to shed pounds, but in the long run nothing works. The only thing that does work is hard work. You have to eat less and exercise more.

Facing reality is hard, but in the end, we all have to face it.


  1. My heart goes out to you. Hopefully you'll get to visit often and you can rest assured he's probably having the time of his life at school.

  2. I hope you find a wonderful school very close by. I didn't realize you had an autistic son. Mine is on the spectrum as well, and he too is just about the best person I know (tied with his dad).

  3. This school is just an hour and fifteen minutes away. It's the first program I looked at and I don't know if the school will go along with it.

  4. I wish you all the best in this decision process. Recognizing you can't be everything to a child is a hard thing to accept. The role you play for him goes beyond a typical child and extricating your own identity when this role might lessen is also hard to fathom.
    Peace in your heart & to all you hold close!