Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Autism...just one of many facets of our family

There is a point when you realize that it all has been worth it.

I walked out to the van this morning (as we are all packing to head to Florida) and Patrick, my six year old son who has autism, was sitting in the back seat between his brothers. He was looking the other direction (he had just arrived with his grandparents). I said "Patrick" and he turned to look at me. "Good Morning" I say, "Good Morning Mama" he replies in a very "perfectly practiced" voice.

"Nice answer" was my reply. Hmm. All of a sudden it hit me. The eye contact, responding to his name....WOW. What a big improvement over a one year old child that had blocked out everything in his life to the point we all thought he was deaf.

Today the whole family....my husband, four children ages 4,5,6,and 7, and two grandparents are all packed into the car and we are heading to the airport. Patrick is very excited, maybe to the point of being overstimulated, and he has asked us a million times about the "airport" and the "beach." I am heading to the Galaxy International Pageant in Florida and we are doing double duty by also getting Patrick an IVIG treatment at his doctor while we are down here. This will be his third IVIG and so far we are seeing improvements in language and overall stiminess.

I wanted to try IVIG for awhile but I got so beat down by all the biomedical and all the supplements that I didn't know what to do. We are doing very few supplements right now but at one point we did at least fifty a day and maybe more. I remember when he was little that we had to mix it and then put some juice in the mixture so we could force it down him with a medicine dropper. It wasn't fun doing this five times daily. I had a chart I made on Excel that was broken down into morning, mid morning, noon, afternoon and dinner. Our lives revolved around the medicine schedule.

I am not sure what really precipitated our turning point. After four kids I was so out of shape I could barely walk up my stairs. In 2006 I got in the best shape of my life. Obviously a mental (and physical....and emotional) turning point for me. I know it might sound impossible to many of you but I urge you.....just do it. A strong, healthy body will empower a strong, healthy mind and that means....YES, you guessed it....a stronger, healthier you.

Our family doesn't let autism rule our life. I think that is what we learned and what got us to this place. When Patrick was 2 and 3 autism ruled our house. No longer. It isn't every book we read and every thing we do. We refuse to let our lives revolve around it. We didn't purposely do this but it was much later that I realized it had happened. I'm not even sure how it happened but it just did...Thank God.

I made the realization after I had to type a paragraph about my children for a magazine article, I don't even remember which one. The paragraph went like this: "Rosemary is 7, she enjoys raising puppies and doing gymnastics; Patrick is 6, he likes trains and drawing, he also has autism; Robert, 5, likes "helping" and wants to be a race car driver; Joe, 4, thinks he is a girl right now and loves watching Spongebob." Autism is just one of the many, many varied facets of our family.

But it doesn't rule us.