Saturday, December 27, 2008

Autism's Night Before Christmas

I came across this poem through an on-line support group in the King County area for parents of kids with Autism. I felt that it embodied pretty much all the challenges and joys of raising a child with Autism. It's the most heart-breaking thing to watch your child struggle with the simplest tasks but it also gives you the most overwhelming joy to witness (and maybe help a little) his success and achievements...even if they are small ones. As this year comes to an end, I can say that although Autism was not welcomed in our family, we're all better because of its arrival. We're all a little more patient, a little more tolerant, a little more understanding and a whole lot more compassionate after the "boot camp" we have gone through preparing for this life-long battle. We did have an awesome Christmas holiday and now it's on to the new year and to all its new challenges and rewards. BRING IT ON 2009, the De Armas are ready to roll!

The Night Before Christmas, from the world of autism
A Walk in My Shoes
C. Waeltermann, 2007

Twas the Night Before Christmas
And all through the house
The creatures were stirring
Yes, even the mouse
We tried melatonin
And gave a hot bath
But the holiday jitters
They always distract
The children were finally
All nestled in bed
When nightmares of terror
Ran through my OWN head
Did I get the right gift
The right color
And style
Would there be a tantrum
Or even, maybe, a smile?
Our relatives come
But they don't understand
The pleasure he gets
Just from flapping his hands.
"He needs discipline," they say
"Just a well-needed smack,
You must learn to parent.."
And on goes the attack
We smile and nod
Because we know deep inside
The argument is moot
Let them all take a side
We know what it's like
To live with the spectrum
The struggles and triumphs
Achievements, regressions….
But what they don't know
And what they don't see
Is the joy that we feel
Over simplicity
He said "hello"
He ate something green!
He told his first lie!
He did not cause a scene!
He peed on the potty
Who cares if he's ten,
He stopped saying the same thing
Again and again!
Others don't realize
Just how we can cope
How we bravely hang on
At the end of our rope
But what they don't see
Is the joy we can't hide
When our children with autism
Make the tiniest stride
We may look at others
Without the problems we face
With jealousy, hatred
Or even distaste,
But what they don't know
Nor sometimes do we
Is that children with autism
Bring simplicity.
We don't get excited
Over expensive things
We jump for joy
With the progress work brings
Children with autism
Try hard every day
That they make us proud
More than words can say.
They work even harder
Than you or I
To achieve something small
To reach a star in the sky
So to those who don't get it
Or can't get a clue
Take a walk in my shoes
And I'll assure you…
That even 10 minutes
Into the walk
You'll look at me
With respect, even shock.
You will realize
What it is I go through
And the next time you judge
I can assure you
That you won't say a thing
You'll be quiet and learn,
Like the years that I did
When the tables were turned

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