Day 25 - A picture of you last year and how you've changed since then
This time last year, Ben was just getting diagnosed. (this picture is actually AFTER the diagnosis, but it turns out I was avoiding cameras for a good 6 months) We were jumping through hoop A to enter Maze B in order to get service C, and I was at the end of my rope. Not only was I trying to deal with the reality that almost everyone, including professionals, had denied for so long, but I was having to deal with every moron in the system that is allowed to push paper.
(now, let me state that I have a great love for a paper-pusher who can do their job well. My mother is one of those people, who can manage papers and such items with efficiency and aplomb, and I hold other paper-pushers up to her standard. I understand there are budget and pay-cuts, and that some parents who call similar or same agencies are absolute d-bags with no sense of propriety or manners. But perhaps it is not prudent to assume all parents are that person--or worse, force me to BECOME that person in order to get shit done. I was nice for a month. Then I threatened an advocate and a lawyer--pure bluff, mind-- and dropped a couple curse words. Amazingly, shit happened after that… Morons.)
This time last year, I knew no other parents in my situation. And my friends with typical kids were drifting away. I was becoming an island, and it wasn't suiting me well. I mean, I get that I am a hermit and all, but even a hermit needs a volleyball to talk to. This time last year, I cried at the drop of a hat, barely had the energy to get out of bed, let alone shower, minimally kept house, and pretty much gave up. Well, that's not true. I wouldn’t be where I am now if I had just given up. But I was certainly residing in a pile of my own pity.
Those early days of diagnoses and drama are rough for any parent--whether you think you are prepared or not. And I wouldn't wish them on my worst enemy. Yeah, even her. Wouldn't wish it on her. Boils or monkeypox maybe, but not this.
What changed me? Time really. Getting the dx and then getting Ben into school helped. Getting him services (FINALLY) from the otherwise stated moronic agency also helped. Respite. Blessed, blessed Respite. And starting this blog. (Hell, starting this blog kept me from taking an automatic weapon down to the local Dairy Queen and demanding a six month supply of Dilly Bars.) In joining the Autism parent community of bloggers, I realized I was not alone in my snarky view of this disorder--and THAT helped tremendously. I was tired of reading about blessings and rainbows and unicorn poo, and all the other Autism stories that started with "this disorder has been the greatest blessing of my life…" Spoiler: as eye-opening and growth-inducing as a child's diagnosis of Autism can be, it isn't all leprechauns and marshmallow surprises. Some days you are out of milk and the only thing available is the Grape Nuts that have been sitting in your pantry for over a year. And some days just need to start with a cocktail. Or 4. The "blessing" is that I can actually write that down and know that there are a number of parents out there who actually feel me, and are not rushing to call Child Protective Services.
This year has been a hell of a ride. And I've learned more than I will EVER need to know about state agencies, Autism and how to mix the perfect Apple-tini. Yeah, in odd moments I will admit that this whole adventure has made me a better parent, and prolly a better person. But don't tell anyone. I don't want to give the impression I've got any unicorn stables over here...