Sunday, September 4, 2011

"I can't find any of the kids"

I have found that sometimes having a "Mainstreaming into Third Grade Meltdown" can provide for one the time and opportunity to do things that one normally is not able to do.

Yesterday was sweltering hot. Yuck. Not my kind of weather. On those days, I prefer to stay in an air-conditioned building and live in complete denial of the outside weather. That's why, when my husband mentioned taking the boys to our local amusement/water park, oy, I sat very, very still.

I waited. And I waaiiited. Nope, it didn't look like he was going to ask me!

Woo hoo! And, I wasn't going to volunteer! This has never, ever happened. But,I'd just spent most of the night before and so far three hours of the morning crying hysterically over the notion of attempting to mainstream our younger son into a typical third grade classroom. I looked and felt a mess.

A friend of mine then called with a glorious invitation: her daughter wanted our younger son to play with her at that same park. Was I dreaming? This lifted the burden from my husband, who now only had to concentrate on our older child. And, my friend is a dynamo. Her daughter also has autism and is a bit older than our younger son, and the experience my friend has gained as her mom has made her practically invincible. It was the perfect formula!

Several backpacks, bathing suits, sunscreen snacks and extra clothes later, I send them out the door and sat my pathetic self down in a quiet house. My tears have sat just barely beneath the surface for days. I must take control. So, I did what any emotionally beaten mother would do with time on her hands.

Retail therapy.

I never do retail therapy. Let me rephrase that. I had extensive training in retail therapy in my formative years and throughout my collegiate days. However, since becoming a mother to autism, we now fund the cost of the disability that insurance won't. Sigh.

It's amazing how fast time flies when you are dedicating yourself to your therapy.

This can be a mommy purse....

...if you want it to be.

By day's end, I has some new Mom Cave items! And, I was just preparing to take some pictures of them for my friends when the phone rang. It was my husband. His story was somewhat frantic but, in a nutshell, he was standing in the water park, in the middle of a pack of people, and he had no children with him.

This was not a good thing, because he couldn't even SEE any of the children that were on his watch.

From what I gathered, he came to that section of the park to be with our younger son while his friend went somewhere else. However, as he arrived with our older son, our older son found a brief opportunity to turn around and BOLT into the crowd. My friend, the dynamo, took off after him. Her daughter ran after her mommy--I think? No real verification of this?--and husband turned around to find younger son gone.

Great. Three kids with autism had successfully vanished into a crowded amusement park. Somehow, mainstreaming into third grade didn't seem so scary any more.

"Waste no time," I told him. "Alert every authority near you. Give them physical descriptions as well as developmental. If you see them nearby, ask people for help in grabbing them."

In the past, this has not been our approach. I think once your ego is gone, it becomes much easier.

I once shut down our local Target for a few minutes when our son managed to bolt from me. It's rare that he manages to get out of my sight completely, but, since he did, I had to consider the worst options for his actions. If he ran out the front door, he could get killed. He has no danger awareness. I ran to the front of the store and yelled to all the cashiers that my child with autism had gotten away from me and he would try to get out the doors. He's friendly but he can't talk. Please secure the doors. What about the storage rooms? Electrical boxes? Anything out that is unsafe, the least of which is food somewhere that will have his gastric system in a tailspin for months. Customers started to help me and were yelling across the aisles when they thought they had a sighting. In the end, it was a customer--not an employee--who found him. Sitting happily up on a shelf inside of a pack 'n play. He was enjoying the music from the mobile and watching us make fools of ourselves. I was so thankful to have shed my ego long ago so that I could reach out to those around me.

When you lose a child, particularly a child with a disability, this is not the time to be proud.

The Dynamo caught up to our older son and had several security guards keep him pinned into an area while she got my husband. They later found our younger son in a hidden area of the pool, oblivious that anyone had left and mad at the world that he had to leave what he was doing to look for his friend.

Eventually, my husband found my friend's daughter a good bit away from the water park. She had discovered the video arcade and was having a glorious time. No children were hurt, and the parents were definitely ready to leave.

This morning, I reviewed the string of texts that were flying back and forth as this had happened. My husband texting to me. I drew in two of my other friends, all three of us ready to bring in more help if needed.

Those texts, for some reason, reminded me of those days when we were so protective of our older son. We didn't want anyone to know his challenges for fear that he would be labeled and ridiculed. Yes, our care providers talked to us, but we were driven by emotion to protect him. What would we have done if he had gotten out of our sight at that time in our lives? I know that we would not have cried out to those around us. I know that we would not have alerted authorities of his autism.

I shudder to think that our steadfast efforts to protect him at that time could have also put him in harm's way.

1 comment:

  1. The shedding of the ego is a parental necessity. They don't tell you that in Lamaze class.

    Oh, and I popped in here to give you a bloggity-award: :O)