Everyone has New Year’s resolutions, but autism moms must be especially persistent and may need to work harder than neurotypical parents to maintain a sense of humor. Seeing success in the face of failure can be different for parents of adult kids on the spectrum. Sometimes an unpleasant situation has a silver lining. (I admit that those silver linings are often hard to find in the midst of disappointment and anger).
For example, I had an extremely difficult and unpleasant conversation with Samantha’s endocrinologist, whose job for almost two years has been to help my daughter LOSE weight. He believes his job is to “keep her healthy” and hopefully prevent her from gaining more weight. The doctor thinks he has achieved success because my daughter’s “BMI is normal” and she is not obese. Here I should mention that my daughter has lost and regained 25 pounds during the time he has treated her and we have paid him several thousand dollars. That looks like total failure to me. The idea floated by the doctor that “it could be a lot worse” is not why I went to see him. The fact that the world—and the entertainment business in particular—mostly does NOT hire overweight “healthy” women and rarely hires people with disabilities—does not change his perspective. We literally can’t (and never will) see eye to eye. He’s a privileged, white male doctor with neurotypical kids and I’m an autism mom. The silver lining? Samantha saw that two angry adults with opposing viewpoints are capable of having an animated-but-civilized debate. Even if she never loses weight, I feel she learned a valuable lesson.
We have another appointment to see this doctor in April. Will we keep the appointment? I tell Samantha that we can always cancel if I get a better idea or another doctor referral. Our discussion then shifted to keeping our options open and being flexible—another lesson and silver lining.
My list is by no means complete, but I don’t want to create Mission Impossible.
- Learn to have the patience of 10 saints, instead of just one.
- Be an example of respectful and civilized disagreement. (I hope the neurotypical world will join me).
- Try to give up all diet soda and persuade my kids to do the same.
- Set a good example as a problem-solver. Remain calm in as many stressful situations as possible, so my daughter can learn through our shared experience.
- Always combine honesty with kindness.
- Try to help my twins improve their relationship with each other. Model tolerance.
- Remember to take care of myself and dance as much as possible.
- Have as much fun as time and money will allow.
- Help EPIC raise more money and get more publicity.
- Write more.
- Laugh more.
- Sleep more.
- Never run out of Pink Lady apples or Hershey’s dark chocolate kisses.
- Grab opportunities to relax…. They are few and far between.
- Help Samantha find a part time, paying job working with young kids.
- Seek out more performance opportunities for my daughter.
- Take Samantha to the opera because she would love it (even though I’m not a fan).
- See more of the world.
- Schedule more girl time.
- Try not to let newspaper headlines and/or politics ruin my day.
Perhaps I’m being over-ambitious. But I always urge Samantha to shoot for the moon, so maybe I need to follow my own advice.