The death of Stephen Hawking stirred up some things for me. Seeing him described as so inspirational because of what he did while disabled struck a nerve. Like Hawking, I am disabled, but in a very different way. I am autistic and I have several learning disabilities. Unlike Hawking, I am not a brilliant scientist and I haven’t contributed something amazing to the world.
I’m in several Facebook groups with other non-religious mothers, and these have been a lifeline for me. Lately I have noticed a few posts asking how to handle Halloween because they don’t like teaching about magic and make believe. These people seem to be solidly in the minority, with most people commenting that it’s just a time to dress up, get scared, and pretend. Considering Halloween is my favorite holiday, I tend to shake my head a little at how some people seem to think that exposing children to make believe leads to beliefs in the supernatural. I was raised by atheists, and growing up we knew Halloween was pretend and make believe, and we still had fun. And what I think parents are missing when they stress out about Halloween and imaginary play is that it is important for child development to engage in pretend and imaginary play!
Right now, I am at my limit with Republican efforts to repeal the ACA. Frankly, if you have no health complications and your children also have no health complications, that’s not an accomplishment. That is luck. And that luck can change in an instant, and then perhaps you can understand how hateful this feels, how this feel like a constant attack from the government on my family’s ability to provide for our children and our children’s ability to live.
I’m still emotionally reeling from an encounter I had with someone who does not have kids about the cleanliness of my house. The messages I got was that she was wondering about my mental state because I couldn’t keep up with the housekeeping, and that she did not feel that the way I kept my house was acceptable and I needed to do better. Both of these were a slap in the face to me, especially because I do work hard on the house, but most people never see it. I have a sensory seeking autistic 6 year old boy who I nickname Wreck It and I have a 3 year old, so my house needs some sprucing up. I also own my own business and I supplement the schooling my son gets through his therapy with a little bit of homeschooling. In other words, I am working four jobs per week, and since Buddy’s therapy is so expensive, even with insurance, we are spinning our wheels just to be able to afford that (it’s basically another mortgage), forget hiring housekeeping! I think I’m allowed to let the housekeeping slide.
My autistic son, Buddy, will be aging out of his therapeutic day program for autistic children in November, and transition to a program that is just a few hours in the afternoon. When this happens we will homeschool him, for reasons I have gone over the reasons for doing this in previous blog entries, and the simple explanation is we live in Texas and they treat children with special needs horribly and our experience with sending him to public school was horrible.
I have a friend with a 3 year old, and every time I see that boy I can tell it’s just a matter of time before he gets an autism diagnosis. What baffles me is that despite pleadings from the 3 year old’s speech therapist and pediatrician to get him evaluated for autism, my friend insists that he is not autistic and that there is no need to have this done. Given that when Buddy was three I was jumping through hoops to get him screened just in case and I still feel bad and as though I didn’t do enough to get him in intensive services at an early age (Buddy was always right on that border where the diagnostician was worried about overdiagnosing him, until he turned 4 and the communication gap made it undeniable). My reasoning was it would be better to over treat him when he was younger than to delay and miss that golden time when the brain is most plastic and he would get the most benefit from therapy. Yet, it also really serves to show the difference between my worldview as an atheist and hers as an Evangelical Christian.
My grandmother is going into hospice this week. I was expecting this, and feel prepared. I know she was ready to die three years ago when she first got sick, and I mostly hope that her suffering ends soon. I then turned to the task of trying to explain this to my autistic 6 year old and my 3 year old. I sat down once and told them that G.G.Ma was very sick and likely wouldn’t be with us for much longer, and it went over their heads. So as I was driving I thought that I should get a children’s book about death. I love reading to my children, and Buddy learns best when I read to him.