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!
One of the multiple problematic things happening in our government is Trump appointing Robert F. Kennedy Jr, an anti-vaxxer who believes there is a conspiracy to hide the effects of thimerosal on children, to chair a panel on vaccine safety and to revive the “debate” on vaccine safety. As the parent of an autistic child, this angers and worries me.
Before kids, I was very picky about how my DVDs and books were shelved. Having volunteered at a library in my youth, I even group my books by subject matter and then alphabetized them. Having my DVDs and books out of order is disturbing for me. And then I had kids.
When I was a teenager, my mom worked for several years with a nonprofit that focused on preventing child abuse. She taught parenting classes and classes on what child abuse looks. Later I followed in this path, teaching parenting classes to adults who had lost custody of their children due to abuse or neglect. One conflict both my mother and I got into with people was whether or not it was okay to spank children. My mother would point out that my sister and I were never spanked and we were extremely well behaved teenagers. My sister and I were the Hermione Grangers of our schools, we wouldn’t think about breaking the rules. People would tell her my sister and I were naturally good and positive parenting wouldn’t work with most children. Well, now I have a son with autism, and we have struggled with undesirable behavior.
Today one of Buddy’s classmates aged out of the autism therapy program that Buddy is in. While Buddy still has a year and two months before he ages out, it woke me up to the fact that I have about a year to figure out where do we go from here. And considering the dearth of autism support in my area, it’s a scary question I’d better started researching.
It was a beautiful morning at the playground and Buddy and Sissy were having a good time, when a little girl came up with her mother. She was the type of child I get hopeful about when I see on the playground because she was outgoing and bubbly, two traits that tend to help Buddy come out of his shell and socialize. Like I predicted, she came up and started talking to Buddy. And her mother started apologizing for her.
Recently, an acquaintance told me she heard something about how taking Buddy to a chiropractor could cure him of autism. I told her I was rather skeptical of such things, and that I’m not looking for a cure. Amazingly it was the first time I was confronted with unsolicited cure talk, but I know other parents get it. And I can see why it gets old fast. In short, I’m not looking for a cure or a miracle. My goal is to accept my son. My hope is that others will accept him.