What is enough?

I’ve been struggling the past couple weeks with finding a good mix between too little or too much interventions for my son.  On one hand I understand doing everything in your power, but on the other hand, I just want my son to be happy.  I also understand that early interventions are best. But I think a  huge part of being a happy pre-schooler is just having free open time just to be who he’ll be and play.  I recently saw a television program following a family through the journey to find working interventions.  Honestly, as I watched this story unfold on television, the thing that stood out in my mind the most, was poor kid, he just seems so poked and prodded.  How can one tell which intervention is working when you’re doing a dozen or so at once?  It just felt so invasive to me.

On the other hand, those offering well-meaning advise often makes me feel inadequate as a parent.  No I’m not yet doing bio-med interventions.  I haven’t read all the best books yet. I can’t afford developmental therapy right now.  But I’m not sticking my head in the sand.  I just have my own philosphy of how to implement things.  In the past Eight months we’ve added in speech therapy, occupational therapy, full-time preschool, a father moving out of state, and a toy overhaul.  It may not seem like much but I like to observe my son and see how he does with each change and allow time to adjust.    I started with a very happy toddler, and I don’t want to change that because at age two-and-a-half he received the label of autism.

Everything  isn’t perfect, we go through phases where he stims more, or shows physical frustration with crashing or headbutting.  He still cries at occupational therapy. He has regressed to eating with his hands again.  Even though it’s not perfect, I’m really happy with the progress he has made, especially socially.   He has gone from avoiding other kids, to playing side-by-side to actively engaging them in play. He keeps adding words to his vocabulary, and has started putting two words together more often.  I’m not sure where we’ll go next, or how long it will take for me to observe if the intervention is working.  We’re still working out a good sensory diet, and this week I’ve stared therapeutic brushing at home, along with essential oil massages.

I’m struggling between recovery and acceptance.   The bad thing is that part of me believes in both.

8 Responses to “What is enough?”

  1. Mary Sowell Says:

    Melissa, I struggle with decisions like this for Suzanne and she doesn’t have special needs like Caden. I think most parent do.

    At the end of the day, I see a happy child who is happy in part because I’m comfortable with the decisions I’ve made about her life. In other words, if you’re not happy with a therapy you’ve tried, or if you’re overwhelmed with information or an overloaded schedule, Caden will be too. And not just from your reactions, but because he has your genes and will probably respond to anxiety just as you do.

    Take you indecisiveness in stride, it’s just another way of being a good parent. 🙂

  2. Rachel Says:

    Hi Melissa,

    If there’s one thing I’ve learned from being a parent, it’s that almost all kids in America fall into one of two categories: those who are completely neglected, and those who are overscheduled to the point of absolute absurdity. With my daughter, we tried to keep it simple, and we did just what you’re doing–we gave her time to be a KID. It goes by SO quickly, it’s mind-boggling. So hugs, kudos, support, encouragement, and atta girl to you for giving Cade a childhood. It’s the emotional cushion that everyone needs to function as a healthy adult.

    On a related note: There’s a study that came out a few years ago showing that independence did not necessarily equal happiness for autistic people. Quality of life for autistic people has more to do with having supportive family and friends who can help with things. After a lifetime of being determined to do everything myself, I’m realizing that there are simply things I need help with, and always will. And that makes me no different from anyone else in the world. No one lives independently. Everyone needs family and friends. We autistic folk just have a different set of needs is all.

    • Melissa Says:

      Thanks Rachael. I had wondered what input you would have as an aspie, as well as a parent. You’ve always described things so tangibly for me. I really liked your recent statment about how culture doesn’t make things easy for you. That really struck a chord with me. I want to help him suceed in the whole world, not just our oasis of a home. I can tailor our environment, but he will need more than that to make it outside the house.

  3. Rachel Says:

    It’s such a hard balance for every parent: how do you support your kid’s uniqueness while helping your kid “succeed” in the world. I think the most important thing is to have as simple and flexible a sense of “success” as possible.

    When I was getting ready to go to college, I didn’t know why I was going. That was because, as an autistic person, my concerns were more basic. I didn’t know that I was autistic at the time, of course, but looking back, I can see that my real goals were very ordinary: get a job, pay the rent, learn how to feel comfortable in my own skin, have some fun. Everyone around me was pressuring me about getting into the best college, as though it mattered. It didn’t matter. I burned up a lot of energy trying to do things that I wasn’t suited for. Now I do the things I love. That’s success for me.

  4. KDL Says:

    I have always wondered with my daughter whether I am doing too much of something. When she was smaller I worried that I was feeding her too much. Ironically within moments I could look at things from a different angle and wonder if I was feeding her too little. Turns out I was always trying to explain who she is based on what I was doing…which doesn’t work very well. I have (after lots of practice) learned to end these debates with myself by saying, “Those two things couldn’t possibly be true at the same time…you’re doing fine.” I also agree that interventions/therapies should be given trial periods in between adding new things. “Scientifically” if you do too much at once you’re not going to be able to figure out which ones are helping most. We have been advised to try mainstream treatments and therapies first and if we have energy (and money) left over then consider alternative ideas. So far we’re making progress with the mainstream practices.

    • Melissa Says:

      I’ve definately done some soul-searching and research this weekend, and beleve that I too am going to keep going with mainstream therapies, as I’m already seeing progress. Developmental therapy is next, hopefully I can get it at his school, because I don’t know how else to fit it in our schedule.

      Thank you for your input, it’s nice to have support from other people who chose to do mainstream first!

  5. Mindy Says:

    I just found your beautiful blog on your siggie at autismweb. Thank you–you are a great writer and describe very similar feelings as mine. My blog about my son is samthelizard.blogspot.com.


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