The first sentiment I wish to express is directed to the parents and residents of Newtown,CT. I cannot begin to understand your loss or pain; no one can. You have not only mine, but the love and support of a nation who unconditionally grieves with you.
“I don’t understand. Those children won’t be able to go on with their lives because they were murdered by a very hostile individual.”
This is the response to the Newtown, CT tragedy from my nine-year-old son — my son who has several diagnosis, including Asperger’s.
Since Dec. 14, 2012, the media has crucified Autistic/Asperger individuals relentlessly by airing newscasts stating that the shooter, Adam Lanza, was diagnosed with Asperger’s Disorder. The media has shown ignorance, discriminatory regard for an entire class of innocent citizens with no intent to investigate further and clarify while inflaming a nation in multiple ways. The nation has responded with Internet, Facebook and blog posts declaiming this sloppy reporting and erroneous suggestion that Asperger individuals are violent or mass murderers. Several prominent parents of Asperger children have come to their defense in inspiring blog posts.
I began writing, thinking I wasn’t creating this treatise in defense of my Autistic/Asperger son, Connor. However, I believe the nature of his spirit, his progress and the innocent child he is comes through in the tale. Instead, this is the story of some recent difficulties in the life of a family with two special needs children, one of them Autistic/Asperger’s, and how this community responded with love. Studies show 60-90 percent of marriages with special needs/autistic children end in divorce.
In August, I found out I was in the middle of a divorce with two special needs children. During the marriage, I had concentrated on the children, a mutually agreed-upon role. Now I found the finances in even worse shape than I feared – with no ideas for salvation. Bill collectors called daily, grocery and prescription medicine money was so tight I had to start deciding between them and both old vehicles broke down at the same time. I fought my spiraling depression by telling myself how much the children needed me for stability, educational, therapy and medical care. Anxiety racked me so hard my entire body shook for most of the day.
We tried keeping our discussions negotiating the end of our marriage to being quietly after bedtime. My Bipolar/ADHD/Anxiety/LHON/Migraine with Aura eight-year-old daughter looked at me one morning and explained the walls of our home were too thin to achieve privacy. My Asperger/Anxiety/ADHD/PANDAS Syndrome/Bipolar nine-year-old son was initially quiet and thoughtful when he was told of the impending divorce. Roughly six weeks ago, he was unable to contain his emotions and virtually every task ended early with an explosion of tears and questions about why the divorce had to be.
I’m embarrassed to admit I never believed in accounts of people helping others and redeeming the receiver’s belief in the goodness of the human spirit until recently. Multiple Gallipolis natives stepped up after hearing of my situation and offered help. We were blessed with grocery gift cards, clothing and pharmacy gift cards, and other tokens of compassion. My daughter’s eyes are unable to see as well due to her eye disease (LHON). An iTunes gift card bought her first iBooks on the iPad (also donated by a Gallipolis reader). Having nothing to put under the tree for the children, yesterday an old friend carried in a bag of gifts for each child. She help me put a large bag of bills on a spreadsheet and offered help negotiating with credit card companies. A second friend is going to guide me through the process of asking for debt-forgiveness with nearly every hospital in the city.
My daughter has proven to be very emotionally strong when I struggle. She keeps our minds occupied with card and board games. When I’m exhausted, she brings a poetry book to my bedside and reads to me. My son is working hard on making good dietary choices and exercising. When in a store, he stays protectively close to his younger sister. He’s working well with his Occupational Therapist every week.
I am more convinced than ever that my children will make substantial contributions to society, if we can just make it through the struggle of childhood. I am touched and forever grateful for the acts of kindness from natives of Gallia, Meigs and Athens counties.
May your Christmas be Merry!
This article was abbreviated due to space limits – please check out the entire article on Facebook page: Special Needs Parenting I did not sign up for this! Reach the author: firstname.lastname@example.org Twitter: @Jhobbssaunders.