People ask me all the time about Aidan’s progress. How is he doing? I get comments from people who have met him saying, he doesn’t look Autistic. He doesn’t act autistic. You would never know he is sick. He talks, he’s very social, he is in school, he is learning to read, to write, to do math. He can spell lots of words. He’s doing great, but the real question sometimes is what happened to change it. How has he come so far? What caused the change? The answer in all honesty is just one word. LISA.
I wish I could take credit for this and I’m sure I play a part, much the same as everyone else who is in his life. His grandparents, uncles and aunts, close friends, etc., but the real person responsible for this is Lisa. For those of you reading this who doesn’t know who Lisa is, I am sure you can guess. She is referred to by Aidan as MOM. Since his diagnosis of autism and other related health issues, she has been a relentless force in getting him as mainstream as possible.
If you are not a parent of a special needs child or not an incredibly close relative, you probably don’t have a clue as to how difficult life becomes. In the blink of an eye, your life changes. Your finances change, your vacations stop or change, friendships stop or change, your marriage changes. As I am sure you can guess, none of these changes are for the better. Your focus has to be on your child. Most people will say a parent’s focus should be on their child or is on their child but with special needs, its just different. It is really a 24/7 job that can easily suck the life out of you. Here is a simple example to put things in perspective. Your home alone with your 7 year old who has learnt to open doors and thinks its a game to run outside without fear and hide or take a walk crossing streets without looking or realizing cars are driving at 40 mph. Why you ask, because this 7 year old may have the mind of a 3-5 year old and not realize the danger. So what do you do if you have to go to the bathroom? What do you do if you need a nap? It’s just not simple. Nothing in life with a special needs child is simple.
Lisa and I have had our issues over the years. We love each other, hate each other, like each other, agree with each other or agree to disagree. Sometimes we just tolerate each other. We have been married for going on 22 years. The one thing I have always said, just not to her I think, is she is an amazing mom. The best mom any kid could hope to have. Justin and Colin think she’s a pain in the ass as she is always asking them questions, checking in to see who they are with, what they are doing, where they are. She attends school meetings, she knows all their friends, and she looks at their grades, asks them about homework and gives them a hard time about what time they go to bed or bitches if they are out to late. I think they mistake the bitching for real LOVE. She cares about their well being as every parent should care about their kids.
When Aidan was first diagnosed with autism, Lisa fought to get him early intervention therapy. She has seen to it that since those early days he has had therapy every week, basically almost everyday for the last 5 and half years. She has sat thru so many meetings, so many doctors visits, actually stayed at the Ronald McDonald house in Philly with him for a month while he was at Children's hospital. She is constantly doing activities with him, whether its horseback riding, slot cars, trick or treating, riding around to look at traffic lights or school buses or doing puzzles at the table, even doing homework with him, she is constantly keeping him engaged in learning. She talks to his teachers. You would think this is normal but the last back to school night for his class; we were the only parents there.
Because Aidan is a runner, she was able to get a special bracelet he now wears that’s tied into the sheriffs department so we can track him if need be. (Yes it’s crazy but if you have a runner then you know it’s needed). She is constantly looking for things that keep him engaged and happy. She took the time to research babysitters and found Meghan who has been with us for a long time and who has become family. Not everyone who babysits can deal with special needs children.
I guess what I’ve been trying to say is because of my wife Lisa, I get to have conversations with Aidan, (originally diagnosed non verbal), watch TV and movies with him, play real games with him, do things with him that I otherwise couldn’t do, and he has become much more mainstream. Every time I talk with him, I think how lucky I am that he has you as his mom.