I know that it has been a while since I last posted. My young men and my husband have been keeping me busy. I have also been trying to spend time with the four grandchildren. Another priority that I have been focusing on is taking as many of the online courses that I can towards my associate's degree. Starting this fall, the courses that I have left are only available on campus during the day. It will be quite the experience for me to be able to feel the energy of a college student, even at my age!
The course that has been especially helpful in preparing me for the future is the Critical Thinking course that I have been taking this summer. It is an accelerated course because the summer semester is only half as long as a traditional spring or fall semester. Even though I only have eight weeks to complete the coursework, I have successfully managed to stay on schedule by completing an average of four assignments each week. The coursework requires you to use your skills to observe, analyze, interpret, evaluate, reflect and problem-solve. The intensity of the coursework has sometimes left me with the equivalent of a brain-freeze but, in a good way!
The most recent assignment that I was asked to submit had to be about something "Near and Dear" to me. I'm sure that most of you know what that is. My professor requires us to formulate and submit two full paragraphs, and he considers a full paragraph between eight to twelve sentences. I had no difficulty making the minimum requirement when writing about the subject I chose. My dilemma was how was I to know how much I should share about the topic. I didn't want to overwhelm the other students in my class, only give them a little insight. And you know me, I try to keep everything light-hearted while serving up the facts!
I took one of my personal speeches that I wrote for a fast-track class about a year ago, modified it, and updated information pertaining to my family. It was originally a five-minute speech that I had to give in front of the class I was in at the time. The facts haven't changed, nor has my perception of how important the support of family and friends are to the survival of the immediate family of a child diagnosed with autism spectrum disorders. Whether you are familiar with what autism is or not, please read what I shared with my peers. I am curious to see which of my classmates will choose to respond to my forum discussion post topic. I hope that you will take something away from it...
Autism Spectrum Disorders, also known as ASD, is a group of neurological disorders which affect the behavior, social interaction, as well as both verbal and nonverbal communication in individuals. Raising a child with autism consists of long hours, almost no sleep, frequent meltdowns, constantly having to explain to strangers why your child misbehaves in public, and did I mention almost no sleep? Yes, I can laugh now but, it’s not so funny when you are caught up in a disaster that looks like it will never end! I was fortunate to have a husband, who didn’t just step back and leave it to me to handle the mess, but one whom jumped right in and helped give me the break that I desperately needed. Most families are not prepared for a diagnosis of autism, and what it means for their child's future. That was the situation my family faced when our youngest son received a diagnosis of autism nine years ago. If it hadn't been for the support of our family and friends, we wouldn’t have had a chance of surviving the challenges of raising a child on the spectrum. It is important, for the families of children diagnosed with autism spectrum disorders, to know that they have the support of everyone around them.
Parents have to find ways to help their child to adjust to their environment and make the best of their situation. What works as a solution right now, may not work the same way five minutes from now. It is exhausting trying to maintain your sanity, keep a positive attitude about what lies ahead for your child, while protecting him from himself and others during a meltdown. I kept waiting for someone to issue me combat gear, or at least provide me with hazard pay! It was challenging but, I quickly found time for myself and ways to boost my patience levels. When we were having a difficult day, I would frequently have to put myself in time out. You are probably thinking ‘how bad could it have been?’ There were times that we didn’t leave the house for days because it took too much energy to get both of us, and his slightly older brother, ready to go anywhere. Sometimes, all I ever really wanted was the chance to take a nap before anything else happened! It is the support of my husband, family, and friends that have kept me anchored throughout the storm of raising a child with autism spectrum disorders. Our son has come a long way since being diagnosed just before starting Kindergarten and he will be a freshman in high school this fall. He has made tremendous progress and is learning to self-regulate through daily challenges because of the support we have received from our family and friends. We have had the extraordinary privilege of being his parents and advocates. It has given each of us a unique strength, a purpose in life, and has motivated me to become a counselor to help individuals with special needs.