Tuesday, April 26, 2011

FAQ # 6 - What's been the hardest part of the last year?

Most people know that the puzzle piece is the official symbol of autism and there are a few answers as to why they use it. Here's my opinion - when your child is diagnosed with autism, it's like being given a 1000-piece puzzle in a box. You struggle to find the right fit every step of the way.

I think the hardest part of the last year has been absorbing all-things autism. After you get a diagnosis, you not only have to learn to deal with the wide-array of emotions, but you also have to become an autism expert (overnight if possible!). I've spent DAYS upon DAYS researching, trying to learn as much as possible about this disorder. I mainly spent my time learning about the various therapies available. In the beginning I spent way too much time on the computer. Watching videos, looking for specialists, finding options for schools. It started taking over my life and I had to stop. Unfortunately when you're a mom and your child needs something, there's no stopping until you've found it. At least that's how it is for me.

Then you have to start making decisions. That's the tough part. What therapies should you try? How long do you try them for? What if you don't like your therapist? How many hours a week should you do? There's so many options out there that there's no way to try them all. Then you start second guessing yourself because you pick one and then wonder if it was the right choice. I learned that eventually you have to pick something and stick with it, at least for a while. Everyone wants to make the right decision, but you have to just follow your gut feeling and hope it's right.

Recently I decided to go back to work full time. That was a really hard decision. Before I spent my days taking care of my three kiddos, driving Ashley to preschool, taking JD to therapy, entertaining Kyle. But the good part was that I talked to JD's therapists everyday. I was very entrenched in his therapy, probably too much so. Eventually we found a teacher/therapist that we loved and things have been wonderful for him ever since. I realized that going back to work was the best option for my family. I was able to provide JD the best therapy available, and I was able to do what I love. That's not to say though that I don't have moments where I wonder if it's the best thing to do. I guess only time will tell.

I feel like I'm maybe about 100 pieces into the 1000-piece puzzle, and I've got SO far to go. Each time you think you find a piece that fits, you pick it up, look at it from every single angle, put it back down, rethink if it really fits, and finally try it out. Maybe it will be done in 20 years or so :)

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