Similar But Different

Day 29: Autism Awareness Blogathon (the penultimate post)

We had a lovely morning in the park today. It was the annual AEIOU fundraiser Paddle For Kids. Even though L no longer attends AEIOU, they still consider us a part of the family.

We needed to get out, after a Saturday of very rainy weather and having to stay indoors, the kids were restless and itching to get outside. It was still quite damp and muddy out and no guarantee it wouldn’t rain on us, but we headed out regardless.

The Paddle for Kids involves some racing on the river by sponsored teams from all the different early intervention centres in the Brisbane region. Our team put on a great show dressing up and ultimately coming last in the final.

The boys had a great time – jumping castle, sausages, cupcakes, running around in the mud and lots of friends who were so happy to see us – especially L’s teachers, learning facilitators and therapists. It was lovely to see and catch up with some of the other families.  The fresh air and running around did us all good.

I had my hands full and despite pulling the camera out several times to get some photos, I didn’t get a single one – hopeless! I will update this post with some photos once they come through from other sources.

While I was standing around the jumping castle waiting for the kids an older woman came up beside me and asked if I had a child with autism. ‘Yes, I do, he’s in there having fun jumping around.’ The woman turned to her left and introduced me to her daughter. I turned around to say hello properly. The woman told me that her daughter also had autism and was now 42 years old.

We had a lovely chat about names and about music as she has a special interest in musicals & films. She was able to reel off a few musicals and films that had characters with my name. Her mother said ‘It doesn’t get easier’. I laughed and said ‘Don’t tell me that!’ I really felt for her though. She had raised her daughter in the years when there were very limited services for the autism community – certainly no fun days in the park where we can gather and celebrate our kids.

A lifetime of togetherness. It’s hard to really imagine. You just have to live it to know it. Then tonight I got a message from another autism mum. Her son is in his 20’s and she has told me many times ‘It gets better’. I chose to believe my friend, but in no way dismiss the woman’s statement this morning. My friend and her son are about to head off on an international holiday – what an adventure!

We are generations of mothers, dealing with similar but different issues, joys and challenges.

Disclaimer – I have no alliance with The Autism File and I’m not really sure what ‘we will win’, also not really a big fan of big soppy anthems, but it fit, so here it is.  

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5 thoughts on “Similar But Different

  1. Boy I am real familiar with the “you just have to live it to know it” phrase. I’ve said that about a million times!

    I think it does it easier with time and maturity. (But I won’t say that too loud so not to jinx anything!)

    • No jinxing allowed! It does seem that it can be easier, especially if functional language is achieved. The question will be meaningful activities and/or work. Does Sam’s transition program work on these areas? I know this is my friends main concern – that young adults should have access to activities that enable them to engage with their peers.

      • A w-h-o-l-e lot of this disability has to do with communication or lack thereof. The more functional language the better!

        Sam’s 18-21 transitional program involves several things. 1) Getting these kids out into the community. Eating out, going to museums, going to coffee houses, various day-trips, etc. A lot of social stuff here! 2) Getting some work experience in various settings for a couple of hours a day or so. 3) He gets to go to modified classes at the local community college. This gives the kids the feel that they’ve had some college. 4) Learning to ride the local public bus. That’s scary, but they always have a teacher with them. 5) They also have a grocery shopping day. After shopping they come back to cook what they bought. Honestly, I CANNOT possibly say enough good things about this program!

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