Monday, March 12, 2012

1 in 91 Children

I opened up this post by fellow blogger, Caffeinated Autism Mom and there was the number of children diagnosed with autism staring me in the face. 1 in 91 and she says the CDC is getting ready to release new statistics. World Autism Day is coming up on April 2nd and it would truly be awesome if they would release the numbers in conjunction with that, but it almost seems as if they want to hide it away so nobody realizes just what an epidemic we have going on here. As she put it so well, if 1 in 91 children was being kidnapped, there would be screaming from every corner of the country and all over the halls of congress.

I won't repeat her article, since I know you're smart enough to click over there on your own. I haven't written much about Joey lately, but I thought I would share a story with you to show you just how hard this problem is to deal with on a personal level.

My youngest has been mainstreamed in school with "neurotypical" children since the first grade, always with some assistance and, for the most part, I have been very happy with his teachers. He is now in 7th grade and they are beginning to discuss what they call "sensitive" topics, i.e. what happens when we humans reproduce. I got the letter in the mail a few weeks ago and we are always allowed to opt our kids out of these classes if we don't want the schools telling them about biology, but we also get the schedule of what they are going to talk about and I think they are doing a much better job of covering all of the angles than I ever could.

The other kids were a cake walk as far as "the talk" goes. I have not been able to sit down with my youngest and talk to him about sex for the life of me and I had been struggling with the fact that the other kids were going to know way more than Joey did. It's time. He's 13 and starting to go through puberty. He has the right to know these things.

A week or two ago, he came home from school and was acting extremely embarrassed. It turns out that was the day he learned about sex and he had suddenly figured out that I was one of those "girl" people and that his father and I must have done something in order for him to get here. I offered to answer any questions, but he didn't want to talk to me. So Justin told him that if he had any questions, it was okay to come and talk to him anytime and that it was also okay to feel uncomfortable talking to me about it. It was a little hard, because I've always talked to my boys about everything, but I want him to have the information, so if he wants to talk to Justin, yay that he is still communicating to someone. (And I know Justin won't steer him wrong. Heh.)

Then, Saturday night, he asked me if he could go to a sleepover next month with his friends. They had been scheming away and had already gotten permission from my neighbor (mom to two of them). I told him I would have to think about it and he wasn't so sure either because it would mean sleeping away from home. He was concerned they wouldn't like to sleep with a light on. I was a lot more concerned with the fact that he is a teenager and they are in kindergarten and second grade. I told him I would think about it and came in to talk to Justin.

I thought it was a horrible idea. Because this neighbor had called me in the past when Joey was in his bedroom playing with her son and her son had insisted they shut the door because he was afraid of the dog. They were playing Mario Brothers and Pac Man on the computer (I checked his history to make sure), but she called me about five minutes after H got home, saying he was acting "sheepish" and she wanted to know what they had been doing in Joey's bedroom with the door shut and unlimited internet access.

I was horribly offended. Because (a) Joey had no idea at that point that sex even exists and (b) that she would think I would allow anything to go on in my house like my then 12 year old showing her 7 year old porn on his computer. The only reason the door was closed was because she had imparted her irrational fear of dogs onto her son.

Jump ahead to now. My son is learning about sex in school. Her sons are gluing glitter to colored paper and learning about 2 + 2 = 4. She's accused me (unfairly) in the past of allowing something unsavory to go on in my house between our children, pissing me off royally and making the current rule no computer use at all when her children are here (which isn't too often) and never having the door closed. Sleepover, at night, at her house? I don't think so. I don't think I have to spell out why for you.

On Friday when Joey came home from school, he wanted to talk about the sleepover. I told him he wasn't going to be able to go. He was terribly upset and I had to explain why he couldn't sleep over at his friends' house. I gave him an edited version of the fact that he had been on the computer with H and the door was shut and their mother was concerned. He was learning about things in school that her kids aren't and I just couldn't take a chance. I was telling him no to protect him. His response: I'm so mad at myself for having the computer on while H was here.

He thought it was his fault. And he also said: Mom, I don't have any friends my own age from school.

There it was. My son has no friends because he's different. I've known it, but it really slaps you in the face when he knows it too. And I'm crying just sitting here thinking about the fact that he can't go to a sleepover with his only friends because they are so much younger than he is. I just can't take a chance that one of the kids might say something innocent about something or nothing and my neighbor might think something happened and Joey could get into a whole lot of trouble.

I told him I was just protecting him because that was my job. He was upset. I was upset. I'm still upset, although I suspect he's gotten over it by now. But what I can't get over is his saying that he doesn't have friends his own age.

This is autism.

This is our reality.

This is our son's reality.

What happens now?

1 comment:

  1. I feel so sad for you. My son doesn't have Autism but I really think he is verging on slight Asperger's Syndrome. He is a lot better adjusted now and has a close circle of friends and is quite happy with his life, but he had a horrible time trying to make friends at school because he behaved just a little bit "different" from the others.I have friends with children who are a bit "different" (one 26 year old has the mental capabilities of a 2 year old) but they went to a school that helped with these problems.Some people can be so insensitive! I don't know what the answer is but I truly sympathise. X


I'd love to hear from you. Feel free to tag back to your blog in the body of your message. Comments are my favorite!