Friday, April 1, 2011
Autism Awareness Month
I often struggle with Bennett's diagnosis of an Autism Spectrum Disorder, mainly because I never know for certain whether that struggle is because of my own internal difficulty with the acceptance of his condition, or because of all the other factors that have contributed to presenting Bennett with the problems he faces in his life.
Notice I did not say anything like 'problems that make Bennett who he is' or something along those lines. My terminology has changed in that regard, along with my perception of my son.
That's a good thing.
While I fumble about through all of this, and fumble I do, I at least can be certain of one thing, and in this I take great comfort...I am evolving. This evolution might be excruciatingly slow, maybe even slower than Bennett's own developmental achievements, but I am trying.
It's all I CAN do, really.
Yesterday, even though I posted something very light, you'd be surprised to know I spent almost the entire day locked in a very intense anxiety attack. Anxiety to panic to anxiety to panic to anxiety. That means the level of intensity would come in waves but never really go away. (Panic attacks and anxiety attacks are sort of different though often called the same thing erroneously.)
I have no explanation for what caused my state of being. I have no direct cause I can pinpoint. Medication, even extra doses of it, could not abate it. I had the shakes, I felt terrible, I shifted in and out of bouts of tearfulness and terror, laughter and fatigue.
I seriously wondered if I was going to lose my mind, or HAD lost it.
And today? I seem to be OK.
The funny thing is...I really don't understand what the hell that was all about. And I wonder...am I even meant to? In some ways...it's just a part of MY puzzle. It happens. A bit more now than it did, but we are going through a TON of shit right now. A TON.
But is there actually a true, guaranteed benefit to knowing the specific cause of why I felt that way? I'm not so sure there is.
Would it change the fact that it happened? Would it change the fact that I have experienced it before and that I am likely to experience it again? Would it change the fact that I survive these experiences and would do well to remember that fact alone when they come up and leave it at that?
And perhaps that same logic can and should be applied to how I feel about my son, when I start beating my head against the wall with feelings of guilt and doubt and frustration and everything else when it comes to 'figuring out' exactly what happened to him. It might serve me well to keep that in mind.
Perhaps it is just a matter of managing my perception.
So...whether he 'officially' has an Autism Spectrum Disorder, or a Traumatic Brain Injury from being a Brain Tumor Survivor, or Epilepsy, or All of the Above, or 'Other', I'll never be able to know for sure what is dominant, with 100% certainty, and I think I recognize that I don't really need to worry so much about that. He attends an academy with other boys and girls who share similar diagnoses and characteristics, and he receives therapy based on the assumption that the ASD is dominant and the therapy he received there is CLEARLY helping him in many, many ways.
And that's that.
In honor of Autism Awareness Month, which is April, by the way, I made a little picture of Bennett to use for my Facebook page this month, a portrait which uses the whole 'Autism Puzzle' theme as a framework. Call it...my 'official' acceptance of that aspect of who he is, with a side order homage to the part of his brain that they removed when they took out his tumor.