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 I even meant to? In some'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 '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.



  1. Your facebook photo is brilliant. I love it.

    I'm sorry that you are having these terrible waves of panic and anxiety. I wonder if you've ever explored mindfulness meditation for stress reduction? I have found it life-saving, actually, and there's something that tells me it might "work" for you. If anything, I hope that you might not judge yourself as you're going through these states but just kindly observe them. I really believe that we can't "think" ourselves out of all of this --

    Love and peace to you and all of yours (at risk of sounding impossibly feminine and namby-pamby)

  2. GREAT picture.

    Sorry about the anxiety. It is probably hard to pinpoint the exact cause because you have SO much going on to put you there.

    All I can say sucks. But you know we are all here for you. Supporting you in any way we can.

  3. I mean no offense, and I am exactly the same way, but we're nerds. Nerds have a strong need to deconstruct things to find root causes and exactly how and why. It's neither good nor bad, it simply is.

    As for anxiety/panic attacks...there are so many potential reasons, it really can't be figured out alone. Therapy seems to help, though...

  4. Sorry for the anxiety! I hate, hate it...

  5. I love the picture!! How did you do that?


  6. Saw it on FB.Loved it.

    House full of panicky,anxiety ridden people here.All different levels.Watched last night, the oldest,who I swore had missed this particular bullet of various bum genes,dissolving into puddle of tears and heavy breathing as her head hung over her nursing school books.Hate it for her.Hate it for you.Just plain hate it.

  7. Elizabeth:
    I have never explored meditation. Often wondered about it. Hell, I'd probably benefit from plain old exercise at this point. Walking, punching bag, whatever. I really want to set up my punching bag in the basement, it used to help me a lot. Sadly, one of the 'issues' we are currently experiencing that has got my stress level up is keeping me from doing that.

    Thanks. Plus we have that other thing we have to keep an eye on.

    But the anxiety was there long before Bennett was. It is just more intensified now. But I'll manage it. I actually think the GOOD thing is that I used to be very ashamed about it. I'm not anymore.

    Stryder Wolfe:
    Speak for yourself bubba. I'm not a nerd, I'm a geek! I see a difference. Now, you MAY be a nerd, I don't know, I haven't hung with you. But I have and always will consider myself in the Geek class. One day I will explain the difference.

    Therapy is awesome. Wish I could afford it right now. Could REALLY use it.

    Dora's Daddy:
    So do I...miss you ya sunuvabitch. Did you like those Arkham toys? I thought about you when I got 'em. Remember, you convinced me to play the game.

    It was actually fairly easy to do, just time consuming. I did it in Photoshop. Created a layer of the photo, applied a puzzle overlay, used a bevel tool to create 3 dimensions to the selection of the photo after selecting the shapes and using the Select>Similar tool. I then clipped the entire puzzle outer shape and saved the selection.

    I clipped out one of the puzzle pieces, cut it, and pasted it in a new layer, and rotated it and positioned it. Applied Drop Shadows to both of the layers and tweaked their properties.

    Placed a fill layer in the back, chose a blue from Bennett's sweater and adjusted the Hue until it was what I wanted.

    Selected the Font I wanted, typed in the words Autism Awareness Month and adjusted the kerning between the letters until it went across the entire image. I selected the color I wanted from the image and applied it to the entire phrase, then selected the 'Aware' and used the Color Picker to lighten that part of the Phrase to make it stand out, though in a subtle way.

    Then I duplicated the layer, dropped it in behind the existing text layer and changed the text to black, and repositioned it to act as a makeshift drop shadow, just so that the text would pop since the image would be so small as a Facebook profile image.

    I saved the layered image as a PSD, saved a copy as a jpg, twaked the levels and color a little more in the copy, trimmed the copy and loaded it up.

    Zat answer your question? :)

    Zoey's Mom:
    Hate. Anger. Fear. Aggression. The dark side of the Force are they. Easily they flow, quick to join you in a fight. If once you start down the dark path, forever will it dominate your destiny, consume you it will, as it did Obi-Wan's apprentice.

    But yeah...I hate it too.

  8. Haha...yea that pretty much explains it. Very impressive!


  9. "From Panic to Power" by Lucinda Bassett. Saved my friggin' life. Had my last anxiety attack at 36...stopped after I read that book (they started when I was 13). May help, may not...but I always spread the word in case someone else can benefit.

  10. I'll look into the book, but need clarification. Did it stop your anxiety attacks or your panic attacks? There is a difference between the two and was wondering what you were having.

  11. ok well nerd/geek whatever...I actually am probably more of a geek cause nerds are smart. Regardless my point stands :D


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