I don’t always immediately read my professional journal cover to cover upon its arrival (shhhh!–don’t tell my boss, she thinks I’m super competent, OK, pretty competent. . .). I’d rather get tangled up a novel, get in my car and put on yet another award-winning car concert performance–it’s really too bad I don’t have a better singing voice because I BRING IT when tooling around town in my shiny, black concert stage (AKA Ford Edge), or feed the YouTube binge watching habit I’ve recently taken up. The American Speech-Language Hearing Association Leader is something I should attend to more carefully than I do generally, but specifically this issue smacked me upside the head today.
In it, I read an article about young people with autism spectrum disorder. It detailed underemployment, inadequate support services in the post-secondary education world, social isolation, concomitant mental health issues, and under-education. With the exponentially increased incidence and prevalence rates of autism spectrum disorders, much public awareness has been campaigned for and achieved for people with ASD, especially over the last decade. Parents and professionals, celebrities and television networks are upping the public’s awareness. This is a very good thing. People fear what they do not understand, and these days, a little understanding can go a long way, wouldn’t you agree? People in general seem a bit less fearful of ASD than they may have in recent memory, and people seem kinder, maybe more accepting, less judgmental. But what the hell does this have to do with me and the ever-cheerful tale I tell here? This: It made me consider these “under” kinds of things with a glance toward my son’s future. Will he feel isolated if his mobility becomes compromised? Will he suffer psychological trauma like depression? Will he find college too difficult to navigate? What kind of education track or occupation will he seek? Will he be in pain? (a STAB to his mother’s heart on this one–I bet you can probably feel that blade from wherever you’re reading.)
Another article discussed the role of the speech-language pathologist in counseling a patient’s caregiver to improve treatment outcomes. It included a pretty little table with the banner “Stage of patient’s diagnosis or injury” in increments of 0-18 months, 18 months-5 years and more than 5 years across the top. I don’t quite know why I was so dismayed at reading these attributes. Oh yeah, yeah I do. Because they are talking about ME now, a 0-18 month-er. I fit that stinkin’ profile. I couldn’t read this article from a professional perspective; I only saw myself as the “caregiver.” Hell, I’m not even “mom” here, I’m a caregiver. I kinda wanted to pout, go insert my clearest, most high-quality earbuds, turn my iPhone volume limiter OFF, and let someone’s acoustic guitar wrap me up as I lay on my bed in mom contemplation on this cloudy, cool day. Instead, a song about repairing your broken heart with duct tape came on shuffle, and I bust out dancing. I love when my iPod is omniscient!