Sunday, May 14, 2006

Mother Is a Verb, Mom Is a Noun

After a fairly challenging couple of weeks over here at Autism's Edges, we've arrived to a quiet Mother's Day, with the traditions of school-made presents, and Mom sleeping in, and breakfast in bed (sort of).

Sweet M made me a pink, pink card where her spirals don't seem to be gaping wormholes, and her heart is filled with a smiling face. And she and her father made Pillsbury pop-up biscuits (in our household these biscuits are a gourmet, cholesterol-filled treat saved for special occasions) and coffee and ricotta cheese and strawberry jam for breakfast.

On Friday we met with Sweet M's psychiatrist, Dr. B, to talk about all that has been going on for Sweet M. I'd invited her classroom teachers, the two heroic women who adore her as much as I do and lived through the episode in Central Park with only a few bruises. I had the intuition that Sweet M's teachers would have more information, and that all of their insights would be helpful. I wasn't sure they'd be able to make it, but both of them did.

I'd emailed Dr. B in advance to let him know that I'd invited them and that we might, depending on their availability, be meeting him en masse. Even so, Dr. B was a bit taken aback when he sized up the size of our group — M's teacher, her assistant teacher, her father, me and Sweet M.

Apparently he'd been planning on meeting with Sweet M alone, though I had no way of knowing that, as he's never done that before. Although he's not someone who annoys easily, or shows annoyance easily, I'd say he was annoyed. As we all headed up the stairs to his office, he commented about me being the leader of the pack. Ouch.

I don't like be characterized, even accurately, as an overbearing, controlling mother. But sometimes I am. When I'm desperate to know what to do for my child, I rally all the resources I can find.

Taking the approach of playing it as it lays, he met with all of us. M's teachers did most of the talking — telling us in detail about the last three weeks at school: M's increased concern about odors, her aversion to seeing things out of place (food on the floor in one classroom), her need to answer questions, her need to have things her way.

It was oddly reassuring to hear these two amazing women — who spend as much time with Sweet M as I do — share the stories of the difficulties of the past three weeks as Dr. B listened intently, intermittently asking for clarifications and details. There are people in the world who are as concerned about — and committed to — Sweet M as I am. They reminded me of how important it is to remember that, as other writers have point out, "mother is a verb."

Dr. B's assessment was that what we've all be seeing is a recurrence of the obsessive-compulsive symptoms that we originally sought his help with, and that we'd need to adjust Sweet M's medication. The Focalin, which helps her attention, can increase anxiety. And she's grown in height and weight, so the Paxil dose might have become too low — even before we'd tested taking it lower. So we're adjusting upward on the Paxil, at least for the moment.

At the end of the meeting he said he was glad to have heard from the teachers. And I was glad that I can be, from time to time, a controlling, overbearing mom.

In the end, mother can be a verb, and all of them — her teachers, doctors, and therapists — are involved in nurturing activities that are forms of mothering. But mom, overbearing or not, is always a noun.

Happy Mother's Day — to all who do the work of mothering — and especially to all the mom's out there, near to, and far from, Autism's Edges.



Mary said...

Glad to hear the meeting was productive. (Let's hear it for overbearing moms!)

Thanks for your comment - I haven't removed the post about the autistic man recruited by the army. It might just be hard to find amid all that leftist propaganda. :-) It's at (Looking forward to the comment you intended to leave.)

And for the record - you're one of my heroes, too. Happy Mother's Day!

kristina said...

It's the best work there is.

Happy Mother's Day! Lovely photo.

Anonymous said...

Is a BCBA in charge of her programming? Has an FBA been done?
The psychiatrist is "annoyed" because you called a team meeting? Precisely why psychiatrists shouldn't be involved in a child's programming or behavior plan.

MothersVox said...

Hi anonymous, Don't know what a BCBA is, so I guess the answer would be no. Behavioral consultant? Behavioral analyst?

Anonymous said...

Board Certified Behavior Analyst.

Anonymous said...
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