Monday, January 24, 2011

A Cold World

It was 7°F in New York City this morning when our girl got on the bus for school. (For our friends in lands where Celsius reigns, that's -14.4°C.)

On last night's 11 o'clock news I saw a segment that included an interview with a homeless 20-something young woman who explained that she'd been in her last semester of college, fallen on some hard luck, and wound up sleeping in the subway with her dog.

When I woke up this morning, the first thought that came into my mind was "What can I do today to make sure that Sweet M doesn't someday end up homeless?"

The stream of thought that followed went something like this -- make more money (default anxiety-reduction thought); try to buy a house and put it in a trust for her with someone supervising the trust; live just long enough to launch her into some sort of work life and don't succumb to any lingering resource-depleting illness like Alzheimer's; build a better and stronger support network for her; move out of the city to somewhere that she'll have a closer social network (file this under "geographical cure" — the 12-step concept for futile moves in search of greener pastures), move to a warmer climate where homelessness is less dangerous (see preceding note on geographical cures); devote my time to affordable housing and homelessness activism; become more deeply engaged in the autism activism community; change her school so that she'll be somewhere that has lower academic expectations, but provides life-skills and vocational training; hope that the Mayan 2012 prophecy is correct so that I won't really have to worry about this.

I turned to M's dad and said, "What are we going to do to make sure that our girl doesn't someday end up homeless?"

"Drink your coffee, would you?" he said.

A cognitive psychological study suggests that if you offer someone a warm beverage that they will, indeed, be more warmly disposed toward you, so he might be onto something here. But seriously, these awake-in-the-middle-of-the-night thoughts were seriously intruding on the start of my day.

Our PDD-NOS kids can be such a mix of potential and deficits, so hard to predict in terms of trajectory, that somedays I just don't know what I ought to be doing, as I've mentioned before. I wonder what adults with PDD-NOS, or someone who is the parent of an adult child with PDD-NOS, suggest? I wonder, what did you do? How did it work out? What might have worked better? Clearly watching the 11 o'clock news is not the best idea, but what is?

If you were here, I'd offer you a cup of coffee (or tea if you'd rather -- said to be better for longevity) and ask you to pull up a chair. I believe we can make the world a little warmer, though we may need to do that one cup at a time.

Note: The cool visual thermometer pictured above is from AbleHomeAides.


Unknown said...

Dear Mothersvox,
I really like your articles as you are able to formulate some things about which I think intermittently too. I have translated your "stream of thought" ending with the Mayan prophecy for my friends from a closed discussion of AS moms and the general reaction was "exactly my thoughts during sleepless nights". It resonated with me strongly, especially the "geographical cure" - I am always phantasizing about a possible move to a less harsh climate and/or abroad where some excentricites of my son could be considered part of the language-barrier and be more tolerated.

MothersVox said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
MothersVox said...

Hi Ridwen, I'm so glad if these posts are helpful in any way. I write these and then put them up and hope they're useful to others with kids on the spectrum.

I also often think about moving to where English is not the first language and seeing how it would go for us. Sweet M's father -- who also had a language development issue in his childhood -- taught himself English by reading the New York Times. I think his language deficits are not that evident in his second language and people chalk up any language issues to being foreign. It's an interesting idea. I wonder if any one out there has done this? Relocated, not to get better schools or services, but to be in a place where your child's difference is absorbed into broader cultural differences overall.