Though it was far from fabulous, even 2010 had its highlights: amazing speech therapy focused on language-pragmatics that's gone a long way toward helping the sweet girl with her social interactions, another sleep-over camping adventure with her classmates (this time without us in tow as we had to be in 2009: whoa-hoo!), fun get-togethers with another Pokémon fan, and the amazing big one-three-birthday for the girl, which did leave us asking that most clichéd of questions, the one about where did the time go.
Those are some of the good things that have made it into this narrative.
There are lots of other things that haven't made it into the story: emergency medication changes when frustrated outbursts returned at school; disappointing (even disturbing) experiences with a behavioral consultant whom we had grown to love but who seemed, in the end, to put doctrine and dogma ahead of heart and healing; and plenty of nights lying awake wondering how our girl will be getting along five years from now — when she's exiting her teen years rather than entering them.
What I'm left with at the end of 2010 and the start of 2011 is the reality that even with all of her growth and changes, that even with all her efforts and those of everyone around her, that our girl is quite different than other girls. Very, very different. And she probably always will be.
We've known since 2005 that this was more than a little speech delay and low-frustration tolerance that she would grow out of. And we've known since 2007 that the social challenges that our girl faces are not easy to remediate. And now we know that some things are mutable and some are not. She's learned to read, against the dire predictions of some naysayers. Her social skills, while limited, are evolving. And, with the help of an SSRI medication and lots of behavior interventions, she's developing a somewhat enhanced capacity to think before responding.
And so, looking back at the last five years of this blog, and looking forward to the next five years of our girl's life, I wonder what's the best thing I can be doing for her? Hindsight is a poor substitute for foresight, but hindsight is what we get with this one-way temporality that we humans have. Don't you sometimes really wanna break out your crystal ball? I'd even settle for a friendly visit from the ghost of New Year's future as all these questions continue . . .
Should we send her to a school for kids who have more ASD-type neurology or should be keep her where she is, where she knows everyone and there are lots of neurotypical-ish models and high academic standards?
Should we apply for Social Security Disability since it's hard to know how she'll ever support herself, or should we continue to hold out the belief (which sometimes feels only like a hope) that she will be a fully contributing and self-supporting member in this society?
Should we move out of the city, or stay put because it is familiar and we have great doctors and other resources here?
Hopefully some answers will emerge in 2011. In the meantime, happy new year 2011 to all of you who share our life at Autism's Edges. Here's to year of unfolding answers! Any clues, crystal balls, or prognostications you may have are welcome!