Friday, 25 October 2013

A Year to Remember

Autumn, a time of reflection

The last few years have been fraught with challenges. But with challenge comes growth. So even though the last year has been difficult, its been one to look back on and honour. 

My eldest son Chris has spent the last year in a relationship with a wonderful young woman and has embarked on his own personal journey. He is coming to terms with having Aspergers, understanding his own challenges while refusing to use the label as an excuse. Returning to school, getting his diploma, and now making plans for a post secondary education, he is on his way to becoming the man he's always wanted to be. His perseverance through his struggles is an inspiration. Chris has worked hard at becoming a good father, good partner, and at simply bettering himself. He has finally realized he is a pretty exceptional young man and is taking life head on!

Last year at this time my middle son Eric was coming home from yet another hospital stay. Eric is 20 years old, and autistic. For the last couple of years he's been in crisis. This is common in young autistic adults, but that doesn't make it easier, nor does it mean services to help them are readily available. Eric cannot guide his own care, nor advocate for himself, so I have been forging my way through this new frontier, doing the best I can to make sure my baby has what he needs. Over the last year he has made some tremendous gains ( a few pitfalls along the way, but we're still moving forward). Eric is discovering his ability to say 'No'. While this is very challenging for me (Eric is 200lbs+), it is comforting to know that as he nears the time when he will live elsewhere, cared for someone other than myself, that Eric will be able to voice his objections to things that are unpleasant to him. Every parent of a child with special needs, but in particular those who are non-verbal, fears what will happen to our children when we are not there to look after them. So this step in Eric's development is a huge relief for me. He's not quite as vulnerable anymore.

My youngest son Mark has started his second year of high school and has just encountered his first life road block. A gifted young man, academically as well as athletically, charming and well rounded, he has never had to WORK at succeeding, at anything. He is now finding for the first time in  his life he he has to study for tests, and he has to learn study and homework habits. I went through this myself in High School. Mark and I have a very close relationship. He opened up about his struggles and together we are working on changing things. Not many 16 year olds confide in their Moms, or listen to them either, so I know just how lucky I am, and I know he'll get back on track and make the life he dreams of for himself.

I have also grown. I have embarked on a new phase in my life, doing the things I have always wanted , but was afraid to attempt. Like writing. I've had to scale back my work because of Eric's high needs, but that allowed me the luxury of being able to sit in front of the keyboard. Watching other people in my life overcome their own personal hurdles to expand their differing horizons motivated me. Battling for my son reminded me I am a very strong woman, who can make it through just about anything. So I bit the bullet and started writing. I haven't been happier.

We have a lot of struggles ahead as Eric enters into the very incomplete world of adult services for people with special needs. But we'll make it through. We'll grow some more as a family and as individuals from those challenges. Life is a journey. Sometimes bumpy but always interesting. It sure has been a year to remember!

Now, onwards and upwards!

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