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Posts Tagged ‘residential schools’

In five days, on August 16, it will be the fifth anniversary of Jonah’s departure from home.

That’s more than a third of his innocent little life, and I sit here and type this through a stormy mess of emotions.

For some reason that one comment from the other day echoes in my head, over and over.   I can’t be bothered to parent.   I can’t be bothered to parent.   I can say “haters gonna hate” and try to brush it off, but the troll’s words have gotten inside me, wringing my heart, making it pound pound pound in my throat.  I kicked my son out.  I can’t be bothered to parent.  The words are not true and I want to stop hearing them but I don’t know how.  I heavily edited my “about” page to more clearly define why we had to send Jonah away, and even as I wrote the new copy I asked myself why I felt the need to justify our actions.

There are many answers to that but the most important answer, I suppose, is to educate.  The idea of residential care for individuals with autism is repellent, and I get that.  It’s important to know the why of it all, lest they judge not only me but all others in my situation, lest they misunderstand the reality of residential care in the 21st century.  Jonah’s school is not an “institution” – it’s a huge, gated, beautiful campus with individual houses and a school building.  The caregivers and teachers are phenomenal; they are Jonah’s best friends and companions, advocates and educators.  These aren’t justifications.  I do not need to justify what was not our choice.  We didn’t choose this.

Parents who place a child in residential care aren’t throwing their kid away, I assure you.  Because guess what?  Even if there were parents who wanted to “throw a child away,” the openings at these places are so valuable there wouldn’t be availability unless the child’s home school district deemed it absolutely necessary.  The school district pays for it (in New York State, anyway) and moneycoin is, of course, a huge determining factor.

I just wish I wasn’t so hypersensitive. Or maybe it’s not that.  Maybe I’ve slowly developed an invisible shield in order to move forward through life and when trolls knock, the shield is shaken, endangered, a hole poked through, the feelings rushing in, too many too much too painful too real.   All the feelings I usually suppress.  Ignore.  Internalize – until I am, as I’ve described before, bow-string tight with bones gone brittle, shoulders hitched up, breath after breath after breath held…suspended…each new breath a hesitant, unwilling step into more future.

For five years I have lived this bizarre life of mother-not-mothering.  For five years I’ve spent most of my energy running away from how it feels never to watch Jonah sleep…how it feels never to be there when he awakens….never to know what it is to raise him.  It’s the most helpless kind of helpless.  I suppose my mind has created its own protective pathway to enable me to live this way.  I imagine my heart’s new primary purpose is to forget all the days we spent together, and what it was to shape his Self, and how I fell in love with his role in my life as my Boo.

I don’t know anyone who is in my situation, with their only child living in a residential school for autism, except Andy.  But we don’t talk about it, and so that most helpless kind of helpless is a lonely kind as well.  From a singular perspective I attempt to tell our tale, and like as not I speak a language so foreign it’s lost, dismissed, or plain old misunderstood by some people.

And just like that I’m off to find the Animals song, link to it, and look up the lyrics.  Is it schizophrenic thinking to feel how those lyrics apply to me?  To type the words out in paragraph form because I identify?

I only know this diversion serves as vacation from all the other crap I’m always on about.

“Sometimes I feel a little mad.  But don’t you know that no one alive can always be an angel?  When things go wrong I seem to be bad, but I’m just a soul whose intentions are good.  Sometimes I’m so carefree, with a joy that’s hard to hide, and sometimes it seems that all I have to do is worry, then you’re bound to see my other side.  But I’m just a soul whose intentions are good; oh Lord, please don’t let me be misunderstood.”

Why care if I’m misunderstood?  Why react so viscerally to the critic or the cruel?

Either way, I’ve been hibernating and closed off.  My mental energy is always working to stave off thinking things I don’t want to think.  I sleep and I sleep.  One day this week I came home from work and took a nap, only waking to eat before going to bed for the night.  I’m making up for those sleepless nights with Boo, back when I was a mothering-mother.

Jonah’s school called me today to join a conference call and approve a proposed increase in his dosage of Clozaril, since the drug is helping lessen the frequency of his aggressions but it’s not taking them away.  We talked about how he’s refusing to go to school (though they always get him there by 10am or so) and then I asked if anyone there had seen Jonah today.  One person had, in the classroom, and she described how he was making a great racket of noise.  He also had a behavior management at his residence this morning.  They didn’t disclose the severity of the behavior and I didn’t ask.

It’s difficult to remember a time when I did not embrace ignorance.

I guess maybe, well, five years ago.

This is another one of those blog entries I nearly almost always type with fingers slamming-hammer-quick on the keys, stream of conscious unthinking – and then delete.  But I think I’ll publish this one.

If I go away for another while, however long, I wanted to tell why.

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My car’s thermometer tells me it is -3 degrees outside today, but at least I got the hell out of the driveway and to work.  I have so much to do it is overwhelming, but maybe that’s for the best.  I can focus on something else besides residential schools and my son’s attacks and how to navigate it all. 

This was a good weekend for Jonah-boo.  I came over to the house both Saturday and Sunday; of course we go to grandma’s nearly every day and sometimes (on the weekends) more than once. 

He loves to enjoy a snack on her counter, with his favorite butt-in-the-air position, and though we usually make him sit in a chair, he gets special privileges at his precious grandma’s. 

Saturday I brought him over to the apartment with M where he enjoyed playing with the bead necklaces I make constantly/therapeutically:

….and playing with M’s dog, Jack:

who is a big 90-pound 2-year old galoot of a mutt-pup and evidently wishes to lick humans to death.

At first Jonah was intimidated by Jack, and he still is a little skittish every time he first sees Jack because Jack gets very excited when anyone comes over, but the dog quiets down soon and then Jonah is interested, petting him gently and throwing him treats.

Andy took Jonah sledding on Saturday too, so our boy had lots of fun – he got to go to grandma’s, take 15 or so baths, visit his favorite mall and traverse the circuit throughout it he’s invented, go to the grocery store a few times, and play more with his mama when I visited again yesterday for a few hours.  We played “ring around the rosy,” did slinky on the stairs, and repeatedly filled a yellow bucket with colored straws, flash cards, and moneycoin, then tossed it gleefully into the air and sang “clean up, clean up, everybody everywhere” while we picked it all up, only to transport it to another area of the house and start all over again.

So all in all it was a good weekend for boo.  I am afraid of falling into the negative, both temperature-wise, depression-wise, and Jonah’s behavior-wise.   I’m so scrawny I freeze to death in even the 30-40 degree weather, and I am bone-frozen and bone-tired…fighting apprehension, wearing long jonhs on under my work clothes…pushing back at the worry…that kind of thing.

I’m having some social anxiety, sometimes feeling unable to go places or do things – like the mall, or a restaurant.  It comes and goes.  I missed my Uncle John’s birthday party yesterday because I didn’t want to show up and see all my family and make small talk and all the while feeling surreal, trying not to cry.  Who wants the crazy member of the family to ruin all the fun? And even though I know they wouldn’t treat me any differently (I love my family), I might say or do something stupid, or get all paranoid, or witness the normalcy of everyone around me, the “regular” kids, feeling the resentment rise, wishing I were someone else, somewhere else, like I tend to do sometimes.  I will send him a card with some scratch-offs and a big apology and hope nobody thinks the worse of me for it.

And when I called my mom to tell her about my conversation with that one mom whose son is doing so well at Springbrook, I caught her at a bad, weepy, worrying time.  She seemed almost angry that I was continuing my investigations of these places.  “He’s doing so much better lately,” she claimed desperately, her voice cracking with anguish.  “You don’t need to send him to an institution.”  When I explained that I would rather be super-informed before making a decision that may or may not be imminent, she didn’t seem to hear me. 

I would rather be dead than see him in an institution,” she cried bitterly.  I told her I would stop talking about it – that it would be a last resort – that Andy and I would do everything we could to keep him at home.

We are taking Jonah to see the child psychiatrist again on February 2nd.  Maybe he has some ideas for tweaking his meds. Maybe Wildwood’s new behavior plan will begin to take hold.  Maybe the new stability in the house with Andy will improve his overall ability to adapt to changes and triggers and fears. 

In the meantime, I will continue my investigations – I see no point in remaining uninformed; if not for Jonah, than for other parents who may be facing these decisions.  I just won’t be telling my mother about it.

Ignorance may not be bliss in this case, but hopefully it’ll at least allow her to sleep at night.

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