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Thursday, May 31, 2012

Autism barbie and the blonde mom's brigade.

while I've got a million ideas in my head, forgive me, it takes awhile to form coherent readable passages. 

I read AUTISM DADDY on a fairly regular basis. In fact he was inspiration to start this blog. I've been percolating on number seven on this blog of his:

When you enter this autism world you meet the most AMAZING people.  Of course we’ve become good friends with a lot of the autism moms & dads in our lives, and yes they are amazing.  But even more amazing are the people who CHOOSE to work with our asd kids. I didn’t CHOOSE to have a kid with autism. It just happened and I’m dealing with it as best I can.  But the people that care for our son every day? The teachers, therapists, aides… Most of them CHOSE to work with kids with Autism. For most of them this is what they wanted to do with their lives. And to me that BLOWS MY MIND. I mean y’all know what our kids are like. Most of these people should be up for SAINTHOOD! And then I run into a few autism moms that change careers after their kid’s diagnosis to become autism teachers or social workers working with asd families. To me they are the most AMAZING of all!  To have autism at home and then go to work and deal with more autism? How? God bless you!" 

You know, like most things, this guy (god bless him) hits the nail on the head. Teachers, respite providers, DAN docs, OT's, PT's,  and speech therapists are amazing. Some time's I find my own kid annoying, WHY IS HE DOING THAT AGAIN? WHAT DID HE JUST PUT IN HIS MOUTH? LADY QUIT STARING AT ME, HE HAS FREAKKKKIIINNNG AUTISM. So you get the point, when people choose to pursue a career in helping people with special needs I'm awed.

I have noticed one overriding theme with these care giver's though. Many of them are cheerleader types. Coming from the unpopular smart girl with a weird name (something not in the top 100 names since the 1950's).

I instinctively do not trust them and have avoided them in my adult life. OK, that pic is a bit off. I didn't get glasses until the end of high school.  

Growing up in the middle school/high school hierarchy I was pretty guileless. So I neither had the instinct's to clique in with them or the skills to stand against them and subsequently became a target. I only learned in my late teens to early twenty's to do what I call "fake it till you make it". I'm sure I stole that from somewhere, but hey it's true. I would fake confidence until I made it and most people bought it. It's also much easier to do when you don't have a snotty twelve year sneering at you choice of shoes for the day, so maybe that explains why it happened as I got older. Right around the same time I met my first serious boyfriend. He would complain about his nerdiness and subsequent treatment during his middle school and high school period. I thought this was absolutely pathetic. I believed his (and my treatment) to be the norm, something to be noted but, moved on from. So please understand, this isn't a whoa is me, my adolescence was hard blog. It's merely a bitter diatribe based on my now ingrained behaviors from my that oh so fun pre-teen/teen period.  

I was recently discussing weekend plan's with Chris, who is Jay's ABA therapist, when she told me she had taken dance for some ridiculous amount of years (I think twelve). Here is what I see in my head after she tells me this factoid:

Dance girls, flag girls, gymnast's, spirit girls, it's really all the same to me. This Dallas cowboys cheerlead image sizzling on the backs of my eyeball's reminds me, be weary. I have to admit, I felt a bit betrayed, she had tricked me into liking her. Of course, I still think she's wonderful but she was one of the few out of the twenty (or maybe thirty, god only knows) some odd providers I've met that I actually liked personally. It's because they all exude that, look at me, I'm fit, on time, my hair's not frizzy, I looked well rested, I have a great credit score, I never feel the need to bludgeon stranger vibe. Well whoop-de-doo, you make great personal choices, congrats. 

It also happens at my son's school. Jay attends a private school for kids with Autism and related disabilities. We've begged, borrowed and, yes (well practically) stolen to keep him there. Depending on your funds/funding you'll end up paying between six thousand dollars per year to twenty-two thousand dollars per year including the summer session.

 I, in my used, gas gage not working, door trim being held on by a paper clamp, 96' dodge neon was an interesting sight for sure. I regularly pulled up next to a Mercedes-Benz. Still to this day, I marvel at the amount of SUVs on the lot, what with gas being over three dollars per gallon.

I now drive a Toyota. Their car's make mine look like something you'd put your golf club's in the back of. 

Please don't misunderstand me, the moms were never any less than cordial but there was a social line. It was as palpable as braille. I called them the "blonde moms brigade". I remember reading in one Autism book, that I no longer remember the title of. When her son was initially diagnosed the mom "wanted to make Autism look good". I remember having that fleeting thought myself. I don't know about her delusion but mine ended fairly quickly. Autism does not look good on anyone. Yet somehow, these women came in, hair done, tan skin, matching outfits? "The blonde mom's brigade" is the embodiment of making Autism look good. Something I thought to be impossible. I was lucky if I'd remember to brush my teeth before I dropped him off in the morning (well that explains some of the looks). I used to wonder if they got up at five in the morning and if so when the frick did they go to bed? The Stepford wives, in real life, very scary stuff.

love the matching, yet alternating hats, don't you?

The fact they could pull it together over gala's and yard sales and bake sales to raise money for the PTO while looking like Autism Barbie. It was as if Autism wasn't tearing their lives apart. The illusion that they made Autism look good both flabbergasted and frustrated me. I always felt like Autism was the pink elephant in the room. Another braille conversation, kept silent due to the unspoken rule. I felt as if Autism would shred through my skin, from the inside out any day. I was Sigourney Weaver, ready to unleash the unspeakable terror upon earth. 

Most of those mom's have moved on and I only get to stop and reflect now because our time is almost up too. Jay is going to a public school next year. His ABA therapists swear up and down he is ready. I will be praying that all goes well and that we don't have to return to the private school (aka, my personal hell).  I'm praying that through my frustration I make some connections and come to the realization that all spectrum mommies are fighting their own battles. I suppose these thoughts suggest something about my own personal psyche. I do wonder though, doesn't everyone have these thoughts, even the Autism Barbies? I truly suspect that on the inside they look more like the the Autism cheerleader I look like on the inside.

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