So, as I have mentioned several times, I work for Bethesda, at their Short Term Behaviour home in Vineland, and I love my job... but really, who thought I would be attending a seminar as a parent and not as a Support Worker? That was a different feeling last night, and a very vulnerable feeling at that. I was in a conference room, with my mother, and my in-laws, and it began to fill up. The seminar was packed, full of parents, grandparents, care givers, and even extended family.. we were all brought together to share stories of our children, hardships, and triumphs.. it was truly amazing.
I have been in several Case Conferences for work with our clients, and have had the pleasure of listening to Dr. Kerry Boyd. She is so smart, I could listen to her speak all day, and so personable as well. Dr. Boyd taught us the fundamentals of ASD, what the charateristics are, the history of the syndrome, abd different levels and severity of it. We as parents, got to share some experiences, for myself.. I shared that Owen is almost non-verbal, but he communicates by pulling you by the shirt, or he will use pointing and hand gestures. I also explained that when he is in a social situation, other children and adults do not understand what he is doing, which makes it frustrating for him, and breaks my heart as him mother.
We then had a 10 minute break, where I was fortunate enough to speak to a co-worker of Ryans, who is personally going to look into Owen's intake file for Bethesda, for this, I thank her so much. She gave us quite a bit of information on the whole process, and did say the wait list is 2 years, so I am very confident of keeping Owen in the private therapy in the meantime.. we do not want to wait anymore. I also got to see a friend of my sisters, who's son was also recently diagnosed with ASD, and he is 6. We tried to talk about different issues, and we did for a while.. then I get really emotional.. as I have said, Owen is the hardest thing right now for me to talk to people about.. so we are going to become, "facebook" friends, and hopefully be there for each other through this new phase in our childrens lives.
After the break, we had the oppurtunity to listen to a mother of a son who is Autistic, who is finishing highschool and is 20 years old. She was amazing.. she made me laugh at some of the stories, that really, only parents of an ASD child truly understand, and of course (because I am a BIG suck) made me cry at the struggling journey she had, and continues to have. She never sugar coated anything, probably my favourite thing she said was, "people are going to tell you God never gives you anything you can not handle.. yes he does".. because sometimes, a lot of these parents feel that way, and especially if the child is very behavioural, where (knock on wood) Owen is not at all.
I was encouraged by her, that Owen WILL talk, it just takes time. She got through to her son with music, so now I am looking for that vice for Owen, that will reach him the best.. I am thinking In the Night Garden? Dress as Iggle Piggle? ooooo how I love Owen. We were also able to watch a video of her son, starting from the age of Owen right up until a couple months ago at highschool. How amazing!!! Her son was very different from Owen, very aggressive as a child, could not sit still, and ran into traffic sometimes.. I felt for the mother. Back then, so 20 years ago, there was no IBI programs, so this incredible women, she made her own program, gave him therapy in their livingroom.. it was inspiring. We also saw on the video, the day her son sang the national anthem, and everyone stood up to clap.. and you could see the emotion on her face as we watched it, what a triumph.. from a child that did not speak for the longest time.. it was so touching. We also observed her son becoming aggitated, which a lot of the parents could relate to, they were it so clearly on their little faces. The end of the video was truly inspiring for me as well, he is graduating highschool and sang in the highschool musical Grease...and he had NO early intervention.
All in all, I loved it. I loved meeting other ASD parents, I loved having the support of my mother and in laws there, and I loved learning.. knowledge is an amazing thing. I can not wait till next Wednesday.. on this journey not only for Owen.. but for me, to becoming a better and more knowledgable mother for him.