Sunday, January 16, 2011

Acceptance.. in the dictionary it goes between "Sh!t" and "Growth"

Yes, I know technically it doesn't.. but my title would sound pretty stupid if I said Acceptance went after "Aardvark" and before "Ball-cock". It would also fail to show what this post is about. Actually, reading back, the title doesn't say anything anyway, so maybe "Aardvark" and "Ball-cock" is more appropriate.

So getting back on track. I am having my arse whipped by "Acceptance" the last couple of weeks. Despite my intentions, Acceptance keeps throwing life at me in various types of disaster until I do finally agree that it has to be part of my life. It's crap and I hate it, but like the stain on the wall from the dropped Spaghetti plate, it never goes away, you just have to learn to forget how it got there.

So what do I have to accept? Mainly that I am not running the miles I want to; the miles I have to, to reach the goals I had set myself in May 2010. I am trying to get my running schedule back on track from the inconsistency that has existed since September, (and was very apparent in December), but life is just getting in the way. This is the "Sh!t" part of the dictionary.

Normally, you can work around life. Little bumps and hills are easy to navigate around. However, I have been given huge mountains that are beginning to look like ranges rivalling the Rockies in size. The main cause of these diversions from my goals is my Son D. Don't get me wrong, D isn't the problem, it's the fact that people just don't WANT to understand my little man. This leads me onto another form of acceptance. Acceptance that we are all different.

My son has Autism; it's mild compared to a lot of Autistic kids, but he is still Autistic. Autistic kids think differently. They see connections in the world we don't. How we think baffles them, because frankly when you experience life through their eyes, we have it ALL wrong. No matter what degree of Autism these kids suffer from; whether they are verbal/non-verbal or high-functioning/mental deficit or isolated/over-social, hyper-sensory/hypo-sensory, I think deep down these children (and adults) ALL see the world the same. Unlike many handicaps, there is no big physical sign screaming "these kids have a problem". Because of that, I think they are often mis-understood, especially in the high-functioning children that suffer from Autism.

I was trying to explain this to a friend the other day and I used this example. You meet an unknown man and you strike up a conversation. Initially he maybe unreceptive and you think "huh?". Then eventually, you both start talking about a certain topic, but then the man keeps going on and on without letting you talk - now you think he's rude. He won't look at you directly and yet keeps talking. You can't figure out - is he just talking to me to humour me; is he bored? Yet again, you think he's rude. The thing is, he isn't, he's Autistic. However, he talks, he is eloquent, he is social, so the last thing you think is that he's Autistic. You just think he is plain, flat-out rude.

This is what has been happening with my Son and "certain" adults in his school. Because they don't know about Autism; they don't see through his eyes, they are assuming his outbursts are because he is willful or oppositional. They are treating him as "naughty" (his words) and not realising that the willfulness they are seeing are a consequence of their initial behaviour and NOT because he is being defiant. I can see it because I see the situation through his eye's. He is being reactive in his responses, not active in his behaviour.

This has lead to complaints in the school which are being investigated, but still the effect it has on D will last months. I can't and won't blame him, because he is in an environment where people he should respect (and he does, because Autistic children are very rule based) are treating him like crap. The adults he deals with all know his issues and yet SOME (not all, in fact not most) are not vigilant or caring enough to investigate his behaviours.

So the effect on him has lead to consequences of my own. I can't go out running when I want in the mornings (a goal of mine), because he might not have help in the classroom he needs, or he maybe anxious to go. I can't go running for as long as I want or as far as I want in case I get called back. I have had to cut back his time in school because of the anxiety he has, so therefore there is less days I can go running. I am spending more time in the school than I had expected; going to meetings and having conversations with certain parties. The "free" time I had expected 10 months ago is NOT happening.

This has lead to an acceptance in me, that my goals at the moment are not going to happen. I wanted to run a 50K trail marathon in April; nope I can't see that. I am now focusing on running the Vancouver Marathon in May. Will it be barefoot? I can't say, it depends if I can get the mileage in to toughen my feet up. Will the marathon be the time I expected, No. I think I will be glad if I get to the end.

However, acceptance is a great thing. It's a sign of growth. The second, or is it third, part of my title. It's late, I have had wine and a busy week - hey, I am just amazed I can type.

There are certain things in this world we should NEVER accept; war, religious intolerance (of any faith), violence, famine, bigotry and hatred. Acceptance that life is a fluid journey and that we need to adapt; that we shouldn't push ourselves in one area of our lives at the expense of another - that is a personal strength.

So I am NOT going to do the trail 50K in April, however, I will do the Vancouver Marathon in May and I will attempt 50K at "Mind the Ducks" two weeks later. I still have my goals, they have just slid a little. What have I gained because I have accepted my old goals are currently un-attainable? I have gained a son who will find a class that accepts him and his world. I am also finding there are other ways I can spend my time. Now that I am not going to running so much, I have a different schedule I can plan for; I am writing, reading and developing myself in other ways. I am taking courses about Autism so I can help and teach Autistic kids to reach their potential. I am helping with BRS more.

So is Acceptance a bad thing? It depends on what you do with it I suppose. Acceptance can mean you don't fight for anything - not a good move. However, acceptance can also mean you pick your battles. You chose what is worth fighting for. How can that EVER be a bad thing?

I must start running again; that is the 3 or so thoughtful posts in a month. I had better get back to being socially strange before people wonder what this blog is all about. :)


  1. I totally get you.
    Jupie was in a school that could not seem to provide the environment that he needed. He is not, I repeat, is not responsible to adapt to the environment. Here anyways, they are supposed to provide an environment that is conducive to learning for him. Jupiter has the problem's communicating and should not try to accommadate the teacher which is what used to happen until he rebelled and made things change. He also gave one of his therapists a concussion from a head butt. He should not be head butting but when you don't get how to tell people to eff off appropriately or something like that its the teacher or therapist that should change.....
    Now he is in a school that gets that they are the ones that need to be flexible.
    Granted Jupiter needs to learn to "go with the flow" but that will come later on and at his pace and no one else' me on a roll and all fired up!! :)

    The stress level for all of us went down when Jupiter got into a school that was suited for him. No more depression, aggression, and we have a happy Jupiter that is growing and learning.
    Maybe you need to see about a different school instead of trying to change the one he is in?? I used to go to school with Jupiter until it was just too much and I realized after being there that I didn't like it either so why was I making him go and then the school change happened and he is happy.

    I hope you can get something worked out. I know how hard it is when you see other people, adults that should know better, not "get" your kid. Hang in there :) Hugs from me to you and D!

  2. You are such an amazing mother. My son has Asperger's which now is considered a part of the autism spectrum. This is one of the reasons we are homeschooling, that and his unique way of thinking, seeing things from a different perspective and non-linear learning. BTW, his social skills seem to be improving with age.
    I often find myself wishing that people would make an effort to at least try to understand than jump to judgment. We are all guilty of that, I guess.
    As for training, I've been reading that INTENSE intervals can produce similar changes in muscles as prolonged endurance training. I haven't tried yet because I don't want to aggravate Achilles tendon injury that after many months is still not healed. I am intrigued though because if true that kind of training could be a great time saver.

  3. Angie - it's only a small part of his school team that are causing the issues. The rest of his team are fantastic and frankly I wouldn't want to move schools and lose them. We just have to work around the elements we have issues with :D

    Something I have learnt from this course is that ALL behaviour is communication. You said he shouldn't headbutt, but he has no other way of communicating. The therapist was doing something Jupiter didn't like and it may well have been that Jupiter had TRIED to communicate he didn't like it but the therapist was unaware of the hints :) Jupiter then had to almost "shout" how he was feeling and then only way he could do it is physically. D does this too - although he has now gone into self-harm. He is aware enough that he shouldn't hit others, but he has no other way of showing his frustration, so he hits/bites himself.

    Going with the Flow is hard for all our kids I think. D is on the high-part of the spectrum and this is hard for him. Again, this course explained it like this. Our brains are like filing cabinates. Neuro-typical people have a fairly organised cabinates and can pretty much recall memories, reactions, social cues at a moments notice. Autistic kids don't have this type of mental organisation - so they require routine and repetition to deal with the stress of dealing with a messy mental filing cabinate. :)

    I would highly recommend "How to be a Para Pro" by Diane Twachtman-Cullen. The first half describes how the Autistic mind works and the second half gives you tools on how to create ABA type solutions to issues. (schedules/choice boards/PIC boards/timers) It's the course textbook for my course and I have had several "Ahh" moments reading it.

    Ewa, We have considered Homeschooling, but one of D's difficulties is socialising and dealing with chaotic environments. I would rather give him tools to deal with these situations than eliminating the stressors. I am a little bit of a cruel Mum in that way. I saw a button/badge someone had made for their son, it said, "I am not being rude, I have Autism". I wish I knew where she got it from, because sometimes it's something we need to put on our kids jackets. :)

  4. Although I don't have a child with Autism I can understand how life throws things your way that you don't get much of a choice with. I watch a good friend of mine struggle with her child and can see what a toll it takes on her and the rest of her family. She made t-shirts for her child to wear when they went on summer outings that said, "I have Autism, what's your excuse" and "Autism. Always under the influence" and "Staring at me will not cure my Autism". She got tired of the looks people would give her when they were in public and her big 10 year old was acting like a 2 year old. I think most people are just uneducated about Autism and so they don't react appropriately. But in a school setting, you would think that they would be educated in that area. I really hope things improve and you'll be able to get back to doing what you love and achieving your goals. Sometimes I have to remind myself that having kids and taking care of them means sacrificing some of the things that I want for a time. And with sacrifice comes great blessings. I hope things improve for you!