Friday, June 1, 2012

Not Even One

At a time when many high school seniors are graduating, going to parties, looking forward to college, and planning out what may be their last summer vacation spent with friends they have had since childhood, others will only go through the motions of graduation and have no plans to follow.  Not because they are idol or indifferent.  And not because they have no interest in their future but rather, because they have little understanding of the concept of the future itself.  That is just one aspect of autism.

When I read "Autism Ages Out into an Endless Summer" on the Age of Autism site, I couldn't help but feel the same pain, sorrow, and bit of fear for what the future may hold expressed by the article's writer, Natalie Palumbo.  Natalie's brother, Anthony, is a 21-year-old graduating senior who has low-verbal autism.  Aside from the fact that Anthony will require round-the-clock care for life, high school graduation for Anthony means a future full of uncertainty.  Or, as Natalie so succinctly put it, "No milestone in life can be planned without autism coming first."

She is right. 

Not.  Even.  One.

And that brings up another aspect of autism:  It does not matter how mildly or how severely affected by autism a child is, the autism is always there.  Although autism is not what defines the child, it is still always there.  Always creeping its way into everything.  Always making its way into the daily lives of not just the affected individual but also the lives of those around him or her.  Autism has its good days and it has its bad days but it is always present and often dictating.  Even the best laid plans sometimes do not stand a chance when put up against autism. 

The very wise and very-much-beyond-her-eighteen-years-young Natalie Palumbo understands the scope of autism and its far-reaching effects.  How I wish the rest of the world would understand it as well.  Although Reiss is in a very different place than where Natalie's brother, Anthony, is when it comes to how he is affected by autism, my family is no less aware of how great of hold autism has on the workings of our lives.  It dictates the foods we eat, how we choose our words, our plans for each day, which therapists we will see, and how many hours of therapy Reiss will endure.  Autism determines whether I will have a one-pot of coffee (mine is a four-cup mini machine) day or if my stress level will rise to a level that demands me to make a second pot in the afternoon.

Autism can seem absent for hours on end but it is never gone for long.  It may take a break and then suddenly make an appearance straight out of the blue.  Autism does not take a vacation.  It is always working.  Always finding ways to aggravate the affected child and keep those around him planning every move with the hope of maintaining some level of sanity for everyone involved.  Because no move can be made without planning around autism. 

Not.  Even.  One. 

1 comment:

Drew's Diary said...

God, isn't that true! I didn't want to agree with this post; but I do.