Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Optimist or Pessimist?

Years ago, there was an argument in my home about whether I was an optimist or a pessimist. One person arguing the former, one the latter. I myself felt like an optimist with a pessimistic idea about the rest of the world, but my opinion didn't seem to figure in the argument. I can only say that my last blog indicates that I must have an optimistic streak, or I wouldn't have been so sure that I would have the time and space to blog regularly once more.

Life always seems to get in the way.

Of course, the living of it is much more important than the telling of it, but time for reflection would be nice and maybe a moment to process feelings, ideas and a plan for action, but alas, it has been a time of treading water.

So I've decided to jump out of one pool I've been swimming in, until there is a reason to jump in again. Besides publicizing a reading/signing event with St. John's Booksellers (www.stjohnsbooks.com) on February 13th, I am going to take a break from the book promotion treadmill and actually find the time to write. That part of me is aching to get into action again, and stop all this practical nonsense and go with words. I'm going to listen. My soul needs it.

The other pool that is a continual lap is the parenting pool, one that I find warm and comfortable if sometimes exhausting, but has found me lately in the deep end floundering. But I got a helping hand on Sunday from a fellow swimmer, who may have saved my life.

She called us. She'd heard through the parenting grapevine that autism was touching our lives and offered to share her knowledge and experience with us, and as a parent with a nearly 13 year old son with autism spectrum disorder, she's had plenty of experience. Her son sat next to our daughter in 2nd through 5th grade, and they were friends. He's a love.

She came bearing books and information and laughter and good news about our youngest son's coming journey through Portland Public Schools as a kid with a likely label of high functioning autism or asperger's syndrome. The official stamp isn't on the paperwork yet, but his teacher's recommendation for him to go to a nearby school's high-functioning autism class for kindergarten in the fall is a clear indication of where he thinks our boy falls on the spectrum.

Plus everything our eyes, minds and hearts tell us when we learn more about what autism can look like, and how he interacts with the world.

The mom who came on Sunday gave us the names of her favorite books--so we wouldn't have to read the dozens she'd already waded through--her favorite resources, her experiences with schools, with parents, with therapeutic methods that did or didn't work, and the warning that if anyone tells you "you have to try this, it will work miracles and will cure your kid" to back away slowly.

She also showed me especially (my wife doesn't go to the dark places I go, so maybe I'm a pessimist after all) that I should count my blessings. Our son is high functioning. He is of average or above average intelligence. He is highly verbal and has a wicked sense of humor. He's starting from a good place. Even if it took several failures to find a preschool that could hold him. I should be excited he's got a near photographic memory, even if his social skills need work and he'd rather be a dog most of the time. Heck, so would I.

So I'm swimming again, but it doesn't feel so deep. I'm taking a breather and making big strokes. I'm looking forward to diving into words again in a big way. Maybe I'm being an optimist this morning.

No comments: