I've been working on a blog about regression that life needs to play out a little longer before I can finish. In writing it, however, I keep coming back to a quick theme that deserves its own blog.
I have an amazing father.
I have several amazing people in my life, but this one is about Dad (sorry, Mom, you got the last one).
We've been having a rough last week or two. The boy hasn't been doing well (that's another blog). Every aspect of treatment looks for triggers or antecedents for behaviors. You wrack your brain searching for what is different. Is it a new setting? Is it a new transition? Is it less OT? Is it something he's eating? Is it the way I drove to school this morning? Do his teeth hurt? Does he watch too much TV? and on and on.
We have 2 1/2 years of data that rarely point to something specific.
So why now? Why is he behaving this way now? Is he regressing? Is he losing the skills he worked so hard to gain? For the first time since his diagnosis, these questions were keeping me up at night... worrying. What can I be doing differently.
So I called my Dad.
My father is a pediatric physiatrist (a doctor specializing in physical medicine and rehabilitation). He does not see children with autism specifically (although he sees several with other disabilities that are also developmentally delayed or autistic). He's a damn good one, too. We've had numerous talks about my son. We went to a conference together. He's started seeing children with autism in the regional centers he volunteers at in the Central Valley to assess physical needs that might not have been seen before. He's explained Occupational Therapy to me numerous times (some of which I still don't understand). Again, he's amazing.
But today I didn't need professional opinions or advice.
I needed my daddy.
And he was there.
Dad told me how periods of regression are normal with any developmental disability. They are going to come and go. You need to make sure you stay on the rehabilitation path you (and your team) have chosen. He's treated dozens to hundreds of children and seen it dozens to hundreds of times. And yes, rarely, those periods don't go away. Some children with autism DO regress. Some DO lose skills. Some DO retreat so far into themselves they become unreachable. What do I do then? And the answer was perfect. You deal with it then. Surround yourself with the best team you can for your child (and yourself). Just keep going on with the confidence knowing you are doing the best you can for your child.
It's not eloquent advice. It's not even eye-opening or ground-breaking. It's what I needed to hear.
As parents of special needs children, we are constantly seeking answers to questions.
The answer I needed was that the person I admire most, the father I aspire to be, thought I was doing the best I could.
Sometimes the answers we seek are right at the end of our arm. They are found in the arms of an embrace. They are found in the eyes of a friend. They are found on the lips of a spouse. They are found in the babblings of a child.
But they are found.
Seek, my friends. Seek.