We live with an Aspergers child. Therefore, we sit in lots of meetings. Meetings with teachers, with vice principals, with therapists, psychologists, psychiatrists, plain vanilla doctors, representatives of charities, governmental health workers, other parents for support, and on and on. Yesterday we met with most of all of the above. We have been through something called MST, Multisystemic Therapy. We have attended wraparound meetings. We have attended support groups. We have bribed our child with money, energy drinks, late bedtimes, crowns for Wizard 101, Dairy Queen blizzards, and extra french fries. We have cajoled and begged, pleaded and coerced. And gone to meetings. Meetings are what experts tell you to attend when you first begin, when you are in the middle of the hell, and when you’ve reached your rope’s end.
Caretakers of autistic children are a special breed. Their rearends sit somewhat comfortably for hours on end in chairs gathered around conference tables, their eyes accustomed to being rolled as yet one more young social worker earnestly recites to them the latest new old method to use on special needs child that is guaranteed to work. The caretakers know by heart the list of things psychologists and social workers will write under the words “Needs,” “Strengths,” “Methods,” and “Outcomes.” They know all of the needs, oh, god, do they know the needs. They also know full well the strengths of their autistic child. What they don’t see is how those strengths can be used to fulfill all those needs. How does the fact that our child has friends on Wizard 101 fulfill the need that he has to at some point in the next month or so get up from the chair in front of Wizard 101 and actually wash his hair?
Wits’ ends have been reached. We are out of ideas. And so apparently are the social workers and the psychologists and all those learned people. Living with an autistic child can sometimes be a joy. It can also be tremendously sad and difficult. We are thankful for the support of all of those experts, but we are still looking for one idea, one glimmer, one method that will help move this child just one step, maybe even just a half of a step, toward improvement. We have attended all the meetings and we promise that we have not slept through a single one. We have jumped through all of the hoops they write down on blackboards, on white boards, pinned up on bulletin boards. The meetings have not worked. We need something that will.