Lack of qualifications


There are many problems, sorry 'issues', associated with autism.

The primary issue is a serious lack of qualifications in parents.

Whilst the averagely pregnant person isn't qualified for parentdom, neither is the average parent qualified for autism. This mismatch may have a profound impact upon the overall well being of a family.

Whilst there is a lot of hub bub about early intervention for an autistic child, very little is heard about early intervention for the parents. For myself, I can confirm that I was very ill equipped in the autism department. Of all the many useful and fascinating pieces of information I had stored away, very few of them had any relevance to autism.

As we all now know, getting a jump on autism, would be tricky because of the variety pack nature of the condition. There is no point in nipping out to buy many pairs of nail clippers to distribute around your entire house and handbag, if it turns out that your child doesn't have that kind of autism. Similarly, there is no point in spending your pregnant months on a crash course on speech pathology, if it later turns out that your child doesn't have that kind of autism. I think that basically, we, the parents, are asking for some streamlining here. What we need is predictability so that we can formulate a plan, to make the future more certain, and adopt routines and campaigns……………..

I think I should have completed one of those multiple choice sheets whilst I was pregnant. One of those papers where you colour in the little preference boxes, to narrow down the field a little. Things that you want in your child. Things that you believe you can cope with.

For myself, I wouldn't have wanted a mucky kind of a child. I'd much prefer a shiny clean one that sparkles a lot. I'd also want a nice placid one that I could cuddle a lot, a bit like a teddy bear, where everyone would say 'ah, how cute.' I wouldn't wish to spend a lot of time catering to nutritional needs, as that would be so time consuming and tedious. Ideally, it would be nice if they had a hobby, something that was entertaining and perhaps educational.

It's not a long list, but it's an important one.

And do you know what? If that had been my list, not that I had an inkling of the life to come, that is exactly what I have, one way or another.

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A place for everything and everything in it's place

In the rush, I forget. I arrive at the school for pick up, just in time. [translation = to get a parking place] I gathered my small people and shepherded them to the safety of the car. There seem to be far too many legs and arms around for me to keep hold of and I am again grateful for the lovely car, or rather the lovely car's automatically opening doors. As they slide open to allow for easy entry, junior stops dead and screeches as the top of his lungs. [translation = approximately 400 people turn in our general direction to see which child has a stake through the heart] Two children enter the car and take their seats, one remains steadfast on the curb incoherent. He assumes the position, curled like a shrimp on the pavement, his body appearing to have convulsions. The retching, choking noises are interspersed with rooster noises. [translation = better than screaming and an indication that verbal communication should be returning shortly] People step around him. Several kindly persons offer assistance. My explanation that he 'will be just fine,' appear to be a patent lie. Clearly the child is having a near death experience, whilst I, his mother sit by his side and stroke his back. I peer through the moving crowd. His teacher is at the door. She gives me a thumbs up sign and smiles. [translation = he had a great day at school, sorry the 'great' part of the day is now over]

His sister leans out of the car to check on his progress, “maybe five minutes? D'ya think?” Her assessment is probably more accurate than mine. [translation = of his recovery time] I nod and smile. She turns her attention to her other brother, where they entertain each other with crumbs left over from their lunch sacks. [translation = thank goodness it's only one child having a meltdown with no knock on effect to the others!]

Junior realizes that he is on the ground. [translation = tactile aversion is playing second fiddle to whatever the current horror is] He flips over to make a remarkably accurate impression of a Russian dancer as he kicks his feet out to shake off the dust. His squeaks are timed perfectly. [translation = coordinated in time with the leg thrusts] He leaps to his feet, brushing off specks of dirt like a whirling dervish. Once he is satisfied that he has achieved the desired level of cleanliness, he sighs and droops a bit. I take this is my cue.

“What is so bad dear?” He sparks remembering what it was that set him off in the first place. He points a tremulous index finger to the interior of the car. [translation = the same car that we have had for two years.] I look too, just in case.
“You're gonna kill me?” I look blankly at him trying to connect dots that I cannot see. He helps me out. “You're gonna kill me wiv dat fing?” I notice the dust buster on the carpet, left over from my 'blitz the car' effort. I am so lucky that he is now able to tell me things.

“Oh that's a mistake, I just forgot to put it back on the recharger.” The dust buster is one of his more hated domestic appliances. [translation = because of the noise] It is my habit, to announce in a loud voice that I am about to use a domestic appliance. [translation = this is a vast improvement upon having to all housework at night, when they are in deep sleep]

This is thus a two fold problem? Firstly, there it is, the hated thing. Secondly, the hated thing has popped up unexpectedly in the wrong place at the wrong time. [translation = boo!] I remove the hated thing and sling it in the boot. [translation = trunk] He takes a cautious step towards the car, examines the floor and gently brushes the carpet fibres where the hated thing had been lying, just to make sure that it is truly gone and that there is no cross contamination.

We drive home. “So! Does the car look clean?” I ask under the foolish misconception that anyone might care one jot.
“You wash dah car?” he asks incredulous. I have occasionally used an automatic car wash service. Once, I had the children in the car with me whilst it was automatically washed. My idea of entertainment and my boys' idea of entertainment did not match. [translation = rats in a trap that is on fire]

To me, the presence of the dust buster signifies that I have cleaned the carpet at least, but it appears that this is not an automatic conclusion. I remind myself that I have a whole book about teaching inferences to autistic children. I remind myself that maybe I ought to dust off that book, instead of the car carpet. Seems that I do everything too “late.”

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