Saturday, June 28, 2008

Autism and Residential Option

Humor! Humor is how I do it everyday; that is the secret (shhh, don’t tell anyone—tell everyone!!). Let me tell you, if I didn’t crack a joke about my life (with two autistic children) once in a while, then I would probably cry, and we all know that laughing is SO much better than crying, yes?

This Fearless Female (FF) is soon to have the experience of her life. After 13 years of hard work, daily dedication and, yes, one too many bruises later (daughter inflicting on mother), my daughter (Meghan) will soon be heading off to a residential school--a school for autistic children to live during the week for continuous education and structure. Yikes! I never thought I would be saying these words, much less writing them. I remember one day about 10 years ago, I went to a support group (a new one to try out) and walked into the conference room and sat down to what I thought was a support group for parents of autistic children, but was, in fact, a support group for “residential” children. An interesting mistake in the advertisement. After discovering the mistake, I quickly shot up and walked out (briskly) as if I didn’t even want to make note that this was, in fact, an option.

After I stepped out of the room, two women followed me, one was apologetic for the mix-up and the other woman was a very kind mother of a 13-year-old autistic daughter. I asked her the inevitable question, “Why?” She smiled and explained “It’s the girls,” the girls seem much more severe than the boys (a fact that I had also heard), and that when girls reach the teenage years, they seem to become much more violent “Hurting people, tipping over armoires, tvs, etc.” she told me that she had no choice. I never forgot her smile and the way she was shaking her head; the look of just knowing that this was, someday, to be my own daughter's “fate,” as well. I told her quite frankly that I would do whatever it takes to make sure that this doesn’t happen to my daughter… and I really believed I would.

I believed that I had ten years of hard work coupled with the guidance of therapies that, perhaps, this woman (never did get her name) didn’t have to her advantage--at that time. I picked a great collaborative, teachers, ABA program (a learning style, technique); had lots of resources at my fingertips--and utilized them. I knew Meghan was much more “severe” than other autistic children in her class, but I would read, read, read, and do the work hard that I had to do to “cure” her, and that I had ten years to do it--WOW, what a feat!

In the meantime, my son was also diagnosed with PDD (Pervasive Developmental Delay), this is also on the autism spectrum. CRASH! Boy, was I busy. Tired. Angry. And, oh boy, did I have my work cut out for me! So, to start my long journey with autistic children, I went on a vacation--by myself!


Kathy_WebMD said...

Holly -- you're very brave and I respect your decision. I have a son with autism and I know the fear you're facing. But if you're sure this is the right thing, you love your daughter enough to do this.

Loving your blog. Keep writing!


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gwfrink3 said...

Brave decision, well-made.

Holly Nappi Collins said...

Thank you both for the support and comments. We have chosen a very good school for Meghan and we are very happy with our decision. We know it is the best solution for her. Thanks again!


Anonymous said...

The fact that this woman told you "it's the girls, they are much more severe" is such an ignorant and false statement. I have seen many girls do very well and many recover. Continue vaccinating, putting them in rote ABA (rather than high quality ABA such as Lovaas or CARD) and refusing to do any biomedical and yes, they will become more severe. I have no doubt this mother was brainwashed by the very residential unit her daughter was in. Trust me, they have no interest in recovering children. Formalized babysitting at a huge cost is more like it.