It has been a really big week of reflection here. It was our eldest child’s birthday. He had a party with lots of his unschool friends, and spent most of the week gaming. Birthdays always get me reflecting with gratitude and sometimes a bit of parental guilt and remorse. Being the eldest, and the first person in our family identified as autistic, and a determined, spirited, free child, we have grown a lot parenting him.
This week, my wife and I have also been reflecting on our decisions about therapy. Because he’s had his birthday, our son has aged out of our government funded early intervention therapy. We haven’t accessed this funding for therapy for a couple of years and it was a fairly big moment this week to see the funding that was sitting there for his therapy, disappear unused.
I’m hoping to find a way to write about that soon – in a way that respects his privacy and also doesn’t make parents who are accessing therapy in positive ways for their child feel bad.
In the meantime, I wrote about birthdays over at Respectfully Connected. The piece was heavy for me to write. I mostly try not to think about the diagnostic process for my eldest, and that time of our life in general, because of the grief and confusion I felt at the time. But this birthday was so joyful, that I really wanted to reflect on how things have changed for us over time. Here’s an excerpt:
“Has he been invited to any birthday parties?” asks the psychologist. I am in the assessment room with our 3.5 year old. The psychologist is young, working for an Aspergers clinic with an excellent reputation. Her assessment is thorough.
“No, he’s only three. Do kindy kids invite each other to birthday parties? We usually only invite family friends to ours.” My voice is confident but truthfully, I’m starting to crumble. I’m thinking about his kindergarten, remembering bright little slips of paper in other children’s pigeon holes. Parents chatting with ease in the kindergarten foyer. There has been no chatting with parents for me. Arrivals and departures are stressful, and the moments of conversation I can manage are worried words with teachers, tinged with frustration at both ends. I hadn’t even wondered whether there were playdates and parties being organised around us. Not until now.
I also want to take another opportunity to thank everyone that has supported Way of the Cactus, my new enterprise by and for neurodivergent people. We’ve had such a wonderful reception and it’s so great posting sensory treasures to neurodivergent folk around the world. Thank you, B x