My momma once told me that…
My momma told me a lot of things and at the time whether I believed what she told me or not, I respected her (and my dad.) I grew up in a generation where you were taught to respect your elders and my parents were older, therefore my elders. I also knew if I dared to “talk-back” there was always a bar of soap that would wash those words right out of my mouth.
Now to some of you reading this you may think that sounds like cruel and unusual punishment but in the 1950’s and early 60’s parents did use tactics like soap, and paddles, and even belts to (not to torture) but to put the sting and bad taste into our mouths and brains cells in order for us not to repeat those unapproved acts of defiance.
My brothers and I grew up to be loving self-sufficient adults with very few resentments or phobias, we wanted to be good kids, no one wants to disappoint mom or dad on purpose! However, as we grew older we did disappoint and we had to choose between disappointing ourselves or them. Making choices like that are difficult.
Those choices have remained difficult for me and I think that is why I am in this predicament.
When you have a special needs child you want to do what is best for them as well as for yourself. It is never in your plan to have a child with special needs who will have struggles and challenges that even you as a parent will never fully understand. However, you also know how important it is to allow that child grow into a young adult and be their own person and fall down and get up their own, even when getting up is paralyzing. You try to balance between lending a hand and walking away. When you reach out to help you are wrong and when you turn your back you are wrong and you realize there is no balance after all.
Before my mom passed away we often talked about Alex and my wishes for his future, Happiness. I shared with my mom that I prayed that he would find his center and someone would reach out and mentor him (not his dad or I,) and help him find his career and someone to share it with. My heart breaks as he sits in his room day after day waiting for something to happen because he doesn’t know how to make it happen and I am just his mother too far removed from understanding his generational needs.
When Alex is passionate about what he believes, he is involved 100% plus. He devours sports 24/7, and is dedicated to his Sports Broadcasting Career. His dream job is to work in Major League Baseball and of course his first love is his home town team the Cleveland Indians. He would sweep floors to get his start with the Indians and has said so for years.
The problem is, Alex is on the spectrum and despite how smart he is, how passionate he is about sports, how dedicated he would be to the job….no one listens! Because no one is listening the frustration and disrespect is here in his safe zone because I have allowed it.
I never used soap in Alex’s mouth or a paddle or belt to his bottom. Timeouts never worked, and raising voices just turned into a battle of who is louder than the next. However, I have allowed Alex to disrespect me and his dad to relieve his frustrations on how he sees the world passing him by.
Alex is not alone. I have been connecting with other families with young adults on the spectrum. Alex is among the many of lost talented, educated highly functional spectrum individuals who have nowhere to turn. They want their chance just like everyone else. I want my chance too!
My momma told me…he deserved to have his chance and I deserved to feel loved!
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