Muster

The gate-keeper claimed 30 years of experience in disability services while he eyed our son. Our son, who just happens to be a very talented collage of a person on the autism spectrum and a recent high school graduate.

After we were asked 15 times over 5 minutes in 15 different ways imaginable IF we paid our application fee. Then we were told by the gate-keeper that this particular gentleman possessed two friends. These alleged friends just happen to be a father and son, of whom are both doctors no less. And that these two “highly pedigreed friends” (cough, cough out the side of his face) just happen to have young grandson/son in common, who happens to be Autistic.

And we are supposed to care? Well, yes in general, we care very, very much – but we did not care at all for the insertion of this particular fact while in a meeting regarding our sons secondary education needs. The 5 x 5 office space was already too cramped and eye contact was going to get pretty limited. Right. About. Now.

“Well, my friend and his son, both who are DOCTORS, do NOT believe that vaccines cause Autism.” The gate-keeper proclaims to his ever deflating potential student.

He draws a loud breath and continues….”We will require a 3 hour reading and writing assessment.” For art classes – even labs. Awesome. Didn’t we cover our Achilles heel well enough over the 15 years of education, therapies, assessments, awards, grades, passing standardized testing, web-site, art submissions earning honors, even the high school ceramics teacher staying on one more year before retiring all because of the massively unique talent this particular college applicant possesses?

“But, if you haven’t paid that application fee, I fail to understand how he is already in our system.” Gate-keeper stated. “Because he earned that 4.0 grade when he attended a running start college class while in high school in industrial arts (yes, while in special education). AND, I understand it was a fairly complicated class.” Came my snarky retort. None of us in our family circle were confused anymore – our son was being assessed, not admitted, by a person with so much experience, BUT without even a tiny clue regarding Autism. Oh right! His pals were doctors, right!?! And, discussing vaccines during this meeting was critical and germaine to our sons college success, but of course! W. T. F.

While leaving we deliberately and mis-leadingly scheduled “the assessment test” and flagrantly walked past admissions without paying our application fee. But we were not defeated. Oh no, not us, not now and possibly never again. Because, as his parents, we knew there was no conceivable way we were going to subject this fine young man, who possesses the heart of a lion, to a situation in which he was going to fail. This is a person who understands everything, yet his disability lies in communication. He has adapted admirably to his disability within the creation of his own art. This art supports his need to communicate with the world what it is like to be a person with Autism.

During the drive home we cooled him down, explained that he needs only a certain set of skills in which to create his graphic art, and he was going to learn and expand those skills. Ended up he was somewhat relieved, knowing that he would not have to endure any class in which he was not highly interested in, just to earn a diploma. He’s paid enough dues. So we’ve looked around and soon found a better and more meaningful path for him.

Incubating his new skills, refining old ideas and thoughts that he so desperately wants to communicate with us all, The Astronaut is learning his new language in graphic arts. Assisted by his family and a soon to be elevated non-profit, this trip continues…….

“Go James!” ~ Your Mother, Wendy Frye

“A successful man is one who can lay a firm foundation with the bricks others have thrown at him.” ~ David Brinkley

http://www.jamesfryeartist.com

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Whistle Stop

There is a considerable amount of free-flowing information on the internet, in the papers and on the television regarding the spike in the rate of diagnosed cases of Autism.

An Autism diagnosis does change the entire landscape of the family.  From my own personal experience, receiving the diagnoses for our eldest son approximately 15 years ago was nothing less than getting hit by a freight train.  The freight train that hits you is travelling full speed, at night, in the dark and in total silence.  We never saw it coming.  Most parents, grandparents and caregivers in our generation never saw it coming.  In our “day”, it was 1 in 10,000…..now; sadly 1 in 88 is the official number.  Again, I reiterate, it has only been 15 years since our son’s diagnosis.

While the debate churns and turns even nastier regarding the cause of Autism, we do know deep in our heart what happened and how our son became so ill.  We instinctively did what we felt we needed to do for our son to get him back to “well”.  We will always be skeptical of all statements, studies, suppositions or rehash on the subject.  However, regardless of how I feel and what I know, I am standing HERE, on this blog in neutrality – and choose to only educate those who read this simple blog, on my simple page about my complicated life with the same wry twist that has saved our sinking souls.

You see, we honor our sons, both the “astronaut” and his “heroic brother”.  While we never saw the train coming, we did ultimately jump off the tracks in the attempt keep our sanity.  It was necessary, but it was not easy, and the scars are still red welts, bleeding and miserable.  We ultimately went off the grid, did the fringe therapies that were emerging science at the time, and have never second guessed ourselves then or now.

It really is surreal, sensing your son was mugged and robbed of his childhood on so many levels left sick, scared and seemingly left behind to ultimately be sent to a group home or institution when he turns 18. 

Well, he’s 18 now.  He’s healthier and stronger BECAUSE he’s had to prove himself every day since he was diagnosed.  He now walks tall, he didn’t die, and he has transformed his life and ours – paving the way to excellence in his own way.

That little boy didn’t have much of an early childhood beyond therapies, medicines, treatments, procedures, surgeries and the like.  But now, right now and into his future lays a bright and beautiful landscape.  In our thoughts, those years should have been full of the wonders and delights kids experience when they are young and learning about the world.  We feel the same type of years that were stripped from our son is now in front of us. So, we GET to flip forward and continue to parent our son after his majority year, does it really matter that much if we do? No, it doesn’t matter because he is now much healthier, engaged and driven to succeed.  He is actually enjoying the idea of continuing his education in the subjects of his choosing….and thankfully; he’s letting us come along for the ride.

As the debates escalate, parties divide and research is conducted regarding the Autism debacle, feel free to visit here at Juggling the Astronaut.  I will strive to offer up some humorous, side-ways stories, thoughts and ponderings.  Even though I will never underestimate the healing ability of humor –  I can’t promise to always be funny here every time, all the time……all I can do is try.  ~ Wendy Frye

“All the art of living lies in a fine mingling of letting go and holding on.”  ~ Havelock Ellis