I am 2 episodes in watching The A Word on Sundance. It’s a drama TV series about Autism and how the family copes. I will agree there are not enough TV shows including children with Autism and should be more with how many are diagnosed these days. My all-time favorite show was Parenthood so I thought I would give this one a shot. I will openly admit the first episode was downright depressing and made me want to not watch. It had me in tears due to how it mirrors my family’s life – with one of my own who is living with Autism, going through the diagnosis, coping with Relative’s and Friend’s views on this. The overwhelming feeling you get when all the resources, doctor visits, research, medical insurance and treatment/therapy plans that get thrown at you and the fear of making sure your older son is coping, accepting and educated about his brother. I am going to have another panic attack just listing this out all over again.
The show so far shows the strain it can place on your relationships and is very well portrayed. I am very fortunate that Brad and I have become stronger and unified and are quite the team with managing our everyday lives as well as giving Cameron as much normalcy as possible with his own teen age life. We are not perfect and we do not have as much time for each other that we should have right now but I am here to tell you balance is bullshit right now. Our primary focus is our children and raising them both to be strong and (pray) for them to be successful and independent one day. We do our best to have date nights but those are stretched pretty thin and truth be told, we sometimes are just too tired for date nights. We celebrated 18 years of marriage on Monday. People asked me if we were going to dinner or what we were doing to celebrate? We will celebrate but it just may take us a few weeks to plan and I am ok with that right now. We wake up and tell ourselves to do our very best and conquer through. This is possible because of the strong love we have for each other.
The child on the show does an amazing job so far in the show and could not help but think of my Cody Rivers watching him. Especially when they were trying to show him how to kick a soccer ball, or wanting to play football and especially when the children were at recess and the boy would stand off watching the other children from a distance. When Cody and I go to a playground, he tends to stop and watch the other children too. Never interacts and gets frighten when they approach him but you will find that Cody does not stand off anymore and actually will get in the midst of all the children playing around him. He is typically observing every small detail around him and once he sees the slide has cleared, he will make a break so he can go down it real quick and then quickly find his safe spot. Brad and I have had several conversations how we think Cody memorizes how things happen and that is how he learns. He does this with connecting the dots on an app on his iPad, matching and sequencing games and even how the children are playing on the playground. Cody seeks solace with his technology, sometimes music, humming or swinging to block out the noise that isn’t of his making.
The parents in the show is the one area that I could not relate to. Brad and I never have been embarrassed with Cody’s Autism. Yes, we feel people at times staring but we fully understand the lack of awareness and knowledge in today’s world and those are the ones we will continue to educate (unless it’s at dinner and I am having a margarita enjoying my family.) We could not get therapies soon enough to help with his severe delays in development. This is what I don’t like about the show and the mother is just pitiful. The father is more how I handled (so far) when we first received Cody’s diagnosis. Like him, we both immediately started researching the best of the best schools and doctors in Dallas that we could give him. In the show, the mother is embarrassed and in denial about her sons diagnosis. She goes as far as wanting to home school to protect him and tells the other parents that she pulled her son from school to attend a talented and gifted program school. I get that everyone grieves differently when they get their child’s diagnosis. I get some may be in denial or do not want to label their child. I get that some may just want to be more discreet about their child’s diagnosis. I do plan to continue to watch the rest of the series even though I may disagree with how the mother copes. I believe there is never too much information and observation with it comes to Autism. The spectrum is just too big and helps me understand why some parents journey can be so far different than another families journey. Brad and I spent a year downtown for Cody’s therapies and ran into a ton of parents and attended many counseling sessions with some of these parents on a weekly basis. It was clear to me then, that everybody copes differently but the one thing I ask, regardless how you cope, early intervention therapies are key. Whatever story or lie you have to tell, make sure your child gets the therapies you can offer as soon as you see these development delays. We were doing therapies 6 months before any diagnosis. If you’re not sure what therapies, just treat the symptoms you are observing or that your pediatrician may recommend.
I don’t see Autism as a gift, but my son certainly is so I will give him the very best even if that means I have to wait on a date night. My last final thoughts, the music is the TV series is my kind of music and loved it!