Sunday, December 27, 2009

The Year In Review

Well, it's currently the last week of December, 2009 and, it's time for me to think about the last year and plan for the next one. 2009 has definitely been a bit of a roller coaster -- in many ways a year not to be forgotten. It's when we were first introduced to autism. It was also when we took our twins to Disney World for the first time, and when Daniel discovered the wonders of summer camps. It started with a bang (both of the twins, Kevin and extended family all had a bad case of stomach flu [on New Years Day]), and will shortly end with a visit with family.

For me, 2009 has been all about "education". In January we initially contacted MCITP. By mid-February, we had begun the process of dealing with receiving services for Rachel and Simon -- although we didn't initially know that their problems were "autism" (we thought they were just "speech delayed"). My mid-March, we were specifically told that both of them were on the spectrum by a developmental pediatrician (just before leaving for our Disney World vacation). This was then confirmed by MCITP evaluations shortly after we returned. 1-2 weeks later, we were starting speech/OT in the home, and my research had begun. We've tried classroom settings and in-home ABA therapy. Diagnoses have been made and confirmed. We've been to a major research center in Baltimore (KKI) for evaluations and will continue to see the professionals there over the years. We've entered the IEP world and are preparing our nearly 3-year old twins for entry to special education preschools. And I've come to understand the importance of meeting their individual needs, even if it means separating them into different programs.

I never thought I would be in this situation, but now that I am, the education that I've received (and am continuing to develop) is definitely worth while (I just wish it didn't come as a consequence of having 2 children on the spectrum). I feel that so many people (parents, professionals, and others) are misinformed because of the lack of quality information available, and therefore the strangest treatments and theories are being brought forth, some of which can be quite harmful. As a parent of autistic children, I can only hope that I will never feel the level of desperation that has me put my children at any unnecessary risk in the hope of "finding a cure" or "reducing the damage".

Our journey is far from over, but it's a definite beginning. 2010 will bring us new schools (which will require me to put both of my 3-year-olds on a bus to go to school), a fight to keep a private program supported by the public schools, more evaluations (and possible enrollment in non-invasive studies), as well as other things that sitting right here right now I just can't anticipate. Additionally, other areas of our lives will continue to develop -- Daniel will be 5 in April and will begin kindergarten in September and Kevin and I will continue to celebrate our 12th (and nearly half of our 13th) year of marriage. And who knows what else will come? And through it all, will be my continuing education about autism and everything that comes with it.

So, much of 2009 has been about autism for me. But my life is good, my family is happy, and, when you think about it, what else really matters.

Goodbye 2009, Hello 2010! May everyone reading this have a Very Happy, Healthy and Prosperous Year!!!!!

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