Raising my son Ramon with Aspergers has been a challenging and rewarding journey. In looking back at some of the more challenging times I recall the day when I came to realize how important it was to step back and examine where I was and more importantly where he was. It was a hammering rainy day and I was fighting traffic rushing to pick him up and take him to an appointment for group therapy (which I knew he didn’t enjoy). We were running late and I was feeling weary having to take him to yet another program. I remember this particular day feeling overwhelmed with all the meetings, medicines, diets, programs, books, therapies, etc. He could obviously sense my tension and angrily asked “Where are we going to now”. I remember pulling the car to the curb; stopping to look at him and thought “OMG! You are as tired of going to all this as I am of taking you…” It was at that moment (ah ha) when I realized it was not about fixing him and it was all about understanding him!!!
I remember after that asking myself “what does he need? Does he need medication? Does he need therapy? Does he need this program and that diet and all the other things I was doing to feel like a responsible parent that was trying to something? I really had to ask myself and know in my gut what it was that my son needed. I made a list that included daily social skills and a safe supportive environment to learn. Because he was on so many remedies it was difficult to tell what was working. I met with his caregivers, teachers and asked them what does he need? At first they provided a list of what he wasn’t doing like turning in homework, listening in class, following through with….
I decided we needed to stop doing what didn’t seem to be working and focus on what is working. I asked them to make a list of what he needs. We put our lists together and began working on one thing at a time to see what worked and what needed adjusting. It was then that I was able to better support his needs and measure the results. It was then that he blossomed and my life became more manageable.
Today Ramon is 20 years old and working two jobs one in construction and another stocking in a warehouse. He found the jobs on his own motivated to earn money to pay for his cell phone. He graduated from Village Glenn two years ago and is becoming an independent responsible young man.
As parents, we must be willing to listen to what the education system has to offer. However, we know what is best for our children and what needs to be done to help them succeed. Our voice matters for our children. Never be afraid to use it.
PAL Gail Lara, submitted this parent story