I never thought I would have a child with a disability, esdnpecially Autism. It wasn’t in our family. It was very rare when I was expecting my children (1985-1990). I was healthy. I had prenatal testing to ensure that everything was ok when I was expecting my son. And then it happened. I’ve been dealing, coping and living with it ever since.
I never thought my husband would be diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. It wasn’t in his family. I thought he might have cancer or a heart attack, but not Alzheimer’s. And then it happened. And I’ve been dealing, coping and living with it for the last 6 years.
attributes, even though they move in different directions – L improving, his dad regressing.
1. L and his dad both experience a delay in processing information. I used to say something to L and count to 5 in my head before he would respond. I now do the same thing with his dad.
2. Writing a schedule or making sure L knows what’s next, lessens anxiety. It also works for his dad. They both even take the same medication for anxiety.
3. L and his dad are anxious meeting new people or being in new places: the more familiar, the better. Big parties, family reunions, and (heaven forbid) surprise parties are out of the picture for both of these guys.
4. There are still days when L has a meltdown, which is his nonverbal way of telling me he’s having a horrible day. His dad is following that same path.
And then there is the other side of the coin. As L continues to grow and gain skills, his dad is losing skills that so many of us take for granted on a daily basis.
1. L knows where Home Depot and Lowe’s are located and what products they sell. His dad 3. You shouldn’t ever assume to know the truth about someone. Addiction doesn’t always look like a drug-addled homeless person on the street, mental illness isn’t always apparent, pain does not always read across a person’s demeanor. Don’t judge people on the bits and pieces of them you can understand.
L can tell you the exact location of these cookies in the store, including aisle number, how far down the aisle, and which shelf (3rd) they’re on.
3. L asks if he can have snacks instead of taking what he wants. His dad is now hoarding and hiding food so no one else will eat it.
4. L has an acute sense of direction. Once he has been taken or driven somewhere, he can guide you, telling you which blinker to turn on, which lane to move in, since you will need to turn up here or exit. His dad has no idea, anymore, of where he is going or how to get there.
5. L used to run away. I dread the day when his dad will start wandering off.
I have spent the last 23 years thinking I was caring for, teaching, and preparing my son for a future to live to the best of his abilities, understanding he will always need some assistance. Little did I realize he was also teaching and preparing me to help his dad live to the best of his abilities during his last years with Alzheimer’s. -K