Sunday, October 07, 2007

Beyond FINESSE: Kristen at From Here to There and Back

I had to post about this because it provides such amazing insight into a world so many people know nothing about: The pressures, anxieties, and immense frustration often inherent in raising a child with autism. Kristen over at From Here to There and Back recently posted on the difficulties of communicating with the team of professionals assigned to help her son in a mainstreamed program at his school. Beyond that, she also reveals her own shock at learning that some of those team members have little, if any, experience working directly with an autistic child as well as extremely limited training. These facts were not discussed before her son was enrolled in this program and was disclosed only after Kristen prodded regarding some recent issues at school. The dismay she must have felt is enough to knock anyone off her feet for a good while. But parents with children with special needs don’t have the option to kick back and recuperate from a shock or disappointment. They have no choice but to be on call at all times, 24/7 and then some.

I had to post about this not only because Kristen’s recent posts shocked and dismayed me, but because her circle of blogging friends—many parents of children with special needs themselves—responded to Kristen’s anxieties and huge maddening frustrations with such a wide range of their own anger, empathy, sympathy, practical advice, suggestions, and plain and simple love for Kristen and her son and family. I learned a tremendous amount about life with a child with special needs just by reading these posts and their comments. As an author with a draft of a novel that explores the impact of family members with special needs, I’m indebted to parents like Kristen and her friends, parents who are more than willing to share what they go through on a day-to-day basis so others might at least have some clue. Maybe some day our school systems and governments from local levels on up will not only get a clue, but will figure out how to really help.

From Here to There and Back is a treasure trove for those who live or work with children with special needs. For those who strive to better understand the challenges these children and their families face on a regular basis, this blog is for you, too. THANKS, Kristen!

Photo © Kristen @ From Here to There and Back

6 Comments:

Blogger Sherry said...

Learning a little about what life is like for others, the challenges they face, the way they cope rounds us as individuals and one hopes, broadens our empathy, our understanding and our compassion.

12:05 PM  
Blogger Sustenance Scout said...

So true, Sherry. Your blog certainly speaks to the need for increased communication, too. Thanks for all you do! K.

3:29 PM  
Blogger paris parfait said...

I recently saw a program about children with autism and it does seem as though these children require teachers with special training. Thanks for broadening the horizons of all of us with your piece and with links to the other blog. It's wonderful how parents are helping each other and searching for the help their children need.

3:49 AM  
Blogger kristen said...

Karen,

Thank you for wanting to share our story with your readers. I do, however, want to add that while my husband and I often encounter frustrations and setbacks in raising our son, there is no shortage of joy and no end to the things we have to celebrate. It’s really not that much different from raising any child. Good times, bad times, you know, the whole bit of it that makes up this messy life.

For any child with differences, whether they are social, emotional or physical, school can be a challenging landscape. We’re lucky to live in a district that believes in supporting the children and giving them the services they need to succeed.

As it is with everything in life, it boils down to communication and awareness. We need to improve on the first one and increase the second. As with writing, we do this one step at a time, little by little, bird by bird, so to speak.

I can’t speak for other special needs moms out there and I can’t speak for every school district, but from where I sit, the view is pretty good. My son gets the support he needs, it’s just a question now of tinkering with the formula.

I worry that there is a lot of misconception about autism. I hope that your readers will take the time to read the "backstory" on my blog's sidebar, so that they can see for themselves the wonder and joy that is our world.

5:35 AM  
Blogger Sustenance Scout said...

Tara, I continue to be amazed by how the internet has helped us all broaden our horizons in such positive ways. The negatives are out there, too, of course, but it's so nice to see the positive aspects at work every day.

8:25 AM  
Blogger Sustenance Scout said...

Kristen, this is why I consider you such a terrific role model for parents. There's so much to gripe about and celebrate as a parent, and it helps so much to hear other parents point out, again and again, how wondrous this whole experience really is, despite the daily "bumps in the road" as my mom would say. Thanks for mentioning your back story, which is a truly inspiring read. Please give GP an extra birthday hug from Denver! K.

8:30 AM  

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