Monday, December 03, 2007

Beyond FINESSE: Jen P at Find Out What Jen Finds

When I procrastinate on something, it usually turns out to be for a good reason. Jen P over at Find Out What Jen Finds gave me a wonderful Nice Matters award the other day. And while I felt compelled to immediately write a post thanking her for it and naming seven others who deserve this award, I put off that task until now. I’m glad I did, because this morning I read an amazing discussion on Jen’s blog that sheds even more light onto my understanding of families with autistic children and what they experience on a daily basis.

Consider these comments from Jen: “I went through a phase where I…couldn’t relate to my friends with neurotypical children of the same age as (my son), but I also felt like I couldn’t relate to the parents at the ASA meetings, and I didn’t really know how to relate to my girlfriends and their spouses/spices. It’s like I heard scenarios and had to stop and think, ‘does that apply to me and my situation? Can I really give an opinion?’

“When I finally came to terms to the fact that Autism will always be a part of our lives, it felt so terribly awkward to say that Autism will always be a part of our lives. And though I did say it because I knew it was true according to textbooks, there was always a feeling of uneasiness. I don’t think it was on MY part and MY acceptance. I think it was a self-imposed feeling based on what I thought other people thought and THEIR acceptance of it.”

Talk about a lot to think about as far as feelings of isolation, concerns about relating to others a in a peer group, and questions about others’ attitudes toward a condition. As a parent, this section really made it clear that parents of children with special needs cope with a phenomenal amount of stress every day and deserve a great deal of support:

“I don’t know what to expect for (my son) in school years, adolescence, college. … My biggest fear is that I’m getting ahead of myself. My second biggest fear is that I’m not planning ahead. What if I won’t fight for something because I don’t even know that he needs it?”

These soul-searching questions of Jen’s make my heart race in panic. I’ve discussed at length my tendency to react strongly to other people’s troubles on John Robison’s blog post about empathy. What would I do if I were in Jen’s place, I wonder. How does a parent with such dueling fears face one without exacerbating the other?

Jen adds that her self-discussion of such points was “spawned” (what a great word!) from discussions at Asperger Square 8 (an amazing blog that’s now in my sidebar), NTs are Weird (another terrific new addition), and John Robison’s post about the documentary Billy the Kid, which sounds like a must-see movie. I’m grateful to these bloggers for compelling Jen to write her current post, and grateful to Jen not only for introducing me to new bloggers who join John Robison in the category of tremendous, insightful, honest bloggers in my book, but for her willingness to share so much about her family life (including an ongoing array of adorable photos of her boys) to help me learn and appreciate the realities of daily life with children with special needs. She certainly deserves the Nice Matters award she received, and I’m really pleased she considers my blog a site worth visiting, too.

As for my seven nominees, this is going to take a little research and right now I have a house that looks like a cyclone’s been through. Or maybe three. If you’re a parent of a little (or big) person who’s mobile, you know what I mean!

Photo: One of my new favorites on Find Out What Jen Finds


Blogger Jen P said...

Wow, Karen, thank you for sharing your perspective and such kind words. When I wrote that post, it was for me to collect my thoughts and sort them out, and to remember what I was feeling when I read other people's posts. I didn't expect it to affect other people, but it is a good feeling to know that I started my blog to raise awareness through my journey and I'm seeing that actualizing beyond my family. Maybe I'll have to start doing more random thought posts. You don't know how much it means to me and I'm sure to other autism parents to hear your point of view. You have so much understanding (BEYOND understanding! - the passion to seek understanding) and compassion for people. Your children are so lucky to have you as a role model.

10:18 AM  
Blogger Sustenance Scout said...

Thanks so much, Jen. My whole blog has turned into a vehicle for seeking personal understanding on so many levels, and new blogging buddies like you add much to the entire experience. Thanks for all you do, and share! K.

12:06 PM  
Blogger Kim Stagliano said...

Jen, let's TAWK, I know from which you speak! My fears have fears!

I enjoy this blog! I'm reading a work in progress about a girl who is Jewish - but adopted from China as an infant. Her name is Goldberg and people stop in their tracks when they meet her for the literally "obvious" reason. It's a Young Adult book - a writer friend of mine is working on it.

Popped in from John's blog and saw your link to mine. Thanks!


12:36 PM  
Blogger Sustenance Scout said...

You're welcome, Kim! Your friend's WIP sounds terrific; let me know when it's picked up! K.

12:59 PM  
Blogger Marla Fauchier Baltes said...

Congrats on your award. Your ability to look at things from the perspective of others is amazing.

8:30 AM  
Blogger Sustenance Scout said...

Thanks so much, Marla! What a wonderful compliment. I'm certainly learning a lot from all of this. K.

8:34 AM  

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