Tuesday, April 3, 2012

A Tale of Two C's

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times...  Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities

The truth is that our finest moments are most likely to occur when we are feeling deeply uncomfortable, unhappy, or unfulfilled.  For it is only in such moments, propelled by our discomfort, that we are likely to step our of our ruts and start searching for different ways or truer answers.  
- Unknown
The diagnosis of classical autism (which our Little Man has been given) is just one of the many diagnoses that fall under the umbrella of what they call Autism Spectrum Disorders or ASD.  So, Autism is a "spectrum disorder."  What does that even mean?

As I meet more and more families under this large tent of ASD, and read about more and more families affected by it, I am continually amazed at the almost complete diversity among those with an ASD diagnosis.  There are some who are non-verbal and some who are hyper-verbal.  There are some who are hypo-senstive to this or that and others who are hyper-sensitive to that or this.  And there are even some where ASD is but one set of challenging acronyms the person must deal with (ADD or ADHD or even others) 

The graphic depiction of ASD as a puzzle piece is amazingly apt.  But the puzzle alone does not convey the complexity of ASD. Imagine doing a puzzle where the pieces are given to you one at a time over a period of time-with no rhyme or reason-  (no, you can’t have the outer edges first) and you have no idea what the final picture will look like. 

Now imagine that no one else has the exact same puzzle.

I do not envy any of the truly amazing people who have dedicated a substantial portion of their lives in attempting to help families put their puzzles together.  But, I thank God every day for them!

Yes, ASD is certainly complex.

As if the diversity of those falling on the Autism Spectrum does not make ameliorative efforts complex enough, you can add to that the fact that even at the individual level the severity of the impairments can swing dramatically within the same day. 

For our Little Man, we often discuss his level of “Clarity.”  He ranges from appearing completely disabled – where he is lost in a fog of his body and mind conspiring against him to make him physically uncomfortable and mentally unable to process routine daily activities – to amazingly “with it” where he is in-tune with his surroundings, engaging, effervescent, and, most importantly to my wife and I, happy.   

I love the text messages from my wife when she writes something like… “those beautiful blue eyes are so clear today.”

I am so thankful I live today, where the beauty of modern communication and technology make it possible to read about families like ours around the world who have had some luck in putting their puzzles together and can share ideas to help us achieve more clarity.


  1. I hope you receive many more texts from your wife like that. :)

  2. My wife and I both worked in the mental health field and we also both have a psychiatric diagnosis. We know how tough and unique each person's situation can be. We also know how hard these disorders are for families, especially parents.

    Thanks for sharing your story; your challenges. I hope you get the answers you need and that things improve for you and your family.

    1. Thank you, Horst. I hope the same for you and your family!

  3. Hold onto those wonderful moments, they'll help you through the tough times.

    My mother works in a Special Ed. classroom for ASD elementary-school children, and I've had the joy of visiting and helping on a few outings. It can be tough, but those moments of clarity and brilliance from the children make it all worth it.

  4. Just stopping by again. I learn a lot reading your posts. Also, I like the quotations at the top of each one.

  5. Hi there. Yes, I know about those days of "clarity". I used to think I had control over them. You know, if I could give him a certain supplement or if I could counteract the pollen index or regulate his sleep in some manner. Learning to just let him "be" from one day to the next was perhaps the biggest step toward peace and progress in our older son (classically autistic) and our family.

    Good luck to you in this A to Z Challenge and with your family.

    Amy From the Mom Cave