I love my job!
I’ll say it again.
I LOVE MY JOB!
I was at training this past Saturday, and besides the fun and games, fantastic food that was catered, great music, and important information that was passed on, it couldn’t have been any better. Then they put a movie on for us.
It was a documentary entitled “Sounding the Alarm.”
Autism Speaks (an autism advocacy organization in the United States that sponsors autism research and conducts awareness and outreach activities aimed at families, governments, and the public.) made a documentary chronicling seven families, all affected by autism. Some of the kids range from extremely mild, all the way to extremely severe. But when it comes down to it, each of their stories will touch your heart. Or in my case, tear up your heart. I personally have a love/hate relationship with Autism Speaks, but that’s another conversation for another time.
So, I sat with my friends; still feeling giddy from the fun and games, and my 10 minute presentation that I gave, I thought went pretty well. 35 minutes into the movie (which is on Netflix, by the way), the giddiness started to disappear. I stopped smiling… and started crying.
I couldn’t stop the tears.
I tried, but I couldn’t stop.
Listening to parent testimonials, watching the kids struggle, listening about how one family had to uproot their entire lives, just to get their son ABA services, because their state didn’t approve it on their insurance, shook me to my core.
It would shake anyone to their core.
Another family was afraid to put their son in residential living, because the mother was afraid of what would happen to her son. The mother was afraid that her son would be abused, or drugged, or worse, tortured, and he wouldn’t be able to tell her what was happening to him. Her son was extremely violent, so her husband bought police riot gear to protect himself when his son was having a meltdown.
That moment was my breaking point.
I started sobbing uncontrollably, and I had to leave. Not the room… but the building. I sat in my car and cried and cried until my stomach hurt. I even pulled over while driving because I thought I was going to throw up.
I wasn’t just crying for myself and my little boy, but I was crying for all of the families in the documentary. For a brief moment while watching the movie, I saw myself sitting on the couch giving a testimonial. I saw myself wondering the same things that all of the other mothers and fathers were wondering about their children… and it was paralyzing.
It was too much for me to handle.
I watched as a few different doctors gave their reasonings on why autism has become such an epidemic, but really they’re all in the same boat. Nobody really knows what causes autism and why it’s on the rise. And of course that brought me back to three years ago when my son was first diagnosed. I kept blaming myself for stuff I did while pregnant, but after a while I realized how unreasonable it really was. I did everything I was supposed to do according to all of the flyers the doctors gave me and the studies that I read about online.
So was it really my doing? Of course not!
I really wanted to see the rest of the movie with my coworkers, but I just couldn’t bring myself to go back inside. All of the fears that those families had talked about, are the same fears that I have and think about, just about every day. I try not to let it get to me too much, but some days it’s just too powerful to not give into. Nobody knows what their children’s futures will be like, but we do know that intervention is the key.
I see Willy’s progress everyday, and that gives me hope. His tantrums are far and few between now, and he’s SO much more verbal now than he was four months ago. He’s learning how to handle himself in frustrating situations by using his words and not his hands, and that is a beautiful sight. Willy also has his dog to help him find and keep his calm. I watch their relationship grow stronger and stronger every day, and the peace of mind that I get from watching my son succeed a little more every day, gives me hope.
So now what?
Well, we could sit around and complain and say that nothing is being done in terms of finding a cure, but in reality, there are people working around-the-clock to help make finding a cure a reality. And there is plenty you can do if you’re looking to help. You could start by raising awareness in your community. Ask your congressman/woman if they are doing the same thing? Start a campaign to raise money for autism awareness, and find an organization to donate it to. Every little bit helps.
If you are interested in watching the documentary that I watched, you can find “Sounding the Alarm” on Netflix, Amazon, and Google Play. It’s extremely powerful in terms of it’s content, but maybe, just maybe another puzzle piece will fit together, and some of our questions will be answered.