Friday, September 01, 2006

Building a Community

Yesterday I had five phone conversations with mothers of children who have autism. All but one of them have a child between 3 and 4 who has been diagnosed over the course of the last year. Interestingly, all of us also have younger children. Only one of them has been at this longer than I have and she was the one who was there for me, the one who has walked in my shoes. It felt good to talk to them. To listen. To cry a little; laugh a little.

I went to the public library yesterday and asked if they had a space available where we could all meet for an hour once a week, together with our children. There is a room that is normally used for story hour that is full of toys that would be just perfect.

"My son has autism," I began, "and so regular story hours and play times don't really work for us." Even though I've been at this more than a year now I still find it hard to get the first part of the sentence out without feeling the sting of tears threatening. But the librarian I spoke with was very kind and thought it was a wonderful idea. It turns out that her husband also does some music therapy at a local school for the deaf and blind. She thought he might be convinced to put something together for our kids.

So I called each of the mothers and asked them if they would be willing to come and build a little community with me. I need the support, but I also need to give a little. They were enthusiastic and welcomed the idea. Now I am just waiting to hear back from the library.

And, so I don't let this post conclude without a little bit about Oliver: he really is a monkey!! The past 4 days have been incredible. If he had suction cups on his feet he would literally climb the walls. I've been summoned to other rooms of the house by loud crashes only to find Oliver at the highest point around. The tops of closets, on top of the fridge, on top of book cases, on the desks. ... I've caught him trying to climb the window frames by standing on the back of the couch and gripping the top of the moulding or by standing on the bottom ledge and holding onto the top of the window looking for a toe hold. ... We had to leave K-Mart because I couldn't keep him from climbing the shelves. And everytime I haul him down from somewhere he says: "I want to climb!!! I want to climb!!!" I am frankly at my wits end. It is a little bit funny but I do recognize the danger as well. I'm not so worried about him falling as I am about him knocking something heavy on top of either himself or Sammy. And wouldn't you know that Sam has to try everything that Oliver does so the next thing you know I'm going to have two monkeys at the top of the closet!!


  1. Let us know what happens with the library group----what a great idea!

    Charlie had a period of climbing on any and everything about two years ago. Definitely the moulding of the windows; jumping off the top of the piano became a favorite sport (never off the fridge, though!). A Spiderboy!

  2. Good for you! I would love to have a group of real-life autism families to hang out with. It's great that you took the initiative!

  3. What a wonderful idea- a support group for moms with kids on the spectrum! I wish I knew of five families in my area- I would start one too. I hope it comes together for you and that the library agrees to let you use their space.

  4. aw, christine! i LOVE that you're doing this! i wish i lived closer; i'd come in a heart beat. even if the meeting was at 3 in the morning. xx

  5. How wonderful you're reaching out to other moms in your community. I've wished for the same, and you're inspiring me to do something about it. Oliver does sound like quite the monkey! I really am glad to read all that he is able to do now, it gives me hope.

  6. The library group sounds wonderful. I wish we lived closer so I could join. I don't really know of any autism mommies around here but I see autism magnets and license plates everywhere.

    That's so funny about the climing. C has been doing the exact same thing lately. I bought these great toy bins from Ikea that reach almost to the ceiling and he's been climing up them! He climbs onto the window ledges and unlocks the windows (very worrying). I just chalk it up to him being a boy. :)