Just Who Is This DC That You Speak Of ? – One Year Anniversary

Happy Anniversary

Happy Anniversary

It has now been full year since I began writing this blog. Over the course of this year, a few friends have asked, among other things, why I call my son “DC”.
DC is not my son’s name. This is confusing to my friends because I do post this blog on my personal face book page. Obviously my friends on my personal page know my son’s name, they know our last name, they even know where we live. BUT because this blog is public, and is shared on a number of accounts and networks via WordPress (not via my personal page), I do not use his real name, our last name or our location.

My personal face book page is set for “friends only”. Nothing I write about is anything that my friends don’t know or haven’t heard about DC. I am very proud of my child, as I am sure my friends are very aware of. 😃

As for my other accounts; they are set all up using my first name only, no location. I am sure if one tried hard enough, they may possibly be able to figure out what state we live in, but really not much else.

My Instagram account is not only first name and no location, but it is also private. 95% of my followers and the people I follow there are other autism parents and CharityMiles friends. Quite honestly, they are all wonderful people and I really would not have much of a problem divulging our location or last name to most of them. A few do know Dc’s name and that is fine with me. There I see compassion, camaraderie and the support of each other, that I really don’t see anywhere else. We all seem to have different opinions, but we all seem to embrace our differences instead of attacking each other.

Another question that I am asked every so often is why I write a blog.

I never really intended to write a blog. My blogging began one day when I was writing an extremely long response to a blog post that I had just finished reading. After I hit “post” I decided that writing a response to this post on someone else’s blog was not going to make me feel better about the topic being discussed. I opened an account with a local on-line news publication and pasted the response I had just written onto a blog page and published. After a month or so and only a couple of posts; finding the local publication blog not-so-very user-friendly, and because it was local, I felt I could not share it anywhere else and still remain somewhat anonymous,  I moved to Word Press. I was so worried that I would never have enough to say to sustain a blog, but I went for it anyway. It turns out that I do have a lot to say. I don’t know how many people care to hear what I have to say, but I say it anyway.

Originally, I did not even post the blog on my personal Face Book page, only on my “community page”. Before posting it there, I went through 3 years of posts on the community page and it’s accompanying website , deleting anything that could be considered too “local” of a story.  I wanted to be sure that our location was not too apparent AND that the names and locations of the people featured in these now deleted local stories were also not on display.

(I have just discovered that there is a way to post local news and events on that community page to a specific audience, so I can begin posting local events and news again.)

I did begin posting the blog to my own page at the urging of a friend. No, I am not naïve enough to think that private postings or ‘friend only’ postings are really 100% private, but I have taken all of the precautions I feel that I can and I am always looking for others.  I will continue to call my son, DC and write about “a local theater”, a “local college”, a “local baseball league” or a “local ice cream shop”.

I read many blogs as well. Many of the blogs that I do come across are written by parents of younger children. Most are wonderful and very informative. There are many that I absolutely love,  but I always feel that the parents of adult children do not get to have an equal voice in this community. We are cast aside, or worse, berated. I am not in any way saying my blog is the voice of parents with adult children, I don’t think there are enough people that actually read it, in the first place, to even consider that, but I am ONE voice and ONE opinion in a sea of blogs and opinions that do not seem to make room for the parents that have been at it  for many years now.

I was very tired of being preached at by those who have not reached this point in their child’s life and constantly being told how to feel. I understand where they are coming from and in turn I believe they can or should try to understand where I am coming from. Whatever else you might have to say about me, I  have done a good job of raising DC.  Of course there was help along the way but as a single mother going on 21 years now, most of it fell to me alone.  I truly resent the fact that we, as parents are being made to feel as if after all these years,  we’ve got it all wrong.

I’m hoping a little insight into what comes after “school age” may go a long way in getting people to stop and think before making blanket decisions, accusations and statements that may not affect their child the same way it will affect mine (more about this at another time). There has got to be some give and take. Everything is not good for everybody.

Having said that, I have learned quite a bit from other parents by virtue of this blog. I don’t always agree with every opinion and my readers, I’m sure, do not always agree with me, but I truly believe writing this blog and getting some of the feedback has helped me see some issues a bit differently or at least why some parents see things the way they do. I can only hope I can and will be afforded the same courtesy; and so far I have.

Life tends to be very different when your child “ages out”of the school system and at other times, it is exactly the same. When you are waist deep in school, therapies, programs and IEPs, what happens after 21 is not high on your priority list. Of course it is a priority and of course it is in the back of your mind but, the here and now takes precedence. There are so many new and different issues to consider, and it all comes to hit you in the face much faster than you expect. Your views and opinions can change dramatically from what you hoped for when they were young and what you hope for now. Your life changes drastically, while not changing at all.

In an earlier blog I wrote:

“If I were to live forever, I would not change a thing about my son. He’s happy almost all of the time. He loves his life. He is in his own little happy world, but he won’t always be able to live in his own world, he will someday have to live in the real world. Then what?”

He will, someday have to live in the real world without me.

So I will keep writing with the hope that a few people might read and think a little bit about the future. I would never say that spreading awareness is not a good idea, it IS definitely necessary, but…..

all of the awareness in the world is not going to keep DC safe and happy when I am no longer here to protect him…..



Sometimes “I told you so” is just good for the soul

DC in Uniform - Challengers Baseball

DC in Uniform – Challengers Baseball

DC played baseball with the *Challengers League from the time he was 5 until he aged out last year at 21.

The “official” Challengers field in town is located in front of the school he attended for Birth to 3, Early Intervention and Kindergarten. Needless to say he was in this building and with many of the same teachers for a good 4 or 5 years.

I’ve had my battles with the school system over the years, but none so on-going as the need for speech therapy. This battle began in Early Intervention and continued on straight into High School.

Sign Language, I believed was absolutely necessary, thanks to my sister in-law, Lisa who convinced me that sign would not prevent him from speaking if he had the capability to eventually speak. It might lessen his frustration level at not being able to communicate (it did). But sign was not, in my mind ‘Speech Therapy” and should not be considered as part of the Speech Therapy hours listed in his IEP.  Speech Therapy in a group setting also should not be counted as his speech therapy. Yes, he did need to learn to be able to focus in a group setting, but focusing in a group setting is not speech therapy, it is learning to focus in a group setting.

I can’t tell you how many of these teachers told me he would never speak. One speech therapist, Barbara, actually told me that I was obsessed with DC speaking and “You know, if he isn’t talking by now, he probably isn’t going to”. He was 5 at the time.

They went so far as to schedule and pay for an evaluation at a well known Medical Center to have him evaluated for a **“Talking Board”. I went to this evaluation, never intending for him to use a Talking Board, but to use the evaluation as proof he was capable of speech. As it turns out, this is exactly what the Doctor doing the evaluating said; he did not recommend the Talking Board and noted this in his report.

I didn’t give up on my battle with the school system, but I also didn’t want to waste any more time getting him the speech therapy he needed, I went out and got other speech evaluations and hired a private speech therapist.  Liza was wonderful and made a great deal of progress with him. She was with him for many years.  Armed with the evaluations and his progress, I was finally able to prove this to school system – Quite the Catch 22, he had to speak before they would agree to one on one speech therapy! Unfortunately it took a few years to get to this point with them; years that would have been wasted if he were not receiving the private speech therapy.

But back to baseball…….

Our league used a PA system and we always had a volunteer to announce the games.  Each game was opened with the Pledge of Allegiance.

When I was President of the league, I decided that every player should have a chance to be in the spotlight. Each week two players were assigned as team captains and another player was assigned to do whatever they were capable of doing on the microphone.

Some led the pledge; some sang a patriotic song or just yelled “Play Ball!”  If they were not verbal, they stood at attention at the Flag or threw out the first pitch.

Our games were played on Saturday mornings and Wednesday evenings. DC was about 10 years old and on this particular Wednesday when he was scheduled to be in the spotlight. Coincidently all of the teachers from the Early Intervention Program had been attending a meeting at the school after hours and decided to come down to watch the game before heading home. Most of the players had been their students at one time or another.

Many of them had not seen DC in about 4 years.  Just imagine the feeling I had to see DC to go to the mic and sing “America the Beautiful” as clear as a bell with all of those “professionals” who years earlier told me he would never speak, sitting right there in the stands! I could not have PLANNED this if I tried!

Sometimes an “I told you so” is just good for the soul, even if you don’t have to

actually say it out loud.

*Challengers Baseball is a division of Little League for children with physical and intellectual disabilities

**”Talking Board” I don’t know what they might be called these days, but that is what they were called back in the 90’s.

A VERSION OF THIS POST WAS PUBLISHED ON THE MIGHTY – “They Told Me He’d Never Speak. Then They Heard Him Sing”