Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Jakob's Journal

Rough day today...can't stop thinking about Marcus. The thought of someone locking my Jakob in a closet for two days...these people are evil and the system is too flawed. It's that simple. Obviously, changes have to made and a whole lotta people need to learn more about autism. It ain't gonna be easy but it has to be done. How many more kids like Marcus are out there...completely misunderstood? I'm so sad...and horrified.

Marcus is the latest in a string of stories about children with autism who were being taken care of by adults who couldn't handle it. There was a mom in Illinois...a doctor...who suffocated her 3 or 4-year-old daughter. A mom jumping off a bridge with her son who had autism in the Northeaast somewhere. The details of the stories are blurry to me since I chose not to dwell on them. Too hard to imagine...too exhausting to try to comprehend. But I remember how the stories ended. They ended with biological moms murdering their children. It was never out of anger in the previous situations...it was despair. Despair over their children's challenges and how hard life was for them. They didn't lock their children in a closet because he was "misbehaving". But the end was the same...the people taking care of these children were unable to see the little miracles in their midst...the beauty and the joy inside a child with autism.

The Carrolls had no idea what they were getting into...nor did they care. They were in it for the money, that's obvious. It just frightens me that a child like Marcus could be placed with people like that. Poor little guy never even had a chance.

Autism is not easy to explain. It's even harder to understand. It takes years for parents to get a handle on it. Years...and endless research, hands-on trial and error, observation, therapists galore, doctors of all kinds, talking to other parents, more reading materials...and most importantly, a lot of love and patience. It would take a very special person to foster a child with autism. I can't leave Jakob for 2 hours with a babysitter who doesn't understand autism...I can't imagine him living with someone who doesn't know...

I wanna give Jakob a big hug right now but I can't...he's at his dad's. But I will have him tomorrow and we're gonna snuggle.

Jakob has become quite the snuggler. It's hard to believe he's the same kid that never even cared if I was in the same room. Now, if I try to tuck him in bed and leave, he pulls me into the bed. He likes to spoon...me in the back. The other night, I was laying with him and I thought he had fallen asleep. He had himself buried under the sheet and I thought for sure he was out. I gently got out of the bed and he popped up, threw the sheet off his head and with his eyes more than half-shut he reached for me and pulled me back in the bed. Moments like that are amazing...it's those kind of moments that let me know he loves me. I haven't always felt that.

In fact, just a couple nights before, I wasn't feeling it at all. Every once in awhile, Jakob will hit. I know how to prevent him from getting so frustrated that he hits, but this time, I didn't even see it coming. I honestly thought he dislocated my nose. Palm open...whack. Several times. I wasn't angry with him...I felt awful for him. I knew that he was frustrated, tired and just feeling helpless. He wanted me to know something, to understand him and I was trying but I wasn't figuring it out fast enough. I felt so bad for him. What really stinks in a situation like that is I have to leave him. When he's reached that point, there's not much I can do. I've learned that over the years. If I keep at it, the situation will just escalate and there's no reason to put either one of us through that. He has to work it out on his own. He wasn't crying or screaming, there was no threat of him hurting himself so I told him he can't hit, I told him I loved him, gave him a kiss and tucked him in bed. The next morning, he woke up happy.

I'm sure the Carrolls would have handled the situation differently....................