Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Have you judged or been judged?

As you may already know, Stuart Duncan is one of my favorite bloggers. Yesterday I read his latest posting, “We ask to not be judged and yet…” He wrote there were mixed opinions to a true story about a mother who left her severely autistic son at a local hospital without notice because she could no longer care for him. There are more details to the story, too; but I ask that you take the time read his posting so that you may understand a little of what I will write.


I started writing this post yesterday with two points of view as they apply to Puppy and me. However, since I had a break in between, I lost my train of thought. But let me try and I just hope that I can go back to my original thoughts.

Some people might say I’m one of the lucky ones (in terms of being a parent of an autistic child), because Puppy is high-functioning under the spectrum disorder umbrella with PDD-NOS.

Puppy will be thirteen years old this week and has a comprehension level of a four year old. I have set goals for us, some realistic and some just to keep ME trying harder.

The story about the mother abandoning her son touched a nerve. I would be untruthful if I said that I didn’t feel anger towards the mother in that story for leaving her son. This was my first reaction when I read the story. But as I continued I understood there was much pain that went along with her decision. My reality would be that the anger was meant for someone else. Puppy’s birth parents acted in a similar manner nine years ago.

I do not know what Puppy’s life was like before he came to live with me at the age of almost 4 years. I don’t know if he cried day and night, or had tantrums, or was non-responsive to others, etc. I don’t know the activities that went on in their house nor how Puppy was cared for. As I came to spend time with Puppy, I slowly learned he was non-verbal, not potty-trained, cried without purpose, barely walked and was self-injurious.

I do know that his birth mother was divorced without a job and living with five children ranging from 17 to 3 years old. I do not know the reason she chose to ask his birth father to take him away. She basically gave away Puppy, and since has accepted the consequences. She lost her son.

I do know that his father could not care for him alone because he worked as an OTR truck driver. However, his father was and still is in a very different place. He is in denial that Puppy has autism and repeatedly says, “He’ll catch up soon, he just needs a good teacher.”

I should not judge his birth mother or father. She understands that her choice cannot be undone. He has also chosen to disconnect himself from Puppy. A phone call now and then from another city probably makes him feel he still has a son. Even to me this sounds like I’m judging, but it’s really just the anger talking.

On the other hand, I am definitely being judged by them. I remember when Puppy was five years old and his birth mother called to talk to him. The conversation was brief because of his limitations and short attention span at that time. Within minutes I received a call back from Puppy’s father. He started to question me about Puppy’s daily routines. I didn’t understand why at the time. I was being judged! Neither one understood why “their son” wasn’t speaking yet. I had already enrolled Puppy into public school because his daycare had advised me he was slow, non-verbal and might get some help from speech therapy and actual class time. I acted on it immediately. There was no diagnosis until Puppy was eight years old.

There have been many more events throughout the years that have suggested I am not their best choice for Puppy. I have learned to ignore and save my judgment for deciding what is in the best interest of my son, Puppy.

Yep, it is nine years later. I am still being judged.

What do I think about this? I’m one of the lucky ones, remember? I have Puppy!!