Birthday Reflections

For those of you who have been reading my blog over the last several years, you know that I tend to write a reflections type post near my birthday…..what I have learned, where I would like to go, etc.  This year I have hit a numeric milestone (as many consider multiples of 5 “milestones”).  Additionally, my birthday happened to fall the day before Yom Kippor when, as a Jew, my designated time of reflection is coming to an end.  So I thought I would put some of my recognitions on my blog, making them public and making them more concrete.


I am now 45 years old.  I am a happily married wife, mother of 3 amazing kids, have a frustratingly annoying but incredibly lovable dog, I live in an area where I feel happy and safe in a home I own with my family… really is good.  I have the freedom to do much of what I want and explore endless possibilities.  I smile and am happy most days, worry about my children nearly every day, and look forward to the new adventures of tomorrow.  I spend too much time sitting around and doing nothing productive and try to find ways to avoid doing the things that I know must be done (like almost everyone I know).


I think the biggest thing I need to work on while I’m 45 is to find my organization again.  I know I’ve been saying that for a while, but this time I really mean it (again).  My house needs some serious work, both in terms of cleanliness and repair.  There are some major household projects that we would like to take on, but we feel we can’t until we get some other things under control.  We are planning a big trip to Mexico in about 5 months and we need to plan how to help Simon maneuver new experiences so he (and the rest of us) can enjoy the adventures.


What does that mean?  It means living by the calendar.  It means making my infamous detailed to-do lists again.  It means keeping my promises to myself and to others.  It means making more of an effort to be there for others.  It means knowing when it’s time to say “No” when asked to be a volunteer for something or knowing that this is my opportunity to jump in with both feet.  It means not feeling guilty when I know I’ve done my best, even if I have not been successful on the outside.  It means recognizing that the effort is always worth at least as much as the result.  It means setting realistic expectations.  It means recognizing when my “realistic” expectations are anything but realistic.


Most important, it means taking time.  Taking time to be a better mother…..a better wife…..a better friend……a better Jew……a better person……a better me.


And that’s exactly what I’m going to try to do!


Steadily Climbing……..

My mind has been reeling for the last 24 hours or so…..since the latest numbers have come out regarding the prevalence of Autism in this country.  Now they are saying that one in FIFTY school-age children are on the spectrum.  Let’s look at this another way.

  • In 1995, the rate was 1 in 500.
  • In 2001, it had increased to 1 in 250.
  • In 2004, it had risen again to 1 in 166.
  • In 2007, there was yet ANOTHER increase to 1 in 150.
  • In 2009 (when our journey began), it was 1 in 110.
  • In 2012, the shocking news was announced that it was now 1 in 88.
  • Yesterday (2013), the newest announcement is that 1 in 50 school-age children are on the spectrum.
There are a few things about this latest study that has me doubting these numbers (at least the ones that were just announced).  The survey that this statistic is based had a very poor response rate.  It was also answered by parents as opposed to medical professionals.  I’m not saying that parent reports cannot be trusted.  However, it is more likely that parents of children on the spectrum would respond to this type of survey because (1) they want answers and (2) they want to share information, especially if they think that it may (in time) help their own children.  In other words, if you were to call 100 parents to ask them questions about Autism and 90 said they couldn’t talk to you, the remaining 10 are more likely to have children on the spectrum (or suspected as being on the spectrum) compared to the remaining 90 who wouldn’t take the time.
There are flaws in the other direction about the survey that estimated 1 in 88 children were being diagnosed with an Autism Spectrum Disorder.  In that study, they only surveyed a small portion of the country (14 states).  There were so many areas that were missed and not accounted for in those results.
I can honestly say that I don’t believe that the true number is 1 in 50.  But I also believe that the 1 in 88 is an underestimate.  The true answer is probably somewhere between the two.  Maybe 1 in 75 (my own blind guess — please don’t assume there is any validation behind this number), which is still appalling.
But there is one thing that cannot be denied, with several consequences.  The numbers are going up, not down.  The need for services is growing, not shrinking.  These children will grow up and become adults with an Autism Spectrum Disorder diagnosis who may require additional services to allow them to live independently or, if that isn’t possible, for them to be productive members of society and to be cared for.  They can’t be swept under the table.  They need their voices to be heard, even if they are unable to use their voices directly.  We cannot ignore this problem.  And we can’t allow others to ignore the problem.  We need to speak up and out for our kids.  We need to be sure that as these children grow, they will have the supports they need so that they can contribute in whatever way suits them.
These are individuals.  They are people.  And they have a stumbling block to overcome.
We need to be sure that they are given all of the tools they need so that they can succeed.