athena- deity of the ancient Greeks worshiped as the goddess of wisdom, fertility, the useful arts, and prudent warfare. At her birth she sprang forth fully armed from the head of her father, Zeus
blythe-The word blithe means "carefree." It's a lively, sophisticated little word that many associate with Noel Coward's Blithe Spirit -- a lively, sophisticated little play. The spelling Blythe wraps all those good vibes up into an elegant English surname. This is an uncommon and stylish name
how do i start a blog post recording athena blythe's autism diagnosis? how is autism such an integral part of me life? how in the world do i have TWO kids with autism?
athena blythe was diagnosed with autism this year. this diagnosis was much easier to obtain than reagan's diagnosis. we've had our concerns with athena blythe's development for a couple of years now but getting the autism ball rolling is often not easy. especially since, athena blythe's version of autism is so different that reagan's or what i've seen in most of the other people we know with autism. like they say, "if you know know person with autism, you know one person with autism". athena blythe has always been very precocious and very verbal and possesses an indomitable spirit but absolutely has other struggles in flexibility, impulse control, correct socialization.
i'm taking the "news", which isn't news at all, in stride. i cried but not from fear. i cried because of exhaustion. i know what it's like to raise a child with autism. despite the differences in manifestations between reagan and athena blythe, the hallmarks of autism interactions are the same. it's stressful. very. stressful. i think of myself as a security agent who has to scan and secure an area before we can proceed. each place we go i have to check for loud noises, dogs not on leashes, sirens, clocks flashing 12:00, people not following expected societal norms, to ensure that we can proceed without incident. this is rarely possible. reagan still feels inclined to shout, "where's my mom!" whenever i am more than 15 feet away from him at the public library. athena blythe has never met a baby that she believes does not need her intense scrutiny and inspection. she has left no ladder unclimbed and no bird's nest left unpoked. why us? why autism? why not?
despite all my worries for raising two future adults with autism, they are pretty spectacular individuals.
everyone knows and loves athena blythe. everyone. everywhere we go, people know her and have an anecdote about her antics and imagination. today, a pregnant lady at church pulled me aside and said that during primary athena blythe said, "i know where babies come from and that one is coming out of your VAGINA!" loud emphasis on vagina. she is too smart.
the hardest thing to do is to discipline her. it's like breaking a boulder with a spoon. the spoon gets more damage than the boulder. she often seems unaffected by time out and loss of privileges. she'd rather win than have dessert. she loves to build and create and use all materials to do so. she will trick the best of them, including me, into getting her way. i love this girl so much.
she insisted on sleeping on the floor on this miniature couch rather than sleeping on a real bed. it sounded terrible but she could not be deterred.
anything she sees on tv or a book she tries to recreate. we've made birdhouses and bird feeders and terrariums for lizards and chameleons that remain uncaught. she makes lists for baking and things she needs to find on a safari. she is best at sneaking away from responsibility. she is a terrible liar. but she still tries. you can't stay mad at her for long.
one of her many science experiments.
the three big autism struggles for me are:
1. people who think all kids with autism have a special trick or talent. my dental hygienist asked me this week what reagan's "special talent is". she didn't mean to be ignorant, but these special kids don't all have parlor tricks and memory games to impress other people. they're nobody's entertainment.
2. people who act like kids with autism are a sign of weakness. things that are rewarded in society, thinking differently or being innovative, are often seen as habits to be fixed in autism. the problem is people who think there is only one way to be right or happy. it's akin to prosperity gospel, or the idea that faith is associated with financial success. does my having 2 children with autism mean i lack faith? hardly. if anything, my faith has only grown. but i encounter people who i feel pity from. no one is excited about having autism, but i pity people who don't see it as a blessing. a painful, messy, stressful blessing that has only shown me the nature and generosity of the Lord and His goodness.
3. inclusion looks a lot like an invitation. often, that's all that is needed. certain activities are impossible for our family to fully participate in. we need to leave early or have many accommodations made so that we can more involved. i realize how trying that can be for people trying to befriend us. we've had so many marvelous experiences with people reaching out to us. the extended invitations means the world, even if it is difficult for us to accept. some of reagan's best memories are simply based on inclusion. "mom, i had that BEST time" is often repeated at an activity where reagan hardly participated and ignored half the guests.
autism is not the worst. raisins in cookies, nuts in brownies, fruit in ice cream are way worse.