March 2nd, 2011

Back in the Saddle Again

Becca Sanders

Some of you may have noticed that I haven’t written a Momicillin column for awhile. I took a few months off because I lost my sense of humor and needed some time to find it. After trying fruitlessly to track down the elusive little scamp for some time, I finally decided I would just give up the search. Like a stray cat that I occasionally fed by the back door, it would come back if – and when – it wanted to.

And it’s back. I’ve seen it skulking around the yard lately – enjoying the feeling of spring in the air and the almost child-like hopefulness that brings. I’ve even managed to coax it into the house once in awhile. But I must tread carefully, not make any sudden movements or raise my voice else I scare it back into the woods.

All of this metaphorizing (new word!) is meant to communicate something, and that something is: sometimes life isn’t funny.

Or, more accurately, sometimes I lose my ability to see the humor in it.

This fall and winter, our son H. went through an extensive round of assessments by the school system, designed to see where his development is in various categories and to help us plan for the future. Though he is nearly eight years old, his development in almost all areas falls into the toddler range. His spoken language is less than that, his understanding a bit more. The IQ test of sorts used on non-verbal kids like H. places him in the “severe to profound” range of cognitive disability.

Hence he received a new label for educational purposes. He’s no longer just autistic, but “Severely Multiply Impaired.” Or SMIle, as I like to call it. (See? The humor is back — a bit.)

None of this was surprising. These were “known knowns” for us, yet it is a bit sobering  to read such things as, “below the first percentile” and “three standard deviations below the mean” and know that they are describing our son. On the positive side of this, the report does accurately reflect how much help he needs, and it will help us secure services for him.

It’s difficult to find humor in all of this, though in times of extreme anxiety, I often crack jokes in order to stave off the worst of it. I’m sure what I say in these moments would sound appallingly crass to people on the outside. This dark commentary I share only with my husband, J., my partner in gallows humor (and all other kinds, too).

Though I can’t promise to be amusing when writing about my son, I’m glad to be back writing for Momicillin. Life is messy, chaotic, joyful, and sad. I’ll let my writing reflect that.

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Any kid will tell you, there’s nothing worse than cold snow creeping in between your mittens and coat, sending an icy chill right through all the veins in your wrist! But it ALWAYS happens. Solution? Take an old adult sock and put a hole in it for the thumb. Then put it under your child’s coat and mittens. Voila! Just the barrier you need.