July 1, 2010

Guest Blogger Thursday

Posted in Fun Stuff tagged , , at 6:31 am by autismmommytherapist

Through my Tuesday and Thursday posts I’d like to provide a more widespread forum for parents, family members, and practitioners of children with disabilities to provide practical tips for parents, as well as a place to share their views on raising a child with a disability. These contributions will be their ideas and stories, and not necessarily reflect the sentiments of those of autismmommytherapist

Today’s guest blogger is my mom, Susan Preston.  Welcome!

“The Best Job Ever!!!

In May, 2003, I began the most rewarding job ever—that of grandmother. Being a mom to two great kids of my own through the years was super indeed. My mother had always told me that being a grandmother was exceptional, and like so many things in life, she was correct!  We had waited and prayed for this day for several years, and months before Justin arrived, my heart was full of love and plans were being made for a glorious new relationship. I dreamed of stories being read, lullabies being sung, cookies being baked, family get-togethers that now would include a great-grandchild, and hugs/kisses galore. And the moment I laid eyes on him, a bond was created that is like no other in intensity. I am not sure which of us lights up more when we see each other–it truly is a toss-up!

I first grew concerned about Justin’s development when he stayed with me for a week around ten months of age. I noticed that he paid particular attention to lighted  and spinning objects, and that indeed, when the ceiling fan was on in my kitchen he was more attentive to his meals. I filed that away with some concern, but knowing about developmental milestones, I kept it to myself. It wasn’t until we had a short visit at thirteen months of age that I truly became concerned at the new behaviors that I observed. I made an excruciating decision to discuss these worries with my daughter. Kim voiced her own concerns, and before I could choke out the dreaded and feared “autism” word, she did.

There is no easy or painless manner to deal with this diagnosis. I do not know which is worse–exploring what that could mean for the first time as a parent/grandparent, or having the experience and knowledge of the impact that this diagnosis will have. My career as a special education teacher and administrator provided me with an educators’ knowledge of autism and other developmental disabilities. I knew first hand the impact autism would have not only on Justin and the challenges he would face, but the emotional and financial impact on his parents as well. Throughout my career I observed families as they struggled to select the right educational programs, medical interventions, therapies, etc., all with the hope of a cure. As a grandparent the impact is a double one emotionally—not only does your heart ache and the ‘”worry gene”  kicks in big time for your grandchild—but this child’s parent is also your own child. No parent wants their child to experience such pain and turmoil.

Six years ago we began this journey with the goal of helping Justin become the best that he could be. With the birth of Zachary three years ago, and his subsequent diagnosis, the pain seemed almost unbearable for all of us. But our love for each other and those two boys has united this family with one purpose—Justin and Zachary will always know that they are loved, their successes will be celebrated, and we will attempt to make the correct choices to support them on their difficult and challenging journey.

And their successes are many. Justin is able to communicate his needs through intense looks, eye contact and his augmentative device. He is an absolute whiz with technology, and the family joke is that if we can’t figure out how to program a new device, give the remote to Justin!  And one of Zachary’s favorite expressions is “I need….”  which enables him to clearly articulate what that need might be. Zach freely showers us with loving words and appreciation. .

And as for my new Job—guess what?  I get to do all those things I dreamed of. I read stories, rock beautiful boys to sleep, sing lullabies, bake cookies, i.e. Gluten/casein free, and according to Zach, bake the best grandmom brownies ever!  And above all, I get tons of hugs, kisses and glows on faces when we see each other. We do all the activities together that I had hoped for—movies, amusement parks, aquariums, shopping, visit with family, and the beach–with some accommodations, of course. I attend school parties, see the joy on Justin’s face when he’s horseback riding (a particular favorite activity of mine), and experience tears of joy as Justin attempts to talk now. I am more certain then ever that one day he will be able to say my name, whatever that might sound like—and does that really matter as long as he and I know who he means?  With Zach all things are joyful. Zach enthusiastically tries everything there is to attempt in life, be it gymnastics, a new Thomas the Engine toy, a grandmom brownie, etc. And he is the kindest and compassionate three year old I have ever known—With other special needs kids he is so encouraging—“Come on, I know you can do it!” is an expression he uses when other kids are struggling in his gym class. How great is that?!!!! I do get to brag as a grandmother!!

And yes, this new Job is a bit more complex than anticipated and has required me to learn new skills. If Justin could share this information he would tell you that grandmom never could deliver that one-on-one program with any speed—truly, I think it was recording the data that was the hang-up at my age!!  And baking/cooking was a skill that had gone by the wayside during my busy working years. Now learning how to adapt recipes and bake goodies that are healthy for them are fun. The joy, love, pride and experiences that I have with my two incredible grandsons are exactly what I had hoped for. I celebrate each of their accomplishments and have learned to take “One day at a time”. I thank God that I have been given the gift of these two boys. Like I said—BEST JOB EVER!!!!!.

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6 Comments »

  1. Lorraine Asciutto said,

    Love this, as a grandmother it is so wonderful to know that there are grand moms out there who love being called that name. Having a grandson that is hard-of-hearing, I loved this article, it is our job to love them all, unconditionally, and I know for a fact that Susan Preston is the best I have ever known at that. Thanks

  2. Dennis Russell said,

    Justin, Zachary, and their parents are fortunate to have a grandmom who is filled with boundless love as well as the skills of a Mama Grizzly that can be brought to Bear on an unresponsive educational system.

    Other families should find inspiration as well as practical advice when they read the entries in your blog, Kim. Nice work!

    Dennis

  3. jess said,

    Thank God for the Grandmas (and Grandpas!) like you. You are an incredible gift.


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