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Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Sense of self.


One refrain I hear too often from parents whose children are newly diagnosed is that they aren't sure now who their children are.  They move around their child like he or she is a stranger in the home.  I am never certain if it's the power of the diagnosis that somehow interferes with a parent's viewpoint, or if somehow now the child is being perceived as sickly or different or Other.  I know that when Ellie was first diagnosed I kept thinking, how did I not see this?  why wasn't I more intuitive?  The brain tricks us, makes us see the atypical as mere eccentricity, the stereotypical as quirky.  We can't muster the idea that atypical is, in fact, atypical.  I also wonder if acknowledging the atypical in our children is too close to forcing us to acknowledge the atypical in ourselves.  I have caught myself numerous times being overwhelmed with auditory input and, in trying to quell the din of house, three children, and yowling cat marched into the living room to snap off Kai Lan with a brusque,"I can't listen to that anymore."  In those moments I know that that overstimulation is what Ellie deals with all the time.  I can't even imagine how the world must seem to her.  How does she cope?  How has she learned to manage it when no one can truly understand her highly peculiar and particularized needs?

Yet for all this, I see her in very clear moments, hers and mine, and I am so content.  This is the child I longed for.  This is the child I dreamed of.  What came with her was unexpected at best.  But she is no stranger.  She is her, and yet she is me.  We share that perfect tether of mother and child.  She'll show me who she will be in her own time.  Right now, she is just my fulfilled wish.  Wonderful.

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