Tuesday, May 15, 2012

The ONEs

I've avoided this topic from every angle, simply because there's not an answer for it.  There's no simple answer, there's really nothing to be learned from it that I can currently see other than one of those lessons I've already learned over and over, and that's simply that sometimes you have to "suck it up, cupcake" and keep on going.

Then, after a conversation with Ryan's therapist last week, I realized that maybe someone will stumble upon our need, and maybe that someone or someone they know will hear of our situation and that will help them make up their mind to go into behavioral therapy, ABA, speech pathology, occupational therapy, physical therapy, music therapy, art therapy, or something similar.  Just like one blog can't change the world but it might change one person's mind even a bit, even one more person to work with kids like Ryan would be awesome.

After all, it's one therapist at a time who has made a huge difference in our lives.

It was ONE therapist who told us that Ryan's still Ryan, no matter what they label him.

It was ONE therapist who told us that we should see that label as a ticket to the services we need to help him.

It was ONE therapist who got him to accept "no" without melting down for an entire day.

It was ONE therapist, not two, who taught me how to social story.

It was ONE teacher who taught me how to picture schedule.

It was ONE therapist who taught me how to help him learn to hold a crayon.

It was ONE therapist who taught me to do joint compressions, massage, that kind of thing to help Ryan calm.

It was ONE therapist who taught me that Ryan liked that, and what proprioceptive input was.

It was ONE therapist who told me what sensory issues are about, and helped me see that Ryan is a sensory-seeker.

It was ONE therapist at a time who encouraged me, telling me that it's okay to be frustrated.  They also told me it's okay to be scared and unsure of how to deal with my son.

I could go on and on about the things these ONEs at a time have done for Ryan, and for our family.  I could brag and brag on these people, and how they were just doing their jobs, but that "just" has made our lives better.

That conversation with Ryan's current ABA therapist, who is a student seeking her certification,  is moving relatively soon with her soon to be husband to the northeast.  He is seeking a PhD in his field, and has a ton more school to go, so she's looking for employment as an ABA therapist.  In searching the listings for where they're going, a place much smaller than Texas, she said that there is page after page after page of listings for ABA therapists currently practicing in that state.  But for Waco and the surrounding counties?

Four.  After B graduates.

Not pages, therapists.  For counties worth of kids.

And when our dear B leaves for the northeast, there will be three.

Ryan doing his new favorite thing... swinging.
This knowledge prompted several feelings.  Desperation that constantly lurks at the surface rose to my throat.  A little panic.  Validation for those feelings... those very real, yet fought, crammed down to a size where I can handle them, feelings.  I vented a little to her, trying to not unload on this sweet twenty something who has such a big heart and has done so much for Ryan.  But I remembered how blessed we truly are to have any therapy at all when she reminded me that there is a waiting list for the BARC.  And I remembered how much a certified, through with school ABA therapist costs, and remembered the need to be grateful for what we've been given, what we have... because when it comes right down to it, we are blessed and cared for.  We have to remember what drives our life and gives us our peace, joy, and purpose, and it isn't readily available ABA therapy.

So we have both feet firmly planted in gratefulness for what we have, hearts grounded in the knowledge that we are held in something bigger than autism itself, but our ears are tuned to the hunger to know our son better and help him more, and our eyes are peeled to opportunities to improve the amounts of and ways we receive knowledge to help Ryan.

All part of the balance for us, the tightrope walk that is life, the need for grace and gratefulness balanced with the quest to remind the world that we are here.

We're not the only ones.

There are so many kids out there who need people to work with them, parents who need someone to help them learn to their kids.  If you love kids like Ryan and want to make a difference... if it's time to choose a major or a career path... or if you're choosing between this and something else... we need more of you.  It's not easy, but nothing is... and these kids are amazing.  The study of behavior is pretty fascinating.  And for the rest of you?  Pray that more of these people rise to the occasion.  There are too many awesome kids like Ryan who need someone to help them have a better chance by being ready to teach their parents.

I don't know what the answer is, and that's why I've avoided this topic for so long.  I'm not even terribly sure what the question is in a way that is answerable.  But maybe I can inspire someone to be the answer to someone else's need... and if that were to happen, this clunky, rambling post was worth it.

Because there's someone else out there who hasn't yet met their ONEs.

Thanks be to God for His providence!

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