Friday, August 27, 2010

The Thief of Understanding

Yesterday was a sad day. Exciting, for sure, but sad.

Exciting, because it was Winnie's last "Normal" full day at the Autism Intervention Centre. She starts kindergarten the week after next. She is VERY excited about it, as are the rest of us.

The sad thing about today is that for two of Winnie's ASW's, it was their last day with her. They were very sad to leave her. I can't blame them, they worked so hard with her and the changes in Winnie are amazing.

One of her workers has been with her since the beginning of her therapy and the other has been with her for just the summer. I am sad to know they will not be with Winnie any longer.

The extra sad thing was at the very end of the day. Her worker looked as though she was having a hard time saying goodbye. She shuffled her feet a bit and said bye a few times, she wished Winnie well at school and said that she had fun playing with her this summer. Winnie was her normal smiling self, she said bye like she was taught to and hopped into the car. The girl looked at me and shyly said "Do you think she understands... you know.. that I won't be with her again?"

I looked at her, a comforting smile on my face and replied honestly "No, unfortunately, I don't think she understands that you won't be here next time.."

Saddened, the girl said "Oh, well... I had fun with her, and it was so nice to meet you. Winnie has come so far.." and we continued to chat a few moments before she dragged herself away. I turned to Winnie, who had buckled herself in her carseat and was patiently awaiting the trip home, and said "WInnie, Danielle is sad. " Winnie looked at me and sighed deeply "Yes." Comforted by that response, I said "Do you know why she is sad?". Winnie looked curiously at me and replied "Yes." I thought to myself, oh, well good, maybe I underestimated her and asked "Why is she sad?". Winnie scrunched up her face and thought for a moment, then it was as though she thought "I don't know what to say, but I know she wants me to say something..." and out came "Look at this momma!" and shoved the toy she had in her hand in my face. I tried to ask the question again, but got the same response. I gave up, thanked Winnie for showing me her toy and climbed into the car to start the trek home.

When I got home, I told Scott what had happened, and as I was telling him I came to the thought - I can't actually tell.. I can't tell if she didn't understand, or if she just wasn't able to tell me. In either case, it broke my heart.

While no one likes for their children to feel sadness, the ability to feel sadness in an appropriate situation is something that we don't miss until its not there. If she understood what was happening, but just wasn't able to express that she understood, that is sad in itself. Everyone wants to be able to share their thoughts and feelings with others, even if they choose to keep it inside, they have that choice. Winnie, right now, may not have that choice.

For a Mom who wants to give her kids everything, and afford them every opportunity, my battle with Autism and the things that its sneaking from my children continues. Take a moment, breathe, this too shall pass.

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