Sunday, December 7, 2014

The Blame Game

As we pulled into A's former preschool for the Thanksgiving brunch, the car filled with silence and anxiety as the roar of the engine came to a halt. Suddenly my four year old baby boy cried out from the back seat..

"Mommy, please don't make me go in there! Please Mommy, I can't go in there."

Immediately my eyes filled with tears and my heart broke into a million pieces for this child whom I had sworn to protect and had somehow failed. 

Leading up to this point A had been experiencing some issues in school in regard to his behavior and was constantly being sent home. All that had gone through my mind at that point was 'boys will be boys' and boy was I wrong. 

One evening when I arrived at the school to pick up both of my boys from preschool, the director mentioned that she wanted to speak to me. I immediately got a headache. 

Before I could place my backside into the hard chair in her closet-like office, she barked "You need to put A on medication, he has ADHD."

WHOA! Wait a minute! My mind swirled and thoughts ran through my head at the speed of light. 
Was this lady a doctor? How dare she say that about my son? If she doesn't want to deal with children, she should find another line of work!

If I knew then, what I know now, I would have been better equipped to deal with the ignorance of this preschool director who claimed to have been a teacher and had a very successful business for over 20 years. Clearly, experience is not wisdom. 

On the road to my sons diagnosis, I would meet many people like the Preschool Director. Those who threw out labels without the slightest bit of factual information, or doubters who actually believed that I was the problem and the only issue my son had was lack of discipline.

I blamed all of these people as well as myself. 

I blamed the Preschool Director who probably meant well in her meeting with me, but her delivery didn't have a chance. I left that meeting angry and bitter and refused to look any further into the issue.

I blamed the people who told me I wasn't being a good enough parent so I chose not to have my son tested and ignored my motherly instinct opting for more discipline.

Most importantly, I blamed myself as I sat in the parking lot the morning of the Thanksgiving feast for the anxiety my son felt after having so many negative experiences in the building that lay before us because I refused to believe anything was wrong. 

By this time, I had mastered the blame game, and I had to realized there was no winner in this. I had to stop blaming others and most importantly myself. My son needed me and I had to put the blame aside to get us back on the right track. 

Sunday, November 23, 2014

So My Son Doesn't Like People...Neither Do I!

Figuring out how to begin this post has been difficult. 

Should I start by saying "I always knew A was different " or "People always made references to the differences in A as compared to my younger son."? While they both sound like the statements from a concerned parent, both statements would not be the entire truth. I honestly believed there was nothing wrong with my child because there was nothing wrong with me.

Let me repeat that.

I honestly believed there was nothing wrong with my child because there was nothing wrong with me.

If you ask any of the people closest to me, you will find that I have only a few close friends. As a habit I am skeptical of people, reserving my trust for those who prove they are worthy. I have always been a loner, despite growing up in a home with six other people. Most days, you could find me in my bedroom reading a book or surfing the internet. I enjoyed the company of others but I preferred my solitude. 

Because this is how I've always been, my initial reaction when I was told A was having issues with social development, was to say the least, unconvinced.

I was uncomfortable in certain social situations and preferred to be alone, that doesn't make me Autistic?! However, when I tried to explain this to the therapist who was initially involved in A's care, she shed some light on the situation. 

The primary difference between A and I was that I chose to limit my social interactions with people. Put me in a room with 50 people and I could effortlessly socialize, carry meaningful conversation and even make a few friends. Limiting my interactions was a choice I made as an adult, not a product of a disability. 

I think that sometimes as parents it is easy to compare the.actions of our children to our adult actions. I don't like people and I was perfectly fine, so why wasn't he? 

Through the process of educating myself on A's diagnosis, I learned that one of biggest misconceptions of those with Asperger's is that they do not like the company of others.

This is absolutely false. Autistic and aspbergian children and adults value friendships just as much as those without. They just have a more difficult time forging these relationships. In many cases, much like with my own son, one too many negative interactions, leads to low self esteem and a wariness during social interactions. 

I would love to hear your insight or opinion on this post, as well as some experiences you or your loved ones have had involving negative social interactions that have impacted you.

What are some strategies you use to encourage social development with your child?

Wednesday, November 19, 2014


Welcome to Unspoken Advocacy: The Blog.

First and foremost let me introduce myself.

My name is Vanessa and I am the proud mother of two handsome, rambunctious, and wildly entertaining young boys- one of which is Special Needs. I currently reside in Broward County, Florida and am West Indian by parentage.

When I intitially found out my son had several mental health disorders, like most parents in my situation, I was lost. I had no clue where to begin, who to talk to, how my life was going to change, how my family would be impacted - nothing. 

So I did what any new age mother would do- I wallowed (briefly) and then I googled. I was looking for something, anything that would give me the insight and support I didn't receive from a lot of my family and friends. In all honesty I did find some helpful resources and I also found a wealth of information that confused me further- but I persevered. Almost two years later, I'd read every book, spoke to every doctor, but I was missing one critical outlet. 

My vision for this blog is just that, an outlet. I wanted to create a place to share my own experiences and learn from the experiences of others, as well as share resources and information regarding the special education process. 

When its all said and done, if I can encourage, support, or educate just one person through this blog, it would have all been worth it.

I'm a Special Needs Mom...What's Your Superpower?

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

An Anticipated Gift With Unexpected Wrapping

Growing up, much like every other little girl I assume, I envisioned my life would be perfect in every aspect of the word. I would have a perfect husband (much like the Ken dolls I often played with), the perfect house with a picket fence, and perfect children. 

For countless hours, I would get lost in day dreams and act out what I thought my life would should be with my Barbie’s and dolls. More specifically, I wanted to be a mom. Because, naturally, moms could boss people around, could drive a shiny car, buy all the toys they wanted, and got to wear bright red lipstick. Right? Right…

Whenever my Cabbage Patch Doll would get a cold, I nursed her to health. If she got a boo-boo going down the slide at the park, I was right there with a band-aide and a kiss. I was the perfect mom to my perfect child and I couldn't wait to grow up.

Like so many of our childhood perceptions on life, I’d soon be faced with the harsh reality that is adulthood. It seemed as though everything on my grown-up to do list had gone completely wrong.
  • Perfect Husband? Currently Accepting Applications 
  • Perfect house with the picket fence. The city I live in does not approve of picket fences. 
  • Perfect Children? I’m sorry, come again?

That being said, I was happy with the life I had created out of the cards I’d been dealt and more importantly I was going to be a mom!

I wish I could say that I was excited, however, that would be a lie - at least in the beginning. After having to bury my premature twins just five months prior, excitement was nowhere to be found. In its place was fear, anxiety, and determination.

“When would you like to schedule the termination?” said the doctor who had clearly missed the class on bedside manner.

“I will not.” I replied, and walked out of her office, never to return
I've always wondered what it was like to enjoy a pregnancy - to shed tears of frustration when your pants no longer fit or the local grocery is out of double stuff mint Oreos. 

How I longed for such simple nuances.

Unfortunately, due to certain medical conditions, my pregnancy consisted of worries if my child would have a nose, or if the medication I was taking would allow his brain to fully form. Everything was high risk and waiting, and I was no good at waiting.

Towards the end of my pregnancy, I received news that the baby boy I had been carefully growing for the past seven months was perfectly normal and healthy. It was the greatest relief I have ever felt to this day. A little over a month later, I gave birth to a beautiful baby boy, who I will refer to on this blog as “A”.

I have yet to find an accurate description of the love a parent has for their child. Some describe it as “Love at first sight” or the “Purest Love”. The day I saw my son for the first time I completely and utterly fell head-over-heels in love with him, but most importantly I felt certainty. With the coming of this 5 lb 11 oz bundle of joy, came the certainty of life after tragedy, of joy after sadness, of faith over doctors opinion, and most importantly the certainty that miracles do happen.

Five years later, I've learned that my once healthy baby boy has Autism among other diagnosis. Regardless of a finding out my son was delayed, so much positive has come from it.

Let it be known as we begin our journey together that I have always been an advocate for the underdog. Not because the underdog is weak or misguided, but because the underdog has always been meant to win and is built with an innate drive and passion for success. It is fulfilling for me to see them rise out of the trenches or the bondage society places on them into a place of leadership and greatness.

My son was born an underdog and I have proudly watched him overcome every single obstacle that has come his way and I look forward to seeing him prove every naysayer wrong.

I look forward to sharing this journey with you, so that maybe you all can learn from A as I have, or even teach each other

I also look forward to reading your comments, emails, and becoming a community with you.

Best Wishes,