People and programs such as: Barb (reading tutor/educational consultant/mentor/friend); Melissa and Jennifer (sitters extraordinaire); Bella, Audrina, Jonah, and the other kids who have embraced Katie; Nate (friend, muse, and occasional handyman); Open Mind School and its phenomenal staff; Leanne Crandall (RPM coach); Special Olympics; dear departed Hoofprints on the Heart Adaptive Riding Center; Son-Rise Equestrian Foundation; the amazing therapists at AST, including Brad and Juan who we still miss like crazy; the new team at ACES; Happy Talkers and School of Imagination; Ascend Rehab; Wendy Kleven and Suzzette Halvorson (our most recent SLPs who taught Katie the Zones of Regulation); the Exceptional Needs Network and Camp Arroyo; and the awesome staff at the Livermore Trader Joe’s, who always stop whatever they are doing to greet Katie and work on social skills. Not to mention my fellow autism moms, who keep me sane, plus teachers and school district staff we’ve met along the way.
Let’s not forget what I’ve come to think of as Katie’s Cheering Section: a group of friends, family, and therapists on Facebook who never fail to celebrate Katie’s achievements, no matter how small.
So many people, and most I never would have met if not for autism. These people keep me going on days when I just want to give up. In honor of them, I thought today I’d post a poem from my collection, Across An Aqueous Moon: Travels in Autism, that focuses on gratitude. (And no, the school district in question is not our home district.)
A REFLECTION ON GRATITUDE
The woman from the school tells me to be glad—
you talk. Other parents covet what I possess.
Brazen indignation burns as slow-witted shame
slithers down my darkened spine.
You talk—a bit—and I’m grateful, so terribly grateful,
for that small mercy, but is it wrong to thirst for more?
I want words bubbling over and spilling onto the floor,
filling me up, filling you up.
I want to know the contents of your skull the way I know
my garden, still finding blossoms I never realized I had.
I want what so many take for granted—a simple conversation,
a joke that falls flat, an argument over nothing.
Every time you say something new, I throw a party in my head
the next moment guilty remembering all you didn’t say,
all you struggle to express. I can’t reconcile these twin impulses—
half Mardi Gras, half somber wake—
yet life is sweeter when paired with the bitter.
Even when I grasp for more, I am graced with you.
What are you grateful for this week?
Until next time,