Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Too Much of a Good Thing?

It's Wednesday, which I only remember because today was Autism Social Skills group--or do I remember that Social Skills group is today because it's Wednesday? The chicken and the egg are often confused these days....

Ben emerged from group today with a green left hand, from wrist to fingertips.  Green and glittered, with a feather glued thickly to the center of his palm. He claimed it was his Epic Zombie Mini-Sword hand. In response, I raised my eyebrows momentarily, sighed, and shook my head while wondering whether all that green paint would come off his hand, shirt, and jeans when we got home...or whether it might instead be smeared all over the leather seats of the Suburban ere we ever got out of the parking lot.

Before my Zombie-handed autistic child bounded out of the group play room, I had just been discussing summer plans with a couple of the other moms.  The options for therapeutic interventions are apparently limitless:  Therapeutic horseback riding, social skills, functional skills, adaptive sports, ABA therapy groups...not to mention the "usual" summer things like swimming lessons, sports, and music.  A few of the moms are doing many--most--of these things: Something (or some things--plural) every day.

Here's what I want to do this summer:  nothing. I am tired. Just dragging Ben through the school year with its attendant challenges of homework, behavioral programs, IEP meetings, horseback riding, and social skills group, has been exhausting.  I gave up on Cub Scouts months ago. Ben doesn't want to go anywhere, ever. If he could ensconce himself in the computer room 24-hours a day without ever speaking to another soul, he'd be happy. Nevertheless, all year long, in the name of looking out for Ben's best interests, I have waged the daily battles to get him out the door.

I don't know if I can muster enough energy to do it all summer long, too.

But one of the other moms I was talking to this afternoon said, "I just feel guilty about not signing [her child] up for as many programs as I can. I mean, I have to do everything I can to help him, right?"

Right.  Yes.  Leave no stone unturned. Make hay while the sun shines.  Grab the tiger by the tail. Stand and deliver. Scooby-Dooby-Doo, where are you? (Yeah...that one doesn't work here, but I was on a roll...)

But this seems like a fair question: how much is enough? Is there such a thing as "too much" of a good thing?

I am not taking the boys to horseback riding this summer. That was decided the moment I suggested to Ben that I was thinking about not doing horseback riding this summer. Expressing my thought process to Ben is apparently the moral equivalent of making a promise.

I'm leaning toward the functional skills group, where the kids will purportedly be taught such things as folding and putting away clothing, making a sandwich, crossing a street safely, and vacuuming. I'll fight the battle to get Ben out the door for skills like that.

But maybe that's enough, huh? Just one thing? I might throw some swimming lessons in there, or maybe not.  I just peeked into a few bedrooms in the house, and it turns out I have three other kids who also have some plans for the summer. They might hope that mom is around once in a while to drive the taxi, make a few lunches, and apply sunscreen.

When we get to the end of time, will I look back on this summer and think, "If only I had taken Ben to a few more groups, would he have lived a better life?" I just don't know.

Maybe the Epic-Zombie-Mini-Sword hand has magical future-predicting powers.  Before we wash off the green and glitter, I may request a reading. Go out on a limb. Carpe Diem. Insert other relevant idiom here.


  1. As always I love your posts. Will Ben look back on his life and say " My Mom should have done more?" I think that the Functional Skills Group is a great opportunity for him. Swimming? A good way to stay cool, and a good safety measure. You can only give what you have, you do the best you can. You are right about the other kids, balance is important to them. You also have to have balance for you. Is adding other activities really worth the contention and stress it may bring on? Or should I say necessary? Ben has a great life! He has an amazing family. Don't cause yourself undo stress. You need to do what's best all the way around the board. If that means having a more mild summer, than go for it. As Mothers we burn a candle at both ends. Blow one out! Ben has everything he needs! You are an amazing Mother! Lv ya!

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