I ran into an old friend today at my gym. I almost didn’t go, but it was raining, and I needed some kind of exercise. I’m so glad I went. This is someone with whom I’d had a falling out, but I found when I saw her, that had disappeared and I only loved her once again. A (Jewish) New Year’s gift to me.
She gave me an idea, which is that there ought to be autism parent mentors, a whole international network of them. When your child is diagnosed, your doctor could hand you a packet of info — all the stuff you need at that awful moment — and in it could be the website for AutismMentor. (Wow. I am so old, I still think in terms of my doctor handing me a paper packet, rather than just googling autism…)
Your autism mentor would be a seasoned parent. Not necessarily an old parent; someone who is tempered steel, new or lovingly but heavily handled over the years. The requirements would be that this parent would have reached the phase of Acceptance; that he or she would have gone through several IEPs, and ideally would be at least a teenager. You would get to pick from a range of experiences, places on the Spectrum, gender.
The way it would work is that as soon as a parent can draw a deep breath, look beyond their present turmoil, and maybe smile, they can sign up to be an autism mentor. If they have realized fairly consistently that crises do pass, that their child will grow and develop but not necessarily according to The Book (how I used to hate that book, you know, the one that shows you the one way a child develops, and only mentions autism omce in the index, under “signs of trouble”), and most of all, if they enjoy their autistic child, they are qualified to be autism mentors.
Anyone know if the domain name is free? Seize it. Do it. It would be a huge mitzvah to the next generation of us, a brilliant start to to the New Year.