Susan's Blog

Friday, January 9, 2009

Don’t Borrow Trouble

I really think it’s okay not to deal with something until you are ready to. If it is not time to hear about that thing, then don’t.

I’m going to a Parent Advisory Board meeting at Nat’s school at the end of the month, for the first time in years. I was thinking about how maybe six years ago I attended a Parent Advisory Board meeting at Nat’s school, where I got an earful of stuff I was not ready to hear. I had gone to see what I could do about helping raise money for the school with an eye towards improving conditions for the teachers. At the time I was incensed about how fast the turnover was there; Nat would get a new teacher every 6 months, it seemed. This was the worst possible situation for Nat, who really likes stability, for the most part. My idea was to encourage the teachers there to unionize so that they could demand better pay. Coming from a family where my grandfathers were socialists and union organizers, and my parents were in teachers’ unions, I had always heard about the good side of unions, how they improve the conditions of the workers. I believed in unions and I still do. (This caused a very weird situation for me when I was suddenly Management, on the School Committee!)

Needless to say, my union ideas made most of the people at the meeting go blank. The fundraising they wanted to do was much more benign: to sell Yankee candles and give them to the teachers for a coffeemaker, that kind of thing. So be it. I dropped my pinko ways and focused on Nat again.

One thing that I heard there was about the residential conditions at the school. Wow, I did not want to hear that stuff. All I could think was, “Thank God Nat is living with me.” It’s not that I heard anything bad, only stuff like rapid staff turnover, too many staff people going in and out of the Houses, etc. But to me Going Residential was such a terrible step, I could not even bear to hear about kids who had. I could not imagine how parents made such a decision.

Well, now I am one of them. It happens. You get to a point where you can deal with the scary future because suddenly the scary future is NOW. And it now has a context. Like Nat, I need a context to fully understand something; I can’t just listen to random facts.

But when you are ready, you will know. Or you become ready, and you stand strong and you take it. Because you have to. Because you can. As my mother would say, “don’t borrow trouble, it will find you soon enough.”


You made me laugh with the socialist and pinko references. Thank you. I needed that.

The meeting is serious stuff, and good luck dealing with that.

— added by Someone Said on Friday, January 9, 2009 at 9:17 am

When I attended my first Autism Society meeting, I had a small panic attack because all I could think was, “I’m one of THOSE parents now.” Funny how that happens.

— added by ASDmomNC on Friday, January 9, 2009 at 9:47 am

Anonymous wrote a much longer comment, which contained legal transcripts, making it far too long for this space. I have left in the comment itself, which gives the gist of the entire piece. I am NOT censoring; rather, I am editing the comment down to a reasonable length. –SS
“The system is completely dysfunctional from all aspects. Untrained staff, high staff turn over, the use of restriants, parents who know what’s right but are facing a DOE and hearing officers who could really care less about these kids (sorry but true). I see it everyday and it is quite frankly, sickening.
Here’s a perfect example. If a child gets to the point of having to be restrianed in this manner, clearly there is a much larger problem and breakdown of good programming long before this happens.

Parents should be given the opportunity to read these cases, however these hearing officers always seem to side with the centers who have continual staff turnover and staff that are just too inexperienced to handle being in a supervisory position. I feel for the kids because I can tell you the majority of them are not getting quality intervention they deserve, even at the supposedly ‘good centers.”[then followed a legal transcript from a case against the May Institute in Randolph, Mass. about potentially improper/abusive use of restraints…]

— added by Susan Senator on Friday, January 9, 2009 at 10:19 am

Wow…That was a good post for me today. I was just telling someone that I stopped reading your blog much because it’s too painful to read about Nat living away from home. My son is just 8 years old, but I know it will happen someday and I’m not ready to think about it yet. But I do miss reading your blog!

— added by Anonymous on Saturday, January 10, 2009 at 1:48 pm

Well — welcome back!! 🙂

— added by Susan Senator on Saturday, January 10, 2009 at 4:13 pm

I was also freaked out the first time I went to an autism society meeting. I was still hoping my twins would be mildly affected.

Now I love going somewhere where I can tell my stories and have people laugh instead of looking shocked or sad. My perspective has changed a lot, and I’m sure it’ll keep changing.

— added by Mom to JBG on Sunday, January 11, 2009 at 3:13 pm

Loved this. I believe you.

— added by Judith U. on Sunday, January 11, 2009 at 10:56 pm