I am so delighted and moved that people have begun reading this blog, and that some have reached out to me in the comments area. For me, one of the greatest joys in life is connecting with people who empathize with what we go through around here, either because they, too, love someone who is struggling, or because they simply have a capacity for empathy and a big heart. Thank you for stopping by and saying hello!
Today Benjy announced that he has a new best friend. This best friend is an emu who lives at a nearby poultry farm. I find this to be in equal parts heartbreaking and hilarious. As so much of what he brings to the table is. The emu's name is Zaga, by the way. Ben used to call this particular emu "Crazy," but I guess as of today he's learned to appreciate Zaga for who he (or she -- I'm not sure) is.
I think many of us who parent a child with Asperger's or another autism spectrum disorder have witnessed loneliness. For Benjy, this loneliness is heavy. It weighs him down. He develops obsessive interests in various types of animals, begs us for weeks on end for a rat/leopard gecko/budgie/Russian tortoise. Because any of these animals could be the next best friend. It was only a few weeks ago that he tried to convince me a Russian tortoise was his ticket out of loneliness. He would love it so much, and it would love him back. It kills me to say no, but we already have a family dog, and Ben has some tropical fish and a few hermit crabs, none of which have filled his emptiness. So even if we could afford another family member I would have to say no, because where does it all end? Saskia is afraid he'll grow up to be an animal hoarder, and I guess I'm a little worried about that too.
And tomorrow will probably be a day of watching Youtube videos about parrots and cockatoos and budgies ("My Pet Macaw,"etc), because as of tomorrow, Benjy has no school, no hospital program. No place to be except home with me. This is because the placement that drove him to the hospital is off the table, and the partial hospitalization (i.e. day program) he was sent to after leaving the inpatient unit was exactly like the school that had driven him to suicidality (yet again). We have a found the perfect school for him -- a small, quiet, sensory-based program -- but they have not yet decided whether they want him. Until they do, we are treading water. Luckily (and unusually) we have an amazing SPED program in our town, with a principled and compassionate middle school SPED director, and I don't think the program's price tag ($90K per year -- ouch!) will be a sticking point. Our school district knows that if Ben is in a mainstream classroom he comes home with bloodstained clothes, the result of tearing the tips off his fingers and stanching the blood on his shirt and pants. That's what extreme anxiety can do to a child, ladies and gents.
But today was not a bad day, and he is sleeping peacefully beneath his weighted blanket. There is joy in a quiet evening, with no great sadness in it. We take one day at a time around here, and tomorrow is a new day.