Friday, April 20, 2012

Normal Is Just A Cycle On A Washing Machine (Part 2)

If you would like to read part 1 please click HERE


My Story (part 2)

Once Brodie got to High School that was a whole new ball game. By then Mark and I were now an item. Having Mark in the home made things better for me. I had someone else to help support me. Of course Brodie rebelled a bit. I think that knowing Mark since Brodie was 7 had helped a lot at this stage. He's grown up with him as a role model.

High School was hard. Even though I had told the school that Brodie had Aspergers and ADHD they didn't seen to understand. Some of the teachers made it a nightmare. Brodie was constantly getting suspended. Year 8 and 9 were the years from hell** as far as I was concerned. Brodie spent more time at home from being suspended than he did at school. One teacher in particular seemed to go out of his way to pick on Brodie. At least it felt like it at the time. It didn't help that some of the kids knew exactly what buttons to push with Brodie to get him started on some silly idea or to get him so annoyed he acted out. These kids didn't seem to get punished at all but Brodie did.

I was upset all the time and extremely stressed. I was so distressed one time while I was visiting the Primary school where Angus still went that the Principal asked if it was okay that he contacted Anglicare on my behalf. I thought it couldn't hurt. It was probably one of the best things we could have ever done. We had a fantastic case worker called Marg. Marg was part of Anglicare's Family Support program. She attended school meetings with me to make sure that I was heard. That Brodie was heard. Marg was our advocate. Anglicare even paid for Brodie to be 'officially' be tested and given a diagnosis of Aspergers. Our paediatricians word wasn't enough without the piece of paper to back it up.

Finally things started happening again. They were turning around and improving. That piece of paper opened new doors for us. New services were made available. We had help from a Travelling Teacher from Mansfield Autism Statewide Services. She observed classes in school and at home. She gave us suggestions that might help us out. Provided the school wanted to implement them. Anything to make life easier was good in my books.

We were in contact with GCAMHS (Gippsland Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services) again and had a new case worker, Cate. She worked with Brodie and myself on a regular basis. School finally got funding for Brodie and in Year 9 he had is very own aide. I don't know if it was because of the aide, the fantastic special ed. teacher at his school or the fact that Brodie was now maturing. Maybe it was a combination of that and all the hard work we had done over the years that everything was slowly improving. Of course we had good and bad days but doesn't everyone?

During all of this horrible stuff that was happening at school I decided to take the boys back to Church. I hadn't been for years. Not since Brodie was a baby. I had tried going with the boys when we had first moved over to Victoria but it was hard. Angus refused to attend Primary classes on his own. Brodie was handful and I was constantly worried that he might misbehave. I wanted to attend so that I could make new friends but being stuck with the kids in their Sunday school classes defeated the purpose. So I gave up trying and stayed home.

Once Mark and I got together we both decided to go to back to Church. We went to the Moe ward. Where we were welcomed with open arms. I spoke with the Bishop and explained that Brodie had Aspergers and ADHD. It didn't matter. Brodie was accepted for who he was. They didn't care that he was different. The kids made friends with him. No one tried to change him. It was the first time in years that he was truly accepted. It was a relief to finally be able to go somewhere and not be judged. It felt wonderful. Brodie got to socialise. He was able to put into practise all of those skills we had worked on over the years. He was forging relationships with kids his own age. Something I never thought would happen.

After Brodie's diagnosis I cried a lot. I cried for what I thought Brodie had lost. I cried for the future that I dreamed of. I cried because he wasn't like other kids. I cried for that perfect baby that I had who was no somehow different. I grieved for what would never be.

As I now look back on things I see how much Brodie has changed. How much our family has grown because of his diagnosis. How much we have learned as a family. I see all of the things that Brodie has now achieved. I no longer see him as a person with Aspergers. Sometimes I even forget that he has it. To me he is outstanding. He has all these skills that others are jealous of. He can play guitar like a professional. He has computer skills that are amazing. I have come to realise that those dreams I had for him are still there. That he will be successful in what he wants to do with his life. That he has that family of his own that he dreams about. The dreams are still there they've just changed a little. It doesn't matter that he isn't normal. What is normal for you is not normal for me. After all that my family has been through I have learned that normal is just a cycle on a washing machine*.

* the quote is not one of my own. I read it many years ago while chatting with a friend online. It's something that has stuck in my head ever since.

** If you're interested in reading what my life was like when "the years from hell" were happening check my blog archive from 2006 - 2008. Please bear in mind that I was suffering badly from depression back then & some of my posts share my raw emotions. Back then my blog was private and only Mark, my girlfriend Traci or I read it.

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