That’s what I’ve been watching the past week ever since I discovered all of the seasons are now available online. I’ve watched a few episodes before but never really got hooked. I’m kind of glad I didn’t because now I can just watch as many consecutive episodes as I want without having to wait! It’s a lot like watching the entire Lord of the Rings trilogy (extended version) when you didn’t see the original movies. This being made even more true by the presence of Dominic Monaghan a former hobbit of said trilogy. I’m almost through season 2!
But it also reflects where we are the past few days. Thanks for all of the comments and encouragement, and I expected a lot of positive feedback given the fact that most of you have been beating me over head with a counseling club the past couple of years. Arwyn is willing to go, this is true and good. But we’re still not really going anywhere. I looked at some old journals and found that this business of being marooned dates back to at least 1999! Which happens to coincide with the birth of our first child.
Desmond asked for some special needs child backstory. No, this has not been a theme of this blog although it has been a major theme for Arwyn’s emotional storyline. I actually do have a blog out there that deals with autism and disabilities (she knows about that one but doesn’t read it) but my personal story as a parent still is not a major theme there. It’s sort of a secondary story. It has been a big part of our lives and I think we’ve been dealing with it. But I put the marriage on a higher priority level than any disability. This is easier said than done for any mother I’ve ever met. The children usually are elevated into a position of supreme importance and most other things become marginalized including the mothers themselves. In the process, I had to learn to be less selfish which has been a constant and painful exercise.
The divorce rate for parents of children with special needs is about 80%. For autism it is around 90% according to statics Arwyn has read. The question of “why” has not been sufficiently addressed in the professional literature of either autism or marital therapy fields. It’s not hard to imagine how increased medical costs can strain a marriage financially. Or the stress of raising a child with physical and behavioral issues. However autism lends itself to stresses as far as cause and treatment unlike any other disorder or disability. There are no physical markers. There are no blood tests. There are behavioral rating scales and tests of physical, emotional and adaptive development. Even though everyone agrees this is neurological no one knows exactly the the cause and there is no cure. So it is like there is this mystery thing at work and Arwyn set off to solve it. Mostly without me, even though my education and background are more in-depth in this area. She set off to find the cure. This involved trying a lot of stupid crap. Special diets. Special nutrients. Special therapies. All of it is pseudoscience and all of it is expensive as hell. Our financial hell was mostly fueled by this sort of crap financed by my limited salary as a special education teacher.
As I started to say last post, my response to Arwyn’s deepening obsession with pseudo science was anger and withdrawal. Supportive? Why on earth would I support something that is so obviously fraudulant? It is a long con that always opens with “Just try it! Wouldn’t you do anything for your child if there was only just a chance? Why won’t you just try it? How can you put a dollar amount on the health of your child?”
All cons make use of pride, guilt and fear. With autism, the guilt is already there and so is the fear. All the con artist has to do is fan the flame a bit and then pride takes over when a family who is doing the diet, therapy or other expensive intervention is seen as being more hopeful, more intelligent, more diligent and a better parent than the ones who are not throwing money down the toilet. I might even get a comment or two here from purveyors of crap if I give this an “autism” tag. It’s like the spanking discussion; it’s hard to have a rational conversation about interventions when so much is based on irrational feelings.
Parents of older kids know what we’re just starting to learn: we have to accept our kids as they are. Autism is not the end of the world. It doesn’t have to be the end of marriage. But it frequently is.
If you talk to women, they will point the fingers at the father. He is in denial and can not handle it so he abandons his wife and child. I do see that sometimes, but that is making it seem more simple than it really is. The man might not be abandoning his child as much as his wife. Is it because he wants no responsibility? Not likely since most guys are willing to put forth a minimum of effort if they get married in the first place. But I have seen firsthand the change the mother goes through once she becomes mother. The whole concept of “wife” get thrown out the window in favor of this new role. The guy who is now “father” doesn’t anticipate the role of “husband” coming to an end but that pretty much becomes the reality. Most couples do experience a cascading effect where marital satisfaction declines after a child is born. It involves a fundamental shift in roles and responsibilities and if a marriage is already weak, having a child makes it even weaker. If the child has special needs, multiply that effect by a factor of 4.
Arwyn did admit that she was consumed by the autism world until fairly recently. She can still get caught up in things but she has mellowed on it a bit. Her and I would still have intimacy issues regardless of our child’s disability, so I have not made that a major theme here. We are exceptional and extraordinary because of what we’ve been through. But we haven’t gotten any closer as much as we’ve gotten less hostile which is progress of its own. But we can do so much better if the marriage could just show up on the radar screen for both of us once in a while. The counseling at least helps put it there for an hour or so a week.