Another Lesson In Single Autism Mom Land

Filed Under (Single Parenthood) by Estee on 11-08-2010

We hate it when we see our children get sick. When we watch them suffer, all we say is that we wish we could suffer for them. Honestly, watching Adam be ill is one of the hardest things.  Yet I know what to do. I know how to take care of him. As a single mom who becomes ill herself I am more at a loss.

After that wonderful weekend in New York with my fellow autism bloggers, I seemed to be functioning fine. Then on Monday evening,  all of a sudden, I began to shiver uncontrollably. In the middle of one of Toronto’s hottest summers, I began layering myself with winter socks, sweaters  and six blankets. This began to happen when Adam came home from camp and from time spent with his dad and I hadn’t seen Adam for a few days!  I had to pull myself together long enough to get food on the table, and ready him for bed. I could hardly read the books and play the games I had planned for his homecoming. Adam’s face was beaming at seeing me and I felt like I was cheating him, even though I knew it couldn’t be helped.

After I got him to sleep, I went to my own bed, layering myself with more blankets and a heating pad, knowing full well I must have a raging fever.  Then it suddenly began to hurt when I was breathing in on my right side. I knew I was getting a kidney infection after having one when I was a kid. I have never in my life shivered like that and I knew I should probably go to the E.R. Yet with Adam sleeping, I had to consider if I could make it through the night until I could see my doctor in the morning. The shivering was so bad my muscles began to hurt.  I had to start considering my options.

I am an only child. I don’t have siblings to call on for assistance. I have friends who I would call if it really was my last option, as I’m the type who doesn’t like to ask for help unless it’s critical. Instead, I have parents — the loving grandparents of Adam who take him on long walks in our beloved city or some forest path in the country, for subway rides and to places I’m certain I’ve never been.  As long as they are here, they are always  ready to help Adam and I, always on call, and this is a gift I don’t take for granted. They were eager to come over but I waited a little bit until I could wait no more (because I am stubborn). Dad took me to the E.R. while my mother stayed at my home for Adam. Yet I wonder how I would have gotten to the hospital  if I did not have anyone to call in the night for help with Adam. If I was single without children, I would have just called a cab and made it to the hospital myself. It’s not like that when we have children. With autistic children, if this were the daytime, I would also need extra assistance because Adam would have difficulty playing quietly in a room for hours and hours.

It got me thinking about single parenthood and how we all need support. As single aut-moms or dads, we need extra support in times like these precisely because our autistic children need extra assistance as well. It got me thinking about our interdependence and community and how we need to be on call for others as much as we need others on call for us. I don’t know if it’s an only-child thing, but it’s difficult for me to ask for help.  I also wonder in all of this, if  Individualism may have gone too far, and it’s something that we all know as autistic people and parents of autstic people that we cannot afford.  No wo/man is an island, although we seem to think that we should be.

There are writings out there about how we can seek extra supports. Books like More Than A Mom, for parents with special needs children. There are some good resources out there that can help us with ideas. It’s definitely important to create a back-up plan as single parents, for it really does take a  community to raise a child, and we need our support systems organized and ready. In the meantime, I’ve not only learned another lesson in my new role as single parent, but I am humbled, if not grateful, that there are people willing to lend a helping hand.

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About Me


ESTÉE KLAR

I’m a PhD candidate at York University, Critical Disability Studies, with a multi-disciplinary background in the arts as a curator and writer. I am the Founder of The Autism Acceptance Project (www.taaproject.com), and an enamoured mother of my only son who lives with the autism label. I like to write about our journey, critical issues regarding autism in the area of human rights, law, and social justice, as well as reflexive practices in (auto)ethnographic writing about autism.