The 12 steps revisited

Yet more noodles with Boo yesterday

A long long time ago, I joined A.A. (Autism Acceptance) and began writing the 12 Steps to Becoming a Special Parent

Go here for Step 1, Step 2, Step 3 and Step 4.
(That's as far as I got. I should also be a member of ADD - A obviously - as my attention wavered at that point and I never got back to it)

This weekend while reflecting on the fact that I still hadn't started my secret project; I realised what it is that has held me back. And how I can again draw on the analogy of A.A. to get over this.

You see, the original A.A. or Alcoholics Anonymous, works on the premise that every member and every sponsor is an Alcoholic. There is no impartial social worker or psychologist standing in judgement over the group.

So everyone who supports you has actually "been there" - to rock bottom and back and now feels able to offer you a hand up in support.

And that is where my little secret comes in.

I have never really felt qualified to put what I write here in print because I don't know how the story "ends". Kids still have autism and still attending 100% specialist school. Household still the epicentre of autism world.

Whereas the formula for these things seems to be:

1. My life was bad Waaaaah!
2. I found out about a Dog, Dolphin, (giving up) Donuts, or a Alternative Wholistic Healer/Shaman/Shyster
3. And my child was "cured/recovered"
4. Write a book about it. Sell millions get on MTV/Oprah and become a world autism celebrity.

Whereas my approach seems to be:

1. Have a pain in the arse day with autism/special needs/or just kids and adolescence generally.
2. Talk to people, read stuff, try stuff; some of which works
3. Have a vaguely better day
4. Have another but slightly different pain in the arse day..

And I always feel that Step 2 and Step 4 disqualifies me. It's not fixed, it's not perfect.
I could be celebrating my new star chart/timer method of getting an 11 year old dressed and in the car by 9.30am - only to find myself on the verge of mental breakdown as the 9 year old wants me to repeat " I Want Nugg" for the 17th time in 2 minutes, while the 11 year old whines and objects everytime she prompts me....

but in the real A.A. - the fact that I can slip backwards at anytime qualifies me as a "sponsor".

Can you see where I'm going with this?



Petunia said…
Once again Hammie, you have hit the proverbial nail on the head. I love the support we get from you and I have always though of you as extremely qualified to guide us through our different journeys. Our maps may all be different but we all have a common goal, to make our childrens and our own lives a little easier. I feel so lucky to have found things that work for Munchkin but know that regression can and does happen too so am on alert for that.

When you asked me to blog, I felt extrememly anxious about doing so as would consider others on the journey to be far more qualified to talk about autism than me. In blogging though, I have realised just how far we have come on our little map and you were right, it has been cathartic to do so.

I recently had a conversation with another autie mom and voiced my concern that if Munchkin was ever to lose her diagnosis in the future, I would feel as if I wouldn't be able to stay with our little support group as wouldn't meet the criteria anymore (see how much the HSE & DSFA messes with your head lol) I wonder how many alcoholics feel that attached to their AA meetings...

drwende said…
Excellent point!

At the risk of being uncharitable, I kind of wonder what happens later with the parents who pronounce their children "cured." Isn't autism (oversimplified) something non-standard going on in the brain? Kids' brains are still developing. What works one day shouldn't necessarily work the next, unless you happen to have got out ahead of the development curve -- and since maturing isn't linear, maybe not always even then. Your frustrations ring so much more true for someone being honest about real children.
"Whereas the formula for these things seems to be:

1. My life was bad Waaaaah!
2. I found out about a Dog, Dolphin, (giving up) Donuts, or a Alternative Wholistic Healer/Shaman/Shyster
3. And my child was "cured/recovered"
4. Write a book about it. Sell millions get on MTV/Oprah and become a world autism celebrity."

That is the exact same model for infertility and when I couldn't manage to find a dolphin, donut or healer to heal us of our infertile state then I couldn't sell the book that promised a cure and get to go on Oprah.

I am seem to be more in your model of dealing with my infertility. It isn't as glamorous as the first model and yet it seems a lot ore true to me.

p.s. Loved your Palin terrier joke. Is that a terrier who barks, "You betcha" and winks a lot?;-)
WendyB said…
I've been having some issues lately...I think I need a dolphin.
Make Do Style said…
Gosh I think your AA is universal to being a parent. I'm learning and glued to what you say just to deal with a 3 year old!
Nan P. said…
Hammie, the AA (and other similar 12-step programme groups) have slogans that go like this: "Progress, not Perfection" and "One Day a a Time".... e.g. not searching for and finding the mythical cure (even though that would be nice), but learning to live with the bloody thing (what ever it is) and get on with it.

So I agree with you, MTV/Opra would have been nice, but reality bites, hard sometimes, harder even...

Come back to those steps, I'd love to read what you have to say on the next one... ;-)
K.Line said…
Oh, you have raised a terrific point. Where's the fix? When does it get easy? (Or easier...)

It's like you've encapsulated so much of everyday life - meh day, better day, bad day, oooh good day etc. But I think, in this uncharted territory you have every reason to question what's going to happen next. As a person who can't deal with the unknowability of the most banal things, I give you big props.
Sharon McDaid said…
So true woman, every word here.

There's no end, you just go on living and learning, adapting and facing the new difficulties and joys as you go.
Braindance said…

Just passing through to say how ace I think you are, I have no personal experience in the world of autism,sounds like a mental journey, I admire you very much for your approach and dedication.

Have you checked Daniel Tammet's new book, Embracing the wide sky? I am reading it at present, it is brilliant.
Casdok said…
Im up and down those steps like a yoyo!
jazzygal said…
Oh...yes Hammie! I'm so glad to see your getting back to those steps...can't wait to hear more.

I think I too belong to the ADD group...I never seem to finish what I start these days and I hop from one job to another like a demented bunny, not finishing either!

And've just voiced what I feel. Sometimes I feel like a fraud being part of our little community now that Snugs "only" has PDDNOS. They have TOTALLY fecked with my head. xx J
Gracie:) said…
Attention Wavering....hrmm....why does that ring a bell .....can't remember :)

Anyway what you do is WHAT YOU DO. You are a writer, a story teller, you belong on Oprah.

Gracie XX
Clive said…
Damn, that swim with the dolphins didn't make any difference last year!!

Oh, well, guess I better put the first draft of the book away for the moment!!
Sister Wolf said…
So, good, are you offering to be my sponsor? I accept!
Trish Hunter said…
You're so right, those items are very Skye!
I too look forward to reading more of her blogs. Hahah I think I'll be taking your advice and sitting on my hands next time..
and perhaps not wearing a hat either haha.

Anonymous said…
you look stressed!
Lisamaree said…
Petunia: your words are often what keeps me going. You would be a great sponsor>xx

DrWende: The next part of the project is very much about your encouragement.And yes. Those curebies often find Mr Puberty comes around to bite them on the arse! xx

La Belle: So you get me, don't you?And I would vote for Lily in a heartbeat.

WendyB: is there anything Dolphins Can't do?

Kate: thankyou. I hope I can continue that way.- my plan depends on it...

NanP: The Twelve Steps have a few things right- will get on to them again soon. xx

K-Line: I decided today I should have been a carpenter. There at least you would be able to make something and say - There. It's finished. Smoothed Sanded and Level. Everything else seems to be unperfectable. xx

Sharon: Thanks. And it is the patches of Joy that keep me going. xx

Braindance: Thanks for dropping by. Yes it is a mental and physical journey. One balances the other. xx

Cas: you keep coming back up and that's what matters xx

Jazzy: it's all autism. The label thing is really starting to shit me as it is just resource related!!!

Mammy: you are my inspiration. I kept that message you sent me 3 years ago you know. It's what got me started.. xx

Clive: as long as it doesn't annoy the dolphins or the kids then it won't do any harm at least. xx

Sis:I will be yours if you will be mine. xx

Trish: xx

Anonymous: Thanks (not) That means I look old right???
Tricia said…
I'd so much rather read the real thing than the fantasy miracle Oprah story! Much more admirable and heroic.