One of the parishioners in my Church fell at the end of Mass last weekend. Within seconds she was surrounded by at least five people. Two more were pushing their way from their pews rushing to where the woman lay on the ground. The congregation is rather large, so I thought odds were that at least two of the people at her side had some sort of medical knowledge. Two more were probably just Good Samaritans and one was just in the right place at the right time to be of assistance. I stayed put obviously not needed as the woman was getting more attention than she probably expected when she left her house that morning.
I thought to myself that if the ambulance arrives then I know these normally-everyday people have gone above and beyond the call of duty. What a blessing it was for that woman to have quick and kind people to help her, to assess her situation, to figure out that medical care was necessary and to consider making a 911 call for her right there in the middle of the sanctuary!
Sure enough, as I left Mass not only was there an ambulance arriving at the side door of the Church but a fire truck was pulling into the parking lot. Add at least six more people coming to help a stranger – and these people armed with professional medical training. Six humans who never knew this woman existed were now at the ready, front and center doing only their best to save a life. Truly another blessing for the woman who had no idea what her day was going to turn out to be.
I walked away from my Church proud of the people who put this woman’s needs first. I wanted to say kudos to them and to give a huge thanks to the many rescuers. The woman was going to be in good hands. As I walked to my car, my five-year old and I said a quick prayer for the woman. Izzy and I held hands, said the Guardian Angel prayer for the woman and asked God to keep her from serious harm.
The farther from the building and the flashing lights of the rescue wagon I got I couldn’t help but think it a shame that a generation of kids hasn’t been given a smidgen of attention that this poor woman did in ten short minutes. She went from standing on her own two feet to being surrounded by attentive, well-meaning, giving and determined individuals. These former strangers were now working as a team eager to solve the mystery of what just happened and were getting help for her ASAP.
One woman in a parish of at least 3,000 was tended to faster than I could count to ten. She became the center of attention, the focus, the one and only. A mini-medical summit about her needs converged within seconds. Her new caretakers protected her with a human shield as they swooped to her side. They made sure she didn’t further injure herself while lying on the tile floor. They probably hatched a diagnosis that was ready to be shared with the medical folks en route. Those medical folks arrived ready to transport the woman to the next set of experienced and highly-trained medical hands. From there, in a state-of-the-art facility her injuries would be inspected. Lab work would be ordered and testing quickly requested. Serious discussions would be had. More observations and examinations would occur as a new set of eyes looked for further trauma. Within hours the woman would receive top-notch immediate attention, a diagnosis and individualized take-home instructions that would also be sent to her primary physician.
For those who had stayed close by this woman in her time of need, backs would certainly be patted with a ‘Job well done, folks.’ Adrenalin would eventually return to its normal levels. Passersby would surely smile and nod. Maybe someone who knew the woman would wipe a tear and rush to hug one of the firemen who stayed behind to clean up any messes. A day in the life of what started out as normal turned into a valiant affair. Something to remember. Something to be proud of being a part of.
It’s really quite simple – see a victim; rush to help the victim; enlist more professional help; watch the victim turn into the victor. It’s too bad some parents in the autism community haven’t witnessed that kind of care from high-dollar professionals many have relied on for help. These highly-trained people have still yet to even offer the kind of attention those simple, every-day church goers easily showered upon a stricken stranger. What we are greeted with is a professional who hides behind their lab coats and fancy name plates. We barely get a raised eyebrow when our children show up at their doorway. Even after years of being sick, stagnating in their development or worse, falling completely off the typical charts, we do not hear a cause for alarm for our children. We do not see mainstream medicine get all fired up. We do not hear them acknowledge that they might have made a mistake. We are not given a valid explanation of any kind. Nor are we offered an apology. Or respect. Or further care.
A generation of children are part of the biggest unaided victims in existence. Some began day one of life full of trauma with their first vaccination. Others’ ill health caught up to them during their toddler years when the over-inflated vaccine schedule ruled the agenda of the “well-baby” visit. Some children survived those visits unscathed but only later fell completely off the typical childhood scales and crashed hard onto the autism spectrum. Those that did fall fell as suddenly and dramatically as that woman did in my Church when seizures that weren’t there the day prior to that “well-baby” visit became daily occurrences. Motor skills that were developed suddenly waned and disappeared. Expressive speech that used to include sweet toddler voices completely vanished. As their trauma intensified our children regressed into a detached, non-verbal, listless state. Where are their rescuers? When is their rescue team going to arrive? Who is ready to take charge of this potentially fatal disaster we parents have witnessed firsthand? When will these precious human beings get the attention they deserve?!
Some days I feel like I’m still waiting for help to arrive. Other days I know it won’t, so I dive right in and teach myself how to make things better for my son. Since Ronan’s golden chariot full of shiny, happy, knowledgeable and helpful medical care never showed up I went hunting for someone who should have known and stopped it, who should have seen and reported it, who should have acted and stopped the next kid from being harmed. Those people are out there. But, it takes time, patience and a whole bunch of money to find them.
Until I found a handful of people I could trust with Ronan’s medical issues, like countless other parents I started life-saving techniques for Ronan on my own. On the really good days when I feel like I have my act together, Ronan thrives and ends up teaching me a thing or two. He shows me he’s capable and reminds me to never give up. On the bad days, Ronan and I revert back to a detached, listless, non-verbal state--he because he is years behind his peers constantly working to catch up, and I because I have no more energy. I can’t speak or do or give him anything. We both are exhausted and feel repercussions from the amount of work it takes to keep a child like mine safe, healthy and properly educated.
Ronan and I are fighters though. He is a really determined little kid who doesn’t let his lack of speech, his underdeveloped motor skills and his other delays slow him down. Determination. I think he gets some of that from me. He uses it all day long. It’s something I need to remember to use every day as well. It’s gotten us through several years of some of the hardest work we’ve ever had to do.
I might never see a full work up for Ronan that includes every single one of his medical needs completely diagnosed, treated and managed. The small team of trusted providers I do consult with can only do so much without relying on some pieces of mainstream medicine. We might never uncover all of Ronan’s full potential because of the serious nature of those needs. Who knows though? With determination, as I promise to remember to inch my way forward, maybe I don’t need a rescue wagon after all.
I have a team of believers and fellow parents as determined as I am. Together we’ve done more for our children than others ever will. It may take awhile, but we can do this. Plus, if we wait any longer for a rescue wagon to suddenly appear around the corner , and then wait for the majority of society to see just how fragile Ronan and his lost generation are, we could be waiting a very long time.
Cathy Jameson is a Contributing Editor for Age of Autism.