I went to the thrift store yesterday and found a “vintage” Clue game in good shape with all of its pieces. While purchasing the game, I remembered this post I wrote a few years ago. Here it is again with some revisions. – Cat
It was done by the health care provider in the exam room with the syringe.
I used to play the game Clue when I was younger. Strategy, friends and a few hours of board-game playtime filled many afternoons. We were preteens-turned-detective using our imagination to guide us as we questioned, "Whodunit?" Each time we played, someone always found the evidence. Someone always pieced the mystery together. Someone always won the game. And someone always put away the game pieces storing the box until next time.
Piecing my son's health back together after his vaccine injury reminds me of the game Clue. When looking at all of Ronan’s evidence -- his physical health and then deterioration, his mental abilities and then disabilities, his emotional growth and then delays -- I conclude that it was done by the health care provider in the exam room with the syringe.
Sadly, after making that conclusion, there hasn’t been a ‘Game Over, I win!’ moment. I don’t get my formerly healthy kid back. I don’t get to restart his childhood or make past decisions differently. Instead, for the last eight years I’ve been on what seems like a never-ending mission—a mission to bring some bit of normal back to Ronan’s life. Just like any mission, it’s taken a great deal of work and a lot of planning. I hunt for people who can help Ronan and seek the means to afford them. I explore ideal interventions and set up goals to implement them. Using strategy and tapping into a helpful network of parents who’ve gone before me, I pray I keep the strength I need to do everything I can to be a constant support for Ronan.
I know I can’t turn his clock back to when Ronan was typically developing, but I can also never forget how it all happened. Even now, with years of handling all of Ronan’s needs, I feel blindfolded and sometimes blindsided as I try to keep hopeful. It’s taken a great deal of effort to create a plan for Ronan and to get the help he needs. Some people just don’t want to help. Detours crop up. Plans inevitably change, and setbacks are unavoidable. When plans fail and things go wrong, I am forced to go back and to look for more clues. It can all be very frustrating.
As much as I’d like to put the past into a box and store that box out of sight, I remind myself to look ahead and to focus on something positive. Easily I could dwell on the past too long or call it quits completely when things become very difficult. But Ronan hasn’t shown signs that he’s ready to give up, so I won’t either. He’s picking up skills at his pace, and I’m watching some of my dreams for him slowly come to reality along the way.
All the sleuthing the two of us have done for each other - Ronan in being more able to do for himself, and me as I grow mentally and emotionally stronger - confirm that he’s uncovering solid skills and gaining future potential. I think that’s proof positive that we’re on the right track. Hopefully this path continues to carry Ronan to more victories and toward independence.
The parent is solving the vaccine-autism mystery in the den at the computer with the internet and a vast network of friends…
Cathy Jameson is Contributing Editor to Age of Autism.