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Wouldn’t It Be Good

Ronan flower

By Cathy Jameson

Another appointment.  Another bag of snacks and drinks packed.  Another refill of the diapers, wipes and a change of clothes to the backpack I lug everywhere.  Another mad scramble out the door.  Even though I’ve packed to go out, and have been ready at least an hour before wherever it is we have to be, it still comes down to a craze-filled ‘get in the car or else!’ rushed moment.  This is the life I lead as the mother of five children, one of whom has special needs. 

Ronan has more on his To Do lists than I do because of all of his specialists, therapies and appointments.  Every appointment I make for Ronan is strategically planned to include when I have to leave the house so as not to be late.  But, every appointment comes with some sort of delay, road block or hiccup.  You’d think I might have better control of this seeing as Ronan’s been in some sort of therapy weekly for the last six years.  Some parents might have an easier way of doing things, but factor in that wherever Ronan goes, so do some or all of his siblings.  It isn’t for every trip that they go with Ronan, but it is often.  In a perfect world, I would leave the typical kids with a friend or a sitter. In a perfect world, Ronan wouldn’t need to go to multiple weekly therapy sessions. 

Ronan’s brother and sisters add a lot of extra stuff to my well-laid plans.  They have been going with me to almost all of Ronan’s appointments this summer.  Even after several weeks of joining us, they are all still learning how to successfully get out the door!  No matter what I’ve tried, I don’t have just Ronan’s issues to manage as he prepares for another day out, but I also have four typical kids who think they are as individually as needy as he is.  What should be an easy transition from the house to the car to a waiting room into the hands of a helpful therapist turns into a clown car circus side show.  When half-a-dozen Jamesons pile into a stuffy waiting room, some with wrinkled clothing and unbrushed hair, the place comes alive with noise, movement and sometimes madness. 

It’s isn’t always a joyful, “We’re here!” kind of welcome that greets us when we enter that room.  We aren’t quiet and some of us come in with cranky moods nestled deeply within our being.  I can usually stifle my lack of enthusiasm for being crammed in a room not meant for more than 5 people, but we pig pile in wherever we fit (which includes taking over the entire place).  I can usually mask the sheer horror of how my typical kids are behaving toward each other until Ronan’s younger sister announces she’s not pleased with her current situation--add an irritated vocal disseminator of annoyance to my mix and sitting through the next few moments are followed by a tense-filled 30 minutes of doom and gloom that was recently just a boring, old waiting room.

Sometimes, when the planets align just perfectly, the waiting room fiasco is nowhere to be found.  I double check to make sure I’m in the right place:  Speech Therapy…Thursday…2pm…check!  When we able to find that quiet calm, sibling rivalry takes a rest for the short time we are crammed in that uninviting area.  I can actually sit down and read a magazine!  Granted it’s a magazine from six months ago, but I never had the chance to read any of the information then so it’s all new news to me.   I look up and glance instead of glare at my children because they are actual quiet while reading or playing WITH each other.  My ears aren’t full of “MOM, she took that from me!” or “Do we have any snacks? I’m SO hungry,” even though I fed them a full meal before we left the house.  I think, “Wow, we can do this.  It isn’t so bad after all.” 

What I wouldn’t do to leave the kids with someone else for that appointment time.  It would be so good for them to have an hour off from the intensity of Ronan’s care.  They’ve sacrificed much of their childhood without realizing it.  I’m not going to tell them they’ve missed out on some of those moments; that wouldn’t be fair to them.  Instead, I tell them how grown up they’ve gotten and how responsible they are.  I also remind them often how wonderful they are to Ronan and how helpful they are to me especially when I need an extra pair of hands they so lovingly offered.  Those are the moments that I wish could go on forever.

When we escape a little bit of our reality while waiting for Ronan’s therapy time to be up, I feel like we’ll be able to move forward with whatever Ronan brings us once he walks out of the therapist’s doors.  Most of the time Ronan is content as he leaves a session—he stays on task after he’s gotten a great report of yet another skill accomplished.  Other days, Ronan’s behavior has gotten in the way of his chance to be successful.  He becomes the bull in the China shop ready to knock down everything and anyone in his path.  No matter how he re-enters the space we have claimed as ours, he’s greeted with smiles from me and his siblings.  We gather whatever it is we’ve brought in and quickly leave so as not to draw attention to whomever in our party might have snapped while trying to wait patiently.  As quickly as we had clown car into the place, we clown car back into our vehicle.  We’re off and ready to cross off the next To Do item on Ronan’s lengthy list.

I forget sometimes that my typical children see and hear everything that I do with Ronan like when I groan, “OH, NO! Ronan, we don’t go in the bathtub with our clothes on!”  Or, “Ronan!  Get off that chair before you fall!” (as he tries to climb up to the refrigerator to get a DVD I’ve hidden).  It’s not just that they hear me correcting Ronan.  They also see the frustration on my face or in my body language as I fix what has been messed up or broken multiple times that day. 

The siblings try to intervene, but Ronan is strong.  Even though he’s shorter than they are, he isn’t always gentle when it comes to getting out of his way.   I don’t cover up Ronan’s disabilities, but I don’t want his brother and sisters to become reluctant to offer help when Ronan isn’t cooperative.  I always want my children to have compassion and love for their brother even after his unpredictable behavior takes over.  I never want them to tire of the constant he is.

Thankfully, these siblings see all of who Ronan is and find more reason to celebrate than be resentful.  Even as the little sister who scowls at the length of time it takes to sit through yet another speech session, these kids encourage Ronan as if he were running a race in the Olympics.   Formerly disgruntled younger sister sits next to Ronan in the car and is more than thrilled to yell the good things, too.  Last week it was, “MOMMY!  Look! Ronan signed ‘day’!”  Her eyes grow wide, her smile filled the backseat and her infectious giggle was proof enough that she was one proud little lady. 

Ronan’s brother was just as proud when he beamed, “Ronan let me use his iPad, and he didn’t want it back!”  The iPad has become *the* object of choice for Ronan so for him to give it up to a sibling to play with it was a huge good deed.  Ronan’s gotten to learn some stellar turn taking when offering the iPad to his brother.  Sometimes that turn is only a second or two long and is followed up with a rough and tumble iPad wrestling match between the boys (in which I always root for Ronan).  But, turns are to be taken around here, and Ronan must learn how to do that.  It isn’t always with appreciation that he does this, but it is part of the life we are preparing for him. 

All these things I do for Ronan, and subsequently his siblings do for him, give us as a family another chance to hope for healing, recovery and a change to our reality.  Our reality sees things no one should see.  We experience heartache, pain and pitfalls that have required years of therapy to reverse.  It’s not what I had hoped for as a parent.  Many days I wish those someones who refuse to believe Ronan was vaccine injured could please stand in my shoes to see and feel exactly what it is he and we go through. 

Even if it was for part of just one day, I’d wish away a lot of what our family has gone through.  I’d do that even though my children have learned incredible skills because of their brother—they’ve had to work through their emotions of frustration toward a sibling who can’t control himself yet.  They’ve been scarred with trauma adults probably couldn’t handle.  I’d try to give back to my typical children the extra time Ronan’s therapy has taken from their activities.  

I’d want to be somewhere else and with other people instead of coordinating the meetings, appointments and conferences I’ve had to because of Ronan and his great needs.  But, to change all of that isn’t my reality, and I don’t think it ever will be.  I wouldn’t wish away the chance to grow as a parent and to be proud of my children as I envision their successful futures—futures being shaped by their brother.  I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else but with this family of mine even though we have lived through great emotional pain along this journey.  I wouldn’t give away any of the knowledge I have gained either.  Vaccine injury, autism and the many special needs topics I’ve encountered are things I want to one day tuck away, far, far away in a closet never to be seen or heard from again.  Even though I’d rather have not have had to learn about any of it personally, all of it has contributed to the parent I am today to Ronan and to all of his siblings.

In my head I might want to be elsewhere, but I think I am in the right place at the right time with the right people.  Most days it would be good to be somewhere else—somewhere where there is only healing and recovery.  Fortunately, because I know what happened to Ronan and how he got this way, I will find that somewhere else.  I know that on the other side of what happened to him there is a future to behold—a future full of achievement and success.  It might be still be years away, but one day at a time I will get Ronan to that future. 


Cathy Jameson is a Contributing Editor for Age of Autism.



Laura S.

Beautiful! This made me smile in recognition of my own pigpile/clowncar moments. Now that my oldest ASD son has outgrown many of his therapies, thankfully, the stressful moments are much fewer. However, one stands out -- needing to take all 3 with me to my 6 week post-partum appt. last summer. Of course we were running late, and as I rushed in to the waiting room to check in, the receptionist informed me that my appt. was cancelled as I was more than 10 minutes late. Of course, every time I was on time during the school year (minus two clowns) pregnancy visits, I had to wait at least ten minutes. I didn't mind though cause I got to read those out of date magazines. ;-)


You are amazing, my friend! Thanks for sharing your family and your gift of writing with us!! xox


Clown car.. and pig pile, you crack me up :)

Oh BTW, Ben crooked his neck around nearly giving himself whiplash trying to look at a vehicle like yours the other day. I'm not saying he remembered, although he possibly could, but it did make me smile and think of you and wonder if it was indeed you. :)

Karen G

I can totally relate. I have 3 kids on the spectrum and I couldn't even begin to count how many appointments we've had in the past 8 years. I'm so tired that I took this summer almost entirely off to try to do what typical families do. It's been wonderful not racing out the door 3 or 4 times a day although I have to admit that at times I feel very guilty.


I had to laugh at the clown car effect too, and the uncombed hair. You have FIVE children. If you got closer to perfect, you might start smelling of caramel and wafting up to heaven like a character in a Garcia Marquez story.

We do comb the hair even if nothing else is gotten quite right, but it's just a fear thing. Double public meltdowns means there's always the risk of someone calling the cops. Sartorial splendor simply reduces the risks because people smell money.

Part of that consciousness over not getting it all right in terms of appearance is just the trend in the US today. Uptight and moralizing but void of any real ethics.


Angus the one that needed the slapping was the one suggesting it was needed.


Thank you for this piece-I had to laugh about the "clown car" because that is my family all the way. Today I just had 1 child with me at the mall(my oldest with ASD) We were going school shopping and he leaves my side for a sec. and I turn because I hear snickering and my nearly 13 yr. old son had climbed on one of those huge fake, made-up beds. He is cozy under the covers, caressing the blanket while sucking his thumb. I give you a lot of credit,Cathy. I have 3 special needs kids and it is very difficult to get ready to leave the house never mind actually getting somewhere. With 5, that seems like a miracle. That sounds like my Ryan when you talk about Ronan going into the tub with clothes on or climbing to get to the top of the fridge for a hidden DVD(where I hide them also) Never a dull moment in our lives-that's for sure!

Angus Files

I find the Autism Tshirts help the ones with "Autism 1-100"
etc.. even then I have had from an ex-school teacher of mine who should know better ,after explaining Autism and thats why these kids do what they do he replied "all that boy needs is a good slap"

Ignorance is bliss they say

Thanks Cathy


Thank you for your piece. As the mom of 4, 3 ASD, one with ADHD I can totally relate. At least at the therapy office the other people in the waiting room aren't giving us looks since they understand. it's the Dr and dentist office I can't deal with the glares of others who are annoyed by my light switch flipping, non verbal twins. I am glad your other kids help, I hope my daughters will one day.

Pass the popcorn

I marvel at what you accomplish every single day.

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