Monday, March 29, 2010

Last night I feared for being a parent-to-be

I'm currently single, but sometimes working with kids makes me wish I already had a few of my own, but last night I feared being a parent, to which my mind "shut off" at 3am because I was thinking A LOT about it...


Last night I was working with one of my church's youth groups, the newly appointed youth pastor and his wife, Pam and Jim*, also brought their kids, Elle and Jay*, two cute little kids who have a lot of energy and are honorary members of the youth group. I was playing with them, mostly with Elle, engaging him with bouncing a ball to him and him handing it back to me, and then out of nowhere he makes a beeline to Jay, grabs her by her neck and throws her down. Now Elle's little himself, but he is still the older brother and is capable of doing this, so I pull him off his sister, but he comes back to her again and again to try to throw his little sister to the ground. Pam and Jim help with stopping this from happening, but I saw Jay starting to throw herself on the ground before her brother could do it. I could see the fear in her eyes, ahelp me and hold me look of desperation, I held her several times just to keep Elle from getting at her and she normally doesn't like being held by me (still a little shy around me) but she let me because I was her escape, I was her protector.

...Did I mention that Elle has autism?


Now I know a bit about the Autistic Spectrum Disorder, through a class calledExceptional Child, through studying ASD on my own, through reading what other Psychologists have said, through watching documentaries on those who have it or featuring those who have it... needless to say, I have a bunch of head knowledge on ASD, but am willing to learn more, for Pam and Jim, but also for me, to which (I figure) my head knowledge kept me up to 3am, my body was asleep but my mind was playing over the night's scenarios between Elle and Jay, but also what I know...and for that I developed a bit of fear as a parent-yet-to-be.
I am by no means ready to be a parent (I thought I was, but that's a closed chapter in my life, moving forward...) but I was gripped by fear last night/this morning with thoughts of what if I have a kid who has Autism? What if he (more boys than girls fall on the Autistic Spectrum) is on the lower function end of it? What if I need to keep him from grabbing a sibling by the neck and throwing him/her down on a constant basis? These thoughts threw a curveball at my intentions to get a good night sleep, alas I struck out.


I don't know if my kids will have Autism (Is there actually a way to see if it is genetically locked within my DNA?) but I know that as a Psychologist and a father-to-be I will have to take more classes, learn more about ASD, but ultimately love my kids unconditionally and work with them and enforce positive reinforcement and help them to get out their frustrations (to which it's hard to release some of that for kids with Autism) in a positive way. I leave it entirely in God's capable hands, and I intend to learn more -- for my sake, but also for Pam and Jim's sake, it shows on their faces that they're a bit drained by Elle, I want to help them out as their friend first but as a Psychologist second.


*Not their real names