Saturday, April 13, 2013

Dreams and Realities

I recently read many comments that were written by parents in response to a post someone made on Facebook. The comments were concerning these parents' anguish over the things their autistic child(ren) will never be able to do. Several described their children desperately praying for the chance to be married, have children, etc.

I definitely understand the fact that autism is a huge diagnosis with individuals on varying places on the spectrum. I do not mean to insinuate anything for anyone else's circumstances. I can only address my daughter's; however, the comments started a chain of thoughts about dreams people have for their lives. It led me down so many paths, I will have to devote an entire chapter in the book to 'dreams and realities.' But for now, I would like to write about some dreams of Kalisha's (and some of the realities accompanying them).

I also want to state I definitely believe in a God of miracles, so all things are possible; however, I am writing this post from a strictly humanly possible perspective.

If you asked Kalisha to state the one thing she really, really, would like to do, she would immediately say, "Drive." The reality of the situation is: driving a motor vehicle is not in the realm of possibility for her. She is not good at multi-tasking. I described the 'driving test' that was administered to ascertain if she could possibly learn to drive, in a previous post. When it was over, the instructor told her she ran over 2 dogs and a mailman.

At one point, she wanted to be a flight attendant. I knew this was not going to happen, but instead of squashing the dream, I had her research it. She printed a ream of paper listing all necessary requirements, training, costs, etc. She told herself it wasn't a possibility.

She would like to attend college some day and have a boyfriend and go on dates so she could talk about it with girlfriends.
She would like to be married some day. She would like to have a baby some day. She dreams of living on her own some day. She would like to have a real job some day. She would really like to be "normal' (her words, not mine) some day.

Those are all dreams she has. Some of them might become reality, but the real reality is that many of them won't. AND, the other reality is she might not be happy if they did.
I have a friend, Karen, who is visually impaired. When I asked her permission to write about her, I gave the example that she might dream of being a pilot, but that will never, ever, be a reality. She replied that she would be happy if she could drive a car; forget piloting a plane. That will never be a reality, either.

I feel as though I have not finished any of the points I wanted to make, so here is a list.

1) Try to find an alternative to your child's dream. Even though Kalisha wants to drive, she has not wasted valuable life minutes pining over that. Instead, she has learned to ride the city bus. She is proficient at reading schedules, memorizing routes, knowing each route' s destination.
2) With lots of determunation and hard work, some dreams can be realized. It took her three years to learn to ride a bike, but she accomplished it.
3) Some dreams might be attainable, but are they really something your child wants or just wants to talk about? At this point in her life, the dream of college is possibly attainable, but she would rather talk about it than do it.

4)Don't miss alternate opportunities for your child while waiting for a miracle. Kalisha volunteered at a daycare and learned how much work is involved in having a child.

5) Do our children own all of their dreams or as a parent, are they our dreams for our child? I am so guilty of that sometimes. Do I want Kalisha to do all those normal teenage/young adult things? YES! Some days, even more than she does! Do I love her as she is? Of course. I also realize that nearly all parents have dreams for their children, but I believe it is more heartbreaking for special needs children and their parents, because the ratio of dreams to reality is much smaller.

I could give you many many more examples of dreams vs. reality, but I will put them in the book. For now, I will quote my friend, Karen again. She said, "Walt Disney was wrong. Not all dreams come true."

(You can visit Karen's website at )

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