Tuesday, October 14, 2008

The Weight

I've been offline for a few days...M chewed through my power cord on my laptop...sigh.
We've hit at least $1000 in damages from things he's chewed. Remember the $250 post-operative, knee cooler thingamabob we borrowed from the neighbors that he chewed? I repurchased another and had it sitting in the foyer the day I called the neighbors to tell them I wanted to bring it over. I'd opened the top of the box only to get the invoice out of it...I hadn't touched another thing. One weekend M was very quiet and it hit me...holy shit, what was he up to? I looked over the star rails and there he was, the new cooler's squishy tubing yet again in his mouth. I made a horrible noise and kept saying 'Oh, no. Oh, no' over and over. Brandon thought he'd fallen and broken his neck or something...I do feel badly about making him think that. But I freaked. I freaked so hard I had to go shut myself in my room for a bit until I calmed down. I felt like such an ass for leaving it anywhere near him.
So I explained it to the neighbor and she was very kind about it. It hadn't pierced through the inner tubing, just the outer layer. So it wasn't as though the water couldn't still flow through it. And so I gave them this not-quite-perfect, yet new, replacement for their $250 cooler. The next day, the husband (who is fairly intense---the guy ran a 100-mile marathon recently) came over and said he'd noticed that something was wrong with the tubing. I said, 'didn't your wife tell you?' And of course, she had not...probably because she knows better than I do just how intense her husband is. Anyhow, I explained what had happened and how I was very sorry, but since it was only a cosmetic defect and didn't compromise the use of the system, I thought it would be okay...dear, me, please let it be okay since the damn thing cost $250. And what did he say to me? He said, 'Yeah, I'm really sorry that your son has to chew things, but that cooler won't work. That tubing (the tubing we glued back together and would have done just fine with an approximately 4-inch piece of duct tape on it as a last resort--that's my thoughts, not his!) holds in the condensation. I put that brace on my knee after surgery all night long and it would have leaked water on me without that tubing, so I'm going to need you to get another one.' I very patiently nodded my head. Said I understood and that absolutely we'd do the right thing (again) and walked back inside to deliver the news to my other half who I knew would not take it calmly. Nope...he was one pissed Papa. He said that it was b.s. about the condensation bit. And I'll give him this much---the neighbor did kind of talk down to me like I was a dumbass who wouldn't know any better about condensation. And the other half actually even yelled out the word 'asshole' as he was sitting out in our backyard. I, being the diplomat that I am, didn't necessarily think this was a very wise idea since we have to live by these people. But it doesn't mean I wasn't sort of thinking it. So $500 later, they have hopefully received their second theracool unit. I'm thinking they need to give us the other one (to go with the even more screwed up one we originally borrowed) so we can maybe craigslist it for a few dollars. If they keep it, I'm calling asshole on them too. Ahh....the joys. Did I mention that his last comment about this was 'Hopefully we'll never have a need to use this thing again.' Argh...

Oddly enough, my intent was not to tell you that whole story tonight. It must be the wine making me so verbose. Hey--speaking of wine--try Hahn Estates Meritage for about $15. Damn good wine.

But I digress...again.

What I really wanted to post about tonight was what we've been up to the past week or so. We hired an independent, autism-specialized psychologist to do testing and observations on M so we could see if his school was the proper environment for him and that the school was giving him enough services. We haven't received her full report, but I did get a little info. from her after the last meeting. Basically, she doesn't think that any public school is suitable for our little guy and his needs. The current staff is lovely and tries to be accomodating, but they just don't have the right training or tools to really 'get' him. The classroom is too busy. They rush him in his lessons. They pull him out to different therapies and classrooms constantly so that he is not able to get a good routine down and a comfortable rhythm to his day. And here is the real kicker: all private, autism-specific schools in this area are approximately $70,000/year. Let that set in for a minute. Seventy-Freaking-Thousand-Dollars-Per-Year. I am not exaggerating this number at all. In fact, the one school I visited today is actualy $72,000/year. Reverse those numbers and you have the yearly tuition for the private school he'd be in if we still lived in Austin...another sigh.

We can attempt to fight the school district to pay for this schooling. This doesn't generally happen just by asking. This is a lengthy process that can cost tens of thousands of dollars and from what I have been told, is very emotional and draining. Like so emotional and draining that marriages fail during the process. And the worst thing is that after you spend those tens of thousands of dollars, you may not get the outcome you want and you're totally screwed.

So we see ourselves faced with the following options:

-Attempt to get the school district to pay for at least half of the tuition and commute the 30-45 minutes to the school
-Sell our house on the coast, downsize into a house near the school, and bite the bullet and pay for the tuition ourselves
-Move back to Austin
-Move somewhere else

The other half and I have lots to talk about and consider. No matter the outcome, we feel like shit for being in this situation in the first place. Oh, and the real kicker? I asked the psychologist where, in her professional opinion, did M fit on the autism spectrum. Her answer? Somewhere between moderately and SEVERELY autistic. Mind you, this is the boy who received a 'high functioning' autism diagnosis in January. While I saw this coming, the other half is having an especially difficult time digesting this information. Can't/won't talk about it. Awesome.

So we have moved far, far away from family and watched our little boy go into a tailspin and regress to a place where only the highly specialized can reach him. It is a weight so big my heart can barely contain it.

And I hate to keep piling on the negativism, but either when I was visiting the private school today or at Radio Shack buying the $100 replacement power cord for my laptop, some a-hole in a red car hit me and didn't leave a note. And when I say 'hit me,' I don't mean just a little red ding. I mean, left a giant paint mark on the corner of my bumper, a dent, and tore the back panel off of my car.

If it weren't for bad luck, I'd have no luck at all.

I hope karma bites them in the ass.


little miss mel said...


I AM SO SORRY for all the shit that is going down in your neck of the woods. When it rains, it pours.

I wouldn't know what to do. You just got here. The fact that you might have to leave is so hard to hear.

Please know you are in my thoughts sweety. If you need to talk, I'm here.

fer said...

First, you are such an awesome woman I feel honored to know you.

Second, you need to ask for the damaged theracool back. FOR SURE.

Third, I don't know what to tell you about the choices before you--public schools are trying their darndest to catch up and educate themselves about autism and appropriate interventions, etc., and I can only imagine that programs will look very different in some years, but we're not there yet. In the meantime, it's you and your kid. And doing your very best for him within reason. I know you will make a choice you can live with for the time being--and remember, you can always change your mind!

Lots of Love...

Squid said...

You need to write to me right now, and then I will send you my # so we can have a long talk. aba_help@@@@@@yahoo.com

Gmama's friend Squid who slept on the floor not in the pod.