Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Full Spectrum Mama - I

There is a range of ways of being known intimately to me as a person, woman and mother, a Full Spectrum, if you will. As a mother of two high-needs children, I need to access a Full Spectrum of being in order to parent my children. That seems to me only natural: we as individuals and families manifest so much that is unique - and so much that we share. As well, in the larger picture, human beings embody a vast, diverse ocean of commonalities and divergences.

For some time I have been thinking about the spectrum of human beings and in my mind simultaneously making more connections and broadening what we are offered when we are diagnosed as different…or have children who are diagnosed as such – or we or they are perceived as such…or we or they feel different. Where do we fit in? I see rainbows and oceans of interrelations.

Without – please! -- assigning any value to the various labels, imagine the Autism Spectrum. Let’s say it extends from mild Asperger Syndrome to PDDNOS (pervasive developmental disorder, not otherwise specified) to severe Autism, sometimes presenting with other conditions. And then let’s place Sensory Processing Disorders just outside of this spectrum, to the left. Now let’s imagine that just as this spectrum extends to the right, it also extends to the left, and this hypothetical spectrum runs from so-called “normal” people (more on this later) near the middle, just beyond the “sensory processings,” to mild attachment disorders to severe attachment disorders.
Figure 1.

If I had better computer skills, this would be So much more luscious, but you get the idea. My intention is to show connections, more than distinctions.

In any case, I have two children, and I think of them at fairly opposite ends of this spectrum. My son has Asperger Syndrome and my daughter has an attachment disorder. I don’t want to in any way exploit them, so this blog will remain somewhat anonymous and I will refer to them only by initials (um, the wrong initials). I know there are other people out there who think that the wide range of humanity is fascinating; and I know there are other parents out there stretched thin. You are my people!

Son, G, was born under challenging circumstances in New York City weeks after 9/11. He was on a respirator in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit with severe meconium aspiration for a week. He is now ten years old. He is the kindest and most caring child I have ever known. Generous to a fault...and deeply socially awkward. He talks really, really loud and basically wants to talk about his special interests at all times. He would give you his most treasured possession in a heartbeat.

Daughter, Z, was adopted from China at nine months of age. She is six years old now, and stunningly beautiful, with the most perfect features I have ever seen on any human being. She is incredibly intelligent and observant. She has a terrific sense of humor and exudes glamour. We call her mini-Satan. And by “we,” I mean Me, because, you see, these two children require Two Completely Different Mothers.

So that is what you will find here – stories about my daily multiple-personality life – and how I mother the Full Spectrum. I aim to be inclusive and non-judgmental and never, ever sanctimonious…but you may find me irreverent. I will tell you why we laugh and cry around the house (oh, and in public, for better or worse!) and about our mishaps and triumphs and would love to hear your stories too.

Full Spectrum Mama

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