The Backwards Support Group Meeting

So yesterday was my first trip to a local support group for parents of Autistic children. I’d already done some research on the group and knew that my son would be more than welcome there. Childcare is provided during the meetings so that if you are single, you can bring them along, or if you are a couple, both Mom and Dad can attend. However, the entire day was kind of a mess.

It all started the night before. My husband, son, and I went to visit my mom, which is an all day event because she lives about an hour away and when we got home our air conditioner had stopped working. So my husband, trying to make himself feel better called the office that runs the apartment complex we live in at 11:30 p.m. to find that instead of an answering machine, he got one of the property managers who was getting ready for bed. So, he explained the problem and then yesterday morning at about 8:15 the maintenance person was knocking at our door and there I was in my night gown creating yesterday’s post. My husband and son were both still in the bed. I said, “Just a minute” several times, but I guess it’s difficult to hear from our deck since we live right next to a busy road and because I wasn’t heard, the maintenance person let himself in, while I was getting dressed and my husband was just rolling out of bed. The maintenance man found the problem, which was a missing screw in the motor and went off to rebuild it. It must have been a simple task because he was back with another maintenance person and the fixed motor in about 20 minutes. So, the air conditioning got fixed, but my husband and I had planned a “random day of fun” to get us out of the apartment while our air conditioner wasn’t working and I’d been looking forward to it.

Since we didn’t get to do this “random day of fun” we decided that our son needed new clothes for school (he starts preschool in August) because he’d outgrown every stitch he had. He literally went from a size 3T to 5T just over the summer, but he hasn’t turned four yet.

After shopping and putting things away it was time to rush off to the support group meeting. My husband was exhausted from not sleeping well because of the heat and going shopping, so he decided to stay at home, but I wanted to take Monkey to get him acquainted with the process. I’d never been to the place before, so I gave myself 30 minutes to get to a place that was about 10-15 minutes away. I arrived early. In fact, I was so early that I beat the person who runs it by about 10 minutes. The only other person there was the person who looks after the kids that come with their parents. This was great though, because it gave me the opportunity to let my son get acquainted with the woman and the play room before I had to rush off to the meeting. This also gave me the opportunity to tell the woman who would be looking after my son a little bit about him. In fact, it worked out so well, that I only heard him scream once and it was because the woman kept shutting the door. My son wanted to shut the door for her, but she didn’t know that. Once he was given that opportunity, he quit screaming and went about playing like usual.

The meeting, however was not all that interesting until the last half hour. The first problem was that everyone showed up late with the exception of the person watching the children who got there before me, one of the guest speakers and one other lady. The guest speaker was someone from a charity organization that raises money for selected charities by doing fun activities, which led to a discussion about fund raising and there was another guest speaker from a volunteer organization called Best Buddies where adults and older children (in some cases) are paired with college students to do group activities, much like Big Brothers/Big Sisters only for people with disabilities and targeted more toward adults. She discussed some of her ideas for what her organization will be doing this year and some of the parents wanted to know how their children could participate. This took up the majority of the meeting and my son is not four yet, so it wasn’t really that useful for me to know at the moment, but then the hostess began sending around information books, magazines, and pamphlets and that’s when the meeting began to get interesting. I was able to ask another one of the parents about a program in my state that covers some of the costs of therapies that a medical card won’t cover and the book is suppose to help also.

Then about 15 minutes before the event was suppose to be over, someone suggested that we introduce ourselves. Up until then, I was trying to figure out who was who by whose name had been said at some point. The only people who’d been introduced before this point were the two guest speakers. Then we slowly went around the room introducing ourselves, stopping at several points to ask questions to people sitting near us or to the person introducing themselves and then it was time to go. My son had been lead into the room where I was and was just wandering around in sight of me, patiently waiting for his mommy to finish talking so we could go home. He had fun though, playing in his own little world. All of the other children that came were well over his age, so no one really bothered him and he was okay as long as no one else was bothering him. And then we left. On the way home, I turned the wrong direction three times, but only had to turn around and go the other way once since the last two wrong turns just made the trip a bit longer, but didn’t really get me lost. When I got home, my husband was outside waiting for me, about to call my cell because I was so late. As we came up the steps to our apartment, I explained to him that I accidentally took the long route home. He laughed and said, “Yeah, that’s just another way of saying you got lost.” I had a map to get there, but didn’t really look at the map to get back and I still say that I wasn’t really lost (I knew exactly where I was. I just took a few wrong turns.) Then I told my husband all about the meeting, explaining that it was a “backwards support group meeting,” meaning that the beginning was at the end (introductions) and the end was at the beginning (people arriving late; usually people have to leave).


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