Monday, February 11, 2013
"Mommy,Why Doesn't Mikey Talk?"
One day, while sitting and doing homework with Chris, he looked up at me and asked the inevitable question. He wanted to know why Mikey was not talking. I thought it was interesting that he would ask me in the middle of homework, and thought perhaps one of his classmates might have brought it up. Whatever the case may have been, he was asking, and he deserved some answers. Honestly, I had never given much thought as to how we would explain Mikey's autism to the boys because we were all actually living it each day. However, the boys obviously did not understand it , and it was time to answer some questions. Our conversation basically went like this;
Chris: "Mommy, why doesn't Mikey talk?"
Me: "Well, he has something known as autism, which makes it difficult for him to express himself."
Chris: "Will he ever be able to speak?"
Me:"I hope so, but I can't be sure."
Chris: " If he can't speak, how can he take care of himself?"
Me: " Well, we are hoping that he will soon learn to speak, but there is a chance that he may need a lot of help when he gets older."
Chris:"Don't worry, I'll take care of him."
What do you say at a moment like that? Here is my oldest son, all of age 9, telling me that he will care for his brother when he gets older. To say that I was choked up is an understatement. I went on to tell Chris that I hoped that he would never have to do that, but I was very proud of him for offering to care for Mikey. At that same time, Timmy chimed in from another room adding that he would help Chris,and that they could take turns caring for Mikey. My sons were a rambunctious bunch, were a bit rough at times, and were not always well-behaved, but they loved each other, and both Mike and I were very proud of them.
After my conversation with Chris, Mike and I had some very serious conversations. What will happen to Mikey when he is older, and we are no longer here? Who will look after him? Is it fair to have his brothers feel that they need to care for him forever? What about their own lives, future wives and children? Who did we know that would be willing to be a guardian for him if necessary? Difficult questions to answer, and not very pleasant things to talk about.Unfortunately, it was a reality and we would have to start giving it serious consideration.
This is something that every special needs parent has to consider. For me, I had never even thought about placing Mikey in an adult home, or any place where he would be cared for by anyone other than family. I tried to put all of this out of my mind, because he was only six, but it was definitely a conversation that we continued to have. Did we come up with any concrete answers? No. Do we still worry about this ? Most definitely. If anything, conversations like these, make us realize how important it is to help Mikey to become as independent as possible, and makes us proud to know that our little family that we are raising is willing to take care of their own. As for me, it has made me realize that I need to take care of myself and live to be 100.