Well ladies and gentlemen, our Denmark chapter is over and we have officially moved to the beautiful land of ice and fire. Yes, we are back in Iceland at last! Not that Denmark isn’t lovely in its own way. It is. And we were lucky enough to get to know many wonderful people that we had to leave behind. Denmark also taught us some life changing lessons, such as how important family is, how it’s possible to live four people in a tiny apartment with one bedroom and make it work, how amazing it is to be able to bike everywhere you go without arriving in a hazy pool of sweat, and for me personally, to calculate the time of travel into the equation of being on time! So sure, Denmark has a lot to offer. But there’s no place like home.
It’s been a year today since you let your presence known and changed our lives forever. I won’t lie, getting the verdict was a tremendous shock and it didn’t get easier when we realized, soon after, that not only did JA have autism but also his younger brother, V. For days we were in complete denial and disbelief. For weeks we were devastated, grieving the loss of our sons’ future we had imagined. We didn’t give you the warmest welcome – rather the opposite. We were angry with you for choosing our boys as targets. We hated your presence and for a long time, we had nothing but negative feelings towards you. I think it’s safe to say that we were not prepared for your appearance but I guess it has something to do with your bad reputation. Fortunately, we’ve come to learn that your reputation is grossly exaggerated.
Those of you who’ve been following my blog for a while probably know about the extensive sleeping problems of our V and how they’ve been affecting the family. As explicitly explained in my post Autism Sleeping Problems, my husband and I have practically not had a night off together in months since one of us has been stuck in the bedroom, trying to get the little gorilla boy to sleep – without much luck! It wasn’t unusual that he was still awake at 11 pm after more than three hours of “Lie down!”, “Stop playing and go to bed… now!”, “Stop standing on your head!” (see video below), and “Honey, will you just please fall asleep now! PLEASE!!!”. It has been a nightmare!
When asked “which do you want first, the good news or the bad news?” I always choose the bad news first. I guess I always want to get the worst part over with and then start focusing on the positives. Which is why I’ll start this post with the negatives of marriage, namely the divorce rates. When searching the internet for statistics I found that the general divorce rate in the US is approximately 50%. While these are striking numbers, I’m sure they’re not far from the statistics in most western countries. For years, rumors of even higher divorce rates of parents of autistic children have circulated where numbers as high as 80% have been frequently mentioned. Not an encouraging thought and I could not help but wonder: is this really true?
Before I go into details in this post I feel it is important to emphasize that I am no expert on the matters of autism but merely a mother whose son has been diagnosed and is likely to get a diagnosis for the other one too. Hence, my writings are but accounts of that experience and how it affects the family. One important aspect of that is how all this affected my husband and I in different ways.
It had been a few days since our older son, JA, had been diagnosed with autism and we’d been online ever since, reading everything we could get a hold on about the condition. At first, the main goal was to methodologically go through everything that had been written about autism spectrum disorder (ASD) as to provide some proof that JA did not really fit within the autistic spectrum. We were still very much in the denial phase, not willing to simply accept the verdict without a fight. But as the research went on, the reading became increasingly mixed with dread. The ice cold suspicion slowly sneaked up on us like a fog that at first seems innocent but abruptly becomes so thick that you can’t find your way out. Could it really be?
When couples make the decision to add a child to the family, the image they picture is usually of the perfect family, happily adoring this tiny little thing that has suddenly become the center of the universe. When thinking further into the future, parents tend to imagine their children growing up to be happy individuals and valued members of society. These future images rarely involve anything out of the ordinary. Thus, it is always a severe blow when people learn that their child has some kind of a condition that is likely to affect their future prospects.
Welcome to my new blog. My name is Ragga, an Icelandic 30 year old, currently living in Denmark with my husband and two sons where we aim to finish our graduate education in the coming summer of 2012. The reason why I decided to create this blog is because in September 2011 our lives as a family changed irreversibly forever when my elder son,4 years of age, was diagnosed with autism. It came as a tremendous surprise and we’ve been coping with the news, trying to adjust to the new reality, ever since.