Thursday, April 11, 2013

Chutes and Ladders and LIFE

When I was a little girl, I loved to play the game, "Chutes and Ladders."  Climbing the ladders with my cardboard game piece was always exhilarating.  If I avoided a square with a dreaded slide, I celebrated by clapping loudly and bouncing in my seat!


Years and years later, I still find myself playing, "Chutes and Ladders."  Simply because my children adore it.  Camren loves to count the squares on the board and identify the numbers on the spinner, and Lilly...well...she loves to win!


Truthfully, I don't love the game as much as I used to.  (And how Scrooge-alicious is that?!)  Why?  Because I can't seem to get my game piece to go anywhere.  Like a stick stuck in the mud, I rarely move!  The spinner arrow often lands on the low numbers when it is my turn, and I almost always, always land on a slide!


I've been thinking a lot about that childhood game lately, as it seems to relate to current events in my life.  Last October, my pediatrician told me she was concerned about Cam's language development.  This observation resulted in a whole gauntlet of tests and evaluations, as well as meetings with a brilliant speech therapist.  At the end of it all, we were told he did not qualify for help through our school district.  With a pat on the back, we were sent out the door with an armful of reading material, and were told to work with him at home.

Six months later, at a follow up appointment (only days ago), I was met with some unsettling news that sent a jolt straight to my mama's heart.  Cam's language skills have not improved much, resulting in his doctor's admonition to "seek more testing."  She used all the buzz words I had heard before:  Autism Spectrum Disorder.  Idiosyncratic speech.  Jargon.  Speech therapy.

  
And just like that, this mama landed on a slide.  I whooshed all the way back down to the bottom.  To that formidable "square one."

I have no answers.  I have no solutions.  I have been handed a proverbial package of questions and concerns, and I'm looking at it in my hands, and I'm wondering, "What am I supposed to do with this?"  I am discouraged.  I am frustrated.

So, I did one of the only things I could do (besides eat a cookie)...I brought it up to my friend, Cobi.  I felt I needed to talk to her.


Her beautiful, blue-eyed son is autistic.  She is a warrior mother--a true example of strength and perseverance.  She works hard and loves fiercely, and has armed herself with information to help her son.  Over the phone, I told her all about my situation.  My setbacks and my woes.  I used my "Chutes and Ladders" analogy to convey how I was feeling.  I told her I had been met with a slide.


She said something to me that took my breath away:

"There will be slides on this journey.  You have to accept that there will be slides.  They won't necessarily send you back to square one, but with each one you will learn something.  You'll start to get answers.  There will be ladders too.  The ladders are what you focus on."

Life is very much like a game of "Chutes and Ladders."  It is filled to the brim with the highest highs and the lowest lows.  It's natural and inevitable--that we'll face ups and downs.  It is universal.  We all have encountered those exhilarating ladders, and have joyously climbed skyward.  We've also wept when the slides have crossed our paths, sending us down, and down, and down.

How we choose to handle the ups and downs is entirely individual.  Me?  I choose to take my friend's advice:

Accept the slides.
Celebrate the ladders.

                       

16 comments:

  1. Love this! We are on a slide of our own right now with a long list of diagnoses, paperwork up to my eyeballs, neuropsych appointments, occupational therapy appointments and meeting after meeting with the school. I need the reminder to celebrate the ladders even when they bring us to another slide. What a good reminder.

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  2. Love the analogy. We are going through our own speech evaluations for my son and find out on Monday if he qualifies through the board of Ed for services. This has been one of the most stressful times, but I have found such great support through the blogging community.

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  3. Love you and that little man of yours.

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  4. Hugs to you! whatever square you land on will be exactly where you needed to be to reach the next ladder. You can do this! You can do hard things!

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  5. My older brother has Asbergers. Your friend is exactly right. There are hard days and you figure them out and the good days are that much more beautiful. Best of luck to you.

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  6. Facing the unknown is a great source of anxiety. I have no doubt that you will handle whatever Cam is facing with grace and love - just the way you handle everything else. Much love to you!

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  7. You are such an inspiration! I hate the unknown. I remember going to the pediatrician for Harper's 9 month appointment. I told the pediatrician that Harper couldn't roll over yet and had no interest in crawling either. He looked at me very seriously and told me that we needed to start looking at some options to help her. After the appointment, I went into my car, buckled up my precious baby and bawled like a baby. It was the first time someone had told me that my baby wasn't "perfect". After months of therapy, things are looking up. Motherhood is such a scary journey, but it is also the most rewarding opportunity that anyone could ever be given. I love you dearly and your family is in my prayers! You can do hard things!

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  8. I love this analogy. My son, Hunter, was diagnosed with high-functining Autism at 4 (he's now 12). Though the slides are breath-taking and frightening, there are definitely more ladders on the way!

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  9. Aleisha, I love you. This was such a beautiful, touching, honest post. It brought me to tears. You are incredible and strong and Camren is blessed to have a mother like you. You all haven't left my prayers and never will. I'm here for you, mama. Always. I hope this weekend is filled with hope and peace. Xoxox
    Maria

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  10. I'm glad among all the frustrations your friend was able to offer you some peace. I worked for 6 years with kids on the Autism Spectrum, and although working with is different than parenting, I know there are many ups and downs, leaps forward and steps back. But it was one of the most rewarding experiences I have ever had and the joy of accomplishments became 1000 times more special.

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  11. You are amazing. I'm so sorry you're facing this challenge right now. I love your analogy. I hate not knowing what the future holds in any situation but when it deals with our kids it's even harder I think. Heavenly Father knows you and loves you. Don't forget that. You're an amazing mom and anything He hands you - even if it is hard - I know you will make it through -- regardless of it being a chute or a ladder! :) hugs to you girly.

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  12. So happy to meet you! Love your writing. Love your shoes. Love the lipstick. Love it! Love it!!

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  13. Oh my goodness. As if I didn't enjoy your blog already... this makes me love you. I have a 12 year old son who has Asperger's. It's a scary thing to have autism feel like it invades your life! Just remember: He is still the same little boy that he was before those words passed through your ears. There's just a name for it now. It's scary, but oh.... the victories outweigh the set backs hundred-fold. And you get to view life in ways others cannot, and it's sad what they miss.

    I'm rooting for you, Mama. You're not alone, and I know you know that, but sometimes it sure feels like you are. If you want to see inside someone's life with younger kids and varying forms of autism, my BFF has 4 kids, 3 of which are autistic. She is amazing and inspires me everyday. You can see her at www.mustlovemommyhood.com.

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  14. Being a mom can be so hard. Watching your child go through testing for speech or anything else is SO hard. Three of my four boys have been in speech, two of them still are. It makes me feel like a failure as a mother that they have needed speech. I realize that because I have gotten help for them that I'm not failing, but it is hard to watch them go through all the testing. I think you are amazing, and though it is hard, we are all doing the best that we can do. Good luck with all that you are dealing with. I love your analogy of chutes and ladders, and celebrating the ladders. You are amazing and I know your kids think you are amazing, and you can do hard things! {Hugs}

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