Mother Truths

by Mary Ulrich

by Mary O’Brien

Being a dutiful mother, There are parents who I searched for cures with the best of them. have made awful decisions for their kids Some of those cures included: — sending them away to live in institu­

• visits with the guru in the popular tions, for instance. I have been getting

book Spontaneous Healing; (We discontin-to know some of them. We disagree on ued the treatments with vibrators in strange many things but I have found one single forms when Aaron, our son, developed high principle we hold in common.

fevers and his head swelled.) We believe in accountability.

• white ping pong balls kept over his Not all parents of people with dis­navel while he slept; (In theory, this pro-abilities believe in freedom, self-deter­vided more oxygen to the brain. The balls mination, dignity or respect. had to be white. Discontinued when Aaron Not all believe in inclusive educa­refused to sleep with the bump.) tion. We don’t all believe that people

• sensory integration therapy where he must be allowed to live in the most inte­was swung in a net until his eyes started to grated setting. We don’t all agree that jerk back and forth; sheltered workshops are sweatshops.

• more than 100 vitamins a day at a cost Not all agree that of $150, recommended after a hair analysis. group homes are insti­(Discontinued. Aaron spit them up.) tutions. But we do

agree that people who

Anne Donnellan says that the more make their money off theories there are, the more we can be sure our kids’ backs must that we don’t know very much. Autism has be held accountable. more theories than most. We all agree that

Looking back, I would probably do the case managers are like same things. It was through searching for monkeys with hand “Best Practice” and alternatives that I heard grenades. They know about inclusion, self-determination, and enough to do real Facilitated Communication, all of which damage, but not have been life-changing for Aaron and our enough to care. If they family. Another thing that helped was the don’t have the train-quote from Robert Schuller: “Look at what ing and the compas­you have, not at what you have lost.” The sion, they can’t help. child I have is a pretty wonderful guy. They must be held ac-

I don’t actively search for a cure any-countable. more. But I do keep looking for ways to make We agree that all Aaron’s life more active, more connected to the people who touch others, more valued in his community. I a child’s life and all want others to see his gifts. those who supervise

Helen Keller wrote, “The best and most direct staff must be beautiful things in the world cannot be seen accountable for their or even touched. They must be felt with the actions — and their heart.” Aaron touches our hearts every day. inaction as well.