Walking With Drake

One Mother's perspective on autism.

Playing Offense

What does it mean to play offense?
In sports, offense (US) or offence (Can.) (see spelling differences; pronounced with first-syllable stress), also known as attack, is the action of attacking or engaging an opposing team with the objective of scoring points or goals.  Credit: Wikipedia 
As the parent of an autistic child I often feel like I am playing a sport, such as football. I've been playing this sport for over three years, and I still have so much to learn about the game.  I suppose one could say that is the mark of a good teammate, always willing to learn, grow, and be a teachable person.  For the most part I am a team player.  I try to communicate effectively with Drake's therapy team, I make sure I know what is going on at school, I am always researching and thinking of how to make life easier for him.  
I can play many different positions in this sport.  I like to be flexible and willing to go outside of my comfort zone.  Yet, in most instances, I find myself constantly playing offense.  Why?  Because I am Drake's voice.  I am his advocate.  I am his mama.  
You see, my main goal since Drake was diagnosed with autism in 2014 is to make sure he wins this game. Please don't misunderstand, I'm not talking about anything crazy like 'being cured of autism.' When I say, win, I simply mean he has been given all the opportunities possible to be successful.  Drake will develop at his own pace, and I am totally accepting of that pace. However, when I feel that things are not going smoothly or something isn't working out in Drake's best interest, I can act like the loud-mouth, obnoxious coach on the sidelines.  Sometimes I will attack.  Sometimes I will get angry.  Sometimes I will speak without fully thinking through, because there is an urgency...to win. Drake must win the game. He needs to be the one to come out on top.  I want him to go all the way to the Super Bowl ( or the FA Cup for my loyal UK readers).  I probably shouldn't pull on so many face masks on my way to get the win for him, or seem so aggressive at times, but my ultimate goal will always be for him to come out a winner.

I know there will be years when he doesn't make it all the way to the 'big game.' Perhaps goals were not met, health issues, a new co-morbid condition, or perhaps the dynamics of the team changed. But know this.  I am terrified when we have more loses than wins.  I fear things like regression and seizures.  In fact, if I'm being honest, I lay awake at night wondering when they are going to happen. I am petrified when I think about the public school system, and having to send him there without his beloved therapists. In fact, I am so terrified that I am researching other forms of education every single day and have been for months.

 I'm not going to sugarcoat it, when Drake goes through a bad patch or I can't find solutions to issues like schooling...I literally start to lose it.  I will say and do things I don't mean, but I feel I must react.  I will spew out poorly thought out emails, send out angry texts, make phone calls, and do everything in my power to get him back in the game. It's what I do, it's what I will always do, until he can do it for himself.

I am so proud of Drake and all he has accomplished.  He works harder than anyone I know.  This world can be tough for him.  He plays the "game" differently, but that certainly doesn't mean he isn't playing to win.  It is my job to make sure he has the tools and people necessary to make that win.  If that means that I play offense most of the time, so be it. I will try to do it nicely, and I will try to think things through carefully. When I'm not so nice, when I'm not thinking clearly, or when I'm acting like 'that' mama, please remember that I need you to see how passionate I am about this game.  I dove in feet first when Drake was diagnosed, and this is only the beginning. We have so many Super Bowl rings to win.  I can't wait.

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