Thursday, June 26, 2014
The Autistic Deployment.
I sit here in my sleep deprived state, watching my children, who have been up since o'dark thirty, just how does this lifestyle work for them. For us adults, we process things differently then children. Autistic or not, children see the world differently. For us, since the children have been born, we have had three four major deployments. This doesn't include any of the small ones. I am talking 6+ months gone. Each deployment has been different. At various stages of life. When they are young and small, they don't understand distance and time. For them, they just know that a parent is missing. I know that my eldest is fully capable of letting me know how he is feeling. I know when he misses his father and I know what he is upset about it. As look at my other two uniquely different children, I can't help but wonder just how this might seem to them.
The past couple of weeks, with my husband home on R&R, I have seen some good memories being made. Especially with our two autistic children. Memories that my husband got have with his children. But they were also memories that my children got to have with their father. I think in a way it was beneficial for all of them. My autistic children may not be able to express how they are feeling in regards to their father, but that doesn't mean they don't experience the range of emotion that comes from making those memories with their Dad or those emotions that follow when he has to leave. It when you see the joy on their faces, when they see him. The love that they express when they are near him. That raw sadness when he has to leave.
In their own way, they deal with this military lifestyle. Like any child, they will have their moments. I look back at the past deployments, I remember just how they coped. For them to find understanding, it was done through different means. Whether it was always putting Daddy in drawings, asking 20 bizillion questions about him or even trying to initiate the type of play Daddy normally does. I have found that my unique children have their own ways of coping. Sure it doesn't fit into how the rest of the world does it, but it makes sense to them.
I think that special needs children get lost in the flag waving, support the hero, military children are the bomb, mentality. People assume that they are unaware of what is going on. That they don't understand what it means to miss someone. When my husband was in Afghanistan, people thought my daughter didn't have a clue that he was gone, simply because she didn't talk about it, where my eldest did. But if you look at all of her art during that time, it didn't matter what the theme of the art work was, there was always her Daddy drawn somewhere in the background. Even with my non verbal 4 year old, it has been said to me.. " Well he probably doesn't know that his father is gone". I bet he does. Do you know how I know? Every time he sees a picture of his father or hears his voice, that little boy's face lights up like a Christmas tree. He might be able to express how he is feeling, but it shows that he misses him.
I guess what I am saying, is don't discredit these children. As they experience deployments or absences in their own right. What would be nice is if all those organizations that do things for military children, would do something for those who are special needs. It doesn't have to be much. Partner up with an EFMP coordinator. Get something going for families with special needs, who are going through deployment. I know that some areas to have social mixers for special needs, but not every place does. And when you see a special needs military family out and about, remember that every child in that family is going through the same range of emotions of having a family member deployed.