For every 5 fantastic aides or therapists we've had for Owen and Will, there has easily been one who was dreadful. It's not difficult to pick out the the ones who aren't in this line of work for the right reasons. Or the ones who talk the talk and put on the show of being the bubbly, fun-loving play-mates to the kids when the parents and bosses are around, but when you sneak home early on them, you find them baked out on your couch, watching tv. Maybe they think that because the kids can't speak they won't tell us when they've been ignored? -but they seem to forget that there's Big Brother Jake to give us the real scoop. But the truth of the matter is, Owen and Will are very competent at communicating their feelings about people. They are great judges of character.
The boys are nine years old now. They aren't babies. They love their cuddles, but I believe that they are very aware that they are big boys and not babies. They have strong ideas and opinions about life and I am always impressed by how clearly they seem to read people. If you talk to them like babies, be prepared to be ignored. If you ignore them, they'll act like you don't exist.
There are a lot of well-intentioned, good-hearted people out there and I understand that it's not easy to read my boys. I don't even know what they're thinking most of the time. But being awkward around them is not the same thing as looking right through them. Or treating them like they are nothing more than mindless idiots. You can't just pat them on the head like a dog with a smile on your face and feel good about yourself afterwards.
Which is why when a Lauren steps into the picture, you know you've found gold.
Owen is a tough nut. He has some intense fears that prevent him from bravely throwing himself into new situations. It can take him a long while to trust someone. He may appear to be ignoring a person, or he might seem to be more interested in banging his blocks together than to acknowledge your presence. But you can trust that he's studying you from the corner of his eye. He's assessing whether or not you really SEE him.
Lauren has always seen Owen the boy. Not Owen the autistic boy. And he knows this. I can't tell you what exactly has made their connection so strong, but it's undeniable. Owen beams when we tell him "Lauren's coming to see you today". I truly don't think that happens with a single other person.
When we were contemplating a move from Calgary, Lauren was the one I didn't want to face. When I weighed the pros and cons of whether or not to leave, separating Owen from Lauren was at the top of the list of what to consider. We will never have another Lauren. I pray that someone steps up to the plate and volunteers to try. All three of my boys could use a friend outside of our family, who they can count on. Someone who has their back and offers them some respite from the intensity of our life sometimes. But before that happens, I have to live with knowing that I may be hurting Owen with this move, more than I am helping him. I spend a lot of time stressing over what will go through Owen's mind when he realizes that we are in a new and unfamiliar world in Ontario. Will he understand that we won't be going back anytime soon? Will he wonder what happened to Lauren and why she isn't there on Mondays to pick him up for a swim? Or will he understand it all and blame me for taking him away from her?
Time will tell but I am sure that time will never erase the impression that Lauren has made on Owen's life and that of our whole family. We have truly been blessed over the past six years to have made so many beautiful relationships with people who came into our lives because of their work with our boys. We won't forget you and we hope we see you again soon. Lauren will always have a place in our family. No matter where we live.