After the bee incident, Mimi took George to the children’s hospital where he underwent testing for a full week. At the end of the week she met with a neurologist, who diagnosed George with “childhood neurosis.” Mom questioned the doctor about autism and was told that he would not put that label on George because it would follow him for the rest of his life.
“Well now, it’s let’s do it and get it, you know, put that label on him, get him some help. Not then.”
“I knew in my heart he was autistic, and he would not say that he was autistic.”
George would not receive an autism diagnosis until he was fifteen.
If you have been following my posts about Mimi and George, beginning here, you realize how hopeless her story has sounded so far. You may recognize pieces of your own story. Or you may feel that it is so different from your story that you can’t relate.
Why did I choose to tell Mimi’s story of raising a son with severe autism?
When I mention my book in posts, for some reason, probably typing laziness, I don’t usually mention the subtitle.
My full book title is: Conversations About Autism: Real-Life Experiences of Struggle, Acceptance, and Hope.
After listening to people’s stories and putting their words on paper, I wanted just the right words for my subtitle. I spent months brainstorming and sifting through words with my book coaches, my beta readers, some of the parents who shared. I wanted to come up with the perfect combination of terms. The final choice does a pretty decent job of encapsulating the feeling of the stories.
Parts, but not all, of Mimi and George’s story are included in my book. Because of the way I structured the chapters by topic, no one’s story is told in entirety. This was done intentionally to protect family privacy.
As I post Mimi’s full story, with her permission, you will read about the Mimi’s struggles. You will also hear about the acceptance and hope that follow as her son George grows into a middle-aged man, a man with severe autism.
So, back to the question of why I chose Mimi’s story for my blog posts?
There are several reasons.
Her story is unique in that it encompasses fifty-five years of autism history. I believe, because of this, it is an important story for people today to hear, whether you are a parent of a child with autism or just someone trying to learn more about the spectrum.
I began learning about autism in 1994. I can find parallels between what was happening in George’s life and what I was learning and experiencing as an educator, along with the changes I observed. I think I can bring more useful and, hopefully, interesting information to you because of this.
Mimi’s story explores over fifty years of one mother’s journey as a parent of a child with severe autism. Many parents of younger children, parents who worry about what the future might bring for their own child, can see how things evolved for this one family. They may find their own peace and hope in this story.
Mimi and George’s options were limited when George was young. They were limited by lack of understanding of autism in the medical and educational professions. I think it is helpful to understand the positive changes that have occurred in the diagnosis and education of individuals with autism. It is also interesting to see that, sometimes, the medical and educational professions don’t seem to have advanced as much as we might feel they should have.
Mimi is a strong, positive, and resilient woman. She and George have gone through many things during their fifty-five years together. While their life seemed so sad and hopeless in those early years, now it is good and filled with hope.
For those of us who do not have children with autism, it is powerful to understand that children with autism grow into adults with autism.
These adults do not usually look like Sheldon Cooper or Dr. Shaun Murphy, characters in television series. They probably do not have the savant behaviors portrayed by Dustin Hoffman in Rain Man. They are people with good and bad days like the rest of us. They have value. They are loved.
Hopefully you will look forward to further posts about Mimi and George to learn about how their story changed over the course of fifty-five years.
By the way, Mimi and her fifty-five-year-old son George are doing amazingly well during this period of Covid-19 and social distancing. I just talked to Mimi a couple days ago.
More on that in the next post.