1. JulieP
    August 24, 2015 @ 12:31 pm

    I have been thinking about this a lot, too. I keep reading about young adults dying from heroin overdoses–kids from ‘good families, good towns.’ I have been told that heroin is ‘in the high school’ in my town, a town full of professionals, big beautiful lawns & houses, team sports & a school system always on the “top schools” lists. I have watched these kids grow up. I know these parents. I wonder how did we get here?

    I don’t comment much…mainly because of time. I love reading your weekly posts. I relate to so much of what you share. You put words to my thoughts.

    When I think about my early days as a young mother, I remember how lost I felt. And looking back, I realize what I really wanted was someone to forgive me for the unnamable disquiet of blame and hurt I carried every day.

    That is exactly how I felt. It took way too long before my younger son with Aspergers (and anxiety, sensory issue, etc…;-) ) was properly diagnosed (not for lack of trying.) I blamed myself, thinking ‘What am I doing wrong here??’ and “Why does it look so much easier for everyone else?” when seeing the other moms at school, playgroups, library, everywhere…while my little wild one was melting down. “He’s intriguing” was what I kept hearing at all the evaluations both by the school and privately. I tried so hard. I started to question myself at times like ‘is what I am seeing and experiencing here with my son not really as challenging as it seems to our family?” I half-joked to a therapist I started to see about parenting him that maybe I had “munchausen by proxy’ for developmental disorders or something. He had been on an IEP since Kindergarten, with no real services because no one could really figure out what his needs were, but knew he needed to be watched over, or as one teacher ‘he’s going to fall apart’. He doesn’t fit the stereotype for Aspergers in so many ways–which as we all know with Autism Spectrum Disorders and kids/people in general, they’re all different. By age 9, a neurologist at Boston Children’s diagnosed him with a bunch of different acronyms, including PDD-NOS, but her main diagnosis & that of the first neuropsychologist we saw was “he’s intriguing (not kidding!! I heard this over and over again…) and we won’t know what’s really going on until we help with his anxiety–the anxiety that he didn’t know he had, we didn’t know that certain odd behaviors like tightening his pants & pulling them up really high were signs of anxiety. Ugh, my poor boy. Now I know so much more about anxiety, how overwhelming the world can be for my boy, that he would keep it together at school during those elementary school years and then explode when he was home. Oh the blame, the hurt I carried and still do. By 11, after another round of evaluations & some amazing Developmental Pediatricians at the Developmental Medicine Center at Children’s, his diagnosis was tweaked to Autism Spectrum Disorder (Aspergers is the closest way to describe where he falls on the spectrum.)

    When I read your blog, I feel understood. I feel forgiven. So thank you.


    • Tracey
      August 25, 2015 @ 6:55 am

      JulieP, we are struggling to find a correct diagnosis for our 7 year old son and your story really sounds familiar. I would love to ask you more if you are willing to connect. If you are willing, reply to this and I will leave my email (or you could me on Facebook, I don’t really want to publish my email)


  2. Laura
    August 24, 2015 @ 12:41 pm

    There was a wonderful experiment on opiate addiction during the 80’s called “The Rat Park.” The theory was that caged isolation in previous rat experiments on opiates made the rats more likely to prefer opiates and foster addiction. I don’t want to misquote or make any assumptions in my inexperience, so I greatly advise you to research this and read about it yourself here:


    I also have son with autism; he just turned 11. If the key to preventing addiction is really to make sure our children don’t feel isolated, then, as mothers with autism, we have an uphill battle. Fortunately, I see the world changing every day to make space for autism. I see kids trying to relate to my son and including him and showing much more patience than I think the 11 year olds of my day would have shown. So there’s something.


  3. Peter Mannella
    August 24, 2015 @ 1:42 pm

    I read this as a parent and saw in your writing the laments and concerns of all parents…very intuitive and very on the mark…you speak so well for so many of us…not just from your perspective on autism but as a Mom concerned about ALL her kids and whether she and Dad have done what they can or should to parent…to guide…to teach…hats off to you Carrie…


  4. Ruth Wisner
    August 24, 2015 @ 2:41 pm

    I’ve been a mom for 35 years. I’ve had many of the same fears as you do, Carrie. I tried to arm my kids with the knowledge that they likely would develop some kind of anxiety, because it runs rampant in both their father and mother’s family genes. I thought that if they knew what might happen they would be less likely to self-medicate. I thought that If I made our house the one that all the kids wanted to hang out in, I could be there to keep a closer eye on my own. I spent countless hours with my children, first at home when they were young, then driving them to sports, friends’ homes and school. By the time he was 16, my oldest was diagnosed with generalized anxiety disorder and put on medication. I heaved a sigh of relief. Little did I know then that his two younger siblings would find a vial of ketamine, or Vitamin K, in his desk drawer and bring it to me. After a long heartfelt discussion, my son told me that he had been self-medicating with everything from alcohol to heroin. What did I do wrong? Was it because we made a long distance move during middle school? Was it because I became pregnant with his brother when he was 8 and had previously been an only child? Was it because he never got to know his biological father? Or that the man I married who then adopted him liked sports while my son liked computers? I’ll never figure out what made my son turn to drugs instead of me. I can tell you that he managed to turn himself around. He finished high school, went on to junior college, four-year college and then med school. He is now a practicing radiologist. I can’t take “credit” for that any more than I can take “credit” for him getting into drugs. I guess what I’m saying is that you really can’t do any one thing to keep your kids off drugs. Keep doing what you’re doing. Stay involved. Keep talking to them. Laugh with them (a lot). Listen to them; really listen. Be open and honest. Then let your worries go. And know that you are doing the best you can. 🙂


    • Cami
      August 25, 2015 @ 11:18 pm

      It’s a very scary fact- and having a grown son with autism, I only think that his unique personality and openness kept him away from drugs; plus the personal education he received from home. He is now 25 and has never had alcohol or any desire to experience any mind altering substances. We are parents who grew up in the 70’s – yet, there is no substance use in our home at all- his sister is another story!- as tight as your family is, I can’t imagine one of the kids having an issue without another knowing or intervening!! Good Italian Brood!!


  5. andersonacjr@comcast.net
    August 30, 2015 @ 11:14 am

    Thank-you for sharing what every parent feels in this climate of Heroin etc. We do the best we can with the knowledge we have. When we go to bed at night we can end our day not without worry, but knowing we did our best even for just that day. The rest we give to God.


  6. cbspira
    August 31, 2015 @ 11:38 am

    It’s ironic that someone shared this image with me a few days after your article:

    The caption is:
    Teach your kids photography and they’ll never have enough money to buy drugs.

    As an amateur photographer it totally resonated.

    When I googled it to find a link to the image so I could share it here I found a similar sentiment about Magic, the Gathering. YMMV.


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