Forms and Feelings…


As parents, every year we all have to fill out or update the obligatory forms for our kids to attend school or various extracurricular activities. These forms are generally very standardized; just your name, rank and serial number please…unless you’re an autism parent. Forms take on a whole new meaning for us. We, like you, fill out the generic clinic cards. However, it takes us much longer to list things such as doctors and medications. The “Special Conditions” section can require a “see attached” sheet of paper (or two), and a back-up pen (or two). Another time-consuming portion for us is the “Persons to contact in case of emergency”, because face it, people aren’t vying for THAT position. True Story.

In addition to the basic information, autism parents are required to fill out a litany of other necessary forms. Forms that typical parents never have the displeasure of laying a pen on. I have spent the last 3 hours desperately trying to complete a 13 page form for a 9 a.m. meeting with the social worker at my son’s school. Most parents never even realize that their school HAS a social worker, and heaven forbid they ever be called in to see them. The autism parent, however, spends lots of time with the Social Worker, and the Behavior Specialist…the school Psychologist…oh, and the nurse (not to exclude the teachers, cafeteria workers, or janitors, because they all play a part in my kid’s day). I think most people feel that associating with these folks attaches a stigma, one that makes most parents (of typical kids) cringe. The autism parent feels no such embarrassment, because we know these meetings are not based on our poor parenting skills or what horribly inappropriate thing little Johnny said in class that day. We have lengthy meetings with this group repeatedly throughout the school year. We fill out paperwork and forms a plenty. We autism parents can realistically wallpaper our houses with the procedural safeguards that they are required to issue to us at every single meeting. At my last meeting I asked if I could just keep my one original copy and have them recycle the rest for a lifetime supply of toilet paper at my house.


The forms are of course a necessity to keep our children safe and to troubleshoot any problems, as well as formulate the best educational plan possible. My head knows this. My heart breaks because of it. The magnitude of having to answer “No” to such questions as, “Does your child use a fork to eat solid foods?” about your 9-year-old son who can’t even CHEW food, or, “Does he use the restroom at home independently?” about your 14-year-old who comes out of the bathroom covered from head to toe in his own sh*t every time, is more than just answering “No” to a question. It’s a line by line, page after page reminder and admission of all the things my sons can’t do, now or ever. It’s amazing how quickly I can lose focus on all the wonderful things my boys can do when these forms cause such feelings. It can disarm a warrior mom in one stroke of a pen. So yes, I admit I feel supremely depressed after filling out these types of forms…a shade of blue Crayola has yet to formulate. Will this warrior mom let the forms beat her?? To this question, I unsheathe my pen and once again check…

Box #1  “No – unable.”blue crayon

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