Moms and Unpredictability

Julie Coulter Fall.jpg
By Julie Coulter

Years ago, I was driving our minivan west on Georgia Route 316 towards the orthodontist's office in Duluth with the kids in the back seats when I heard my son, Drew, say, “Mom, I have a gum wrapper stuck up my nose.” Staying focused on keeping the car on the road, I calmly said, “Can you try and blow your nose and see if it will come out?” You see, Drew had braces on his teeth at the time and couldn’t chew gum. Someone had left a gum wrapper in the little cup holder in the very back of the van. Since he was very observant and had noticed it and since he couldn’t chew gum, he said he just wanted to “smell it.” So he had held the little rolled up wrapper up to his nose and...

We didn’t learn how to deal with this in those weeks of childbirth classes prior to Drew’s birth. We didn’t learn a lot of what we would need to raise children. Maybe the fact that we missed the last childbirth class because we were in the birthing room that day when Drew arrived ten days early should have been a clue that life was about to lose predictability. We certainly didn’t learn about life with a child on the autism spectrum.

During the last year, Dan and I have had the wonderful opportunity of meeting families who live everyday with children and young adults on the autism spectrum, while producing our videos for the siblings of those on the autism spectrum and with Asperger Syndrome. In most of the interviews, Dan ran the camera and I was the interviewer, talking to the parents and children who have family members on the autism spectrum. Many times, I found myself fighting back tears in listening to the mothers tell about how they have learned to support their children, work with school teachers and officials, teach themselves how to parent a child with special needs, and cope with a life that came as a series of surprises. I listened to their stories of hard-earned achievement and triumph as their children learned new things and made steps forward.

One thing is predictable in the world of the autism community: watching our unpredictable children succeed in their attempts to learn to deal with unpredictable daily living makes us very proud.

Oh, yeah, about the gum wrapper. You will be relieved to know that our 23 year old son is not walking around with a gum wrapper up his nose. My advice doesn’t always work, but that day, it did. Drew blew out the wrapper. Some days, he and I handle the unpredictable very well. Some days, we struggle.

Doing these interviews reminded me what a tremendous resource mothers can be for each other. I am so very thankful for the chance to learn from others how they handle their unpredictable days. When we need support or advice, it helps to remind ourselves that we can turn to family, friends, professionals, and especially, to others like ourselves.

We are not alone.

Happy Mother’s Day!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR - Julie Coulter is the co-producer of the Intricate Minds series of videos that help classmates understand and accept students who have Asperger Syndrome and autism. You can find more articles at her website at

Copyright 2007 Julie Coulter All Rights Reserved. Used by Permission.

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