I recently read a blog post about swimming with dolphins as a healing for autism and I was reminded of my early efforts to help Lily with her problems.
When Lily was 4 or 5 she had a 2 week spring vacation from school and I rented a condo in the Florida Keys. The condo came with a pool which we both thoroughly enjoyed. A friend came with me for the flight and the first week and my sister-in-law joined us.
I had read about this place near Marathon that had a “swim with the dolphins” program for children with disabilities so we drove down to check it out. The dolphins were in pens but the pens were connected to the open ocean so it seemed as though they could leave at any time. They could certainly jump over the net if they felt like it; however, there was a plentiful supply of fish at the dock and some little people who might have been interesting to the dolphins, (who knows what dolphins think…) so they stayed and played.
Lily was only interested in the playground dolphins made of cement that were located near the entrance under some trees in the shade. When we took her out onto the dock, she squinted and cried; I think the bright tropical sun on the water was too much for her.
I watched as other children, one with “Down’s Syndrome” and one with a wheelchair, swam with dolphins in one of the natural pens. The children really seemed to enjoy the contact and the dolphins did not seem to mind either. My thoughts were that even if the children were not “cured” of their disabilities, they seemed to be having a rewarding experience and I wished that Lily could have participated on some level.
Later in the vacation, my husband joined us and we went to a small sea life park where you could touch the dolphins in a tank which was located in the shade. Lily did touch them and some other things at the park drew her attention as well.
I experimented with many “cures” during Lily’s childhood, some actually helpful and some snake oil. I always avoided those methods that carried serious risk. The desperation that parents feel when their babies have been stolen from them, the urge to do anything that might have some small effect to bring their children back, is hard to describe to the non-parent. It is similar to bribing your way into Hades and trying not to look back while you are leading your child back to the surface. Your child has essentially died and been replaced by a shade. You will do almost anything to bring her back to life.
I wish I could say that I am beyond all that anguish and that I am fully accepting of our situation. While it is true that I am fully accepting of Lily as she is and love her completely unconditionally, it is also true that I still want to tweak everything to make things easier and better for her. I am always reading the scientific literature, waiting for the discovery, for the cure, for the magical cure.