Autism and Dementia: Christmas Memories of my mother

When my daughter was born, we did not know yet that my mother would soon be sliding down into dementia.  Around the time that my daughter lost her speech and the word “AUTISM” became a regular part of the family vocabulary, we began to notice that Mom’s cognitive skills were also in decline.  Both responded to music; both had unexplained anxieties; both were thrilled with the small traditions of Christmas, like the singing moose Santa we brought out every year.  Near the end of her life, almost any word would summon forth, from the thinnest of remaining memories, a song.

This short piece is a response to a fellow blogger who offered a “Christmas Contest” for memories of mother in 100 words.  As I find it difficult to remember my mother with any objectivity, I decided to write my answer and this is it.

7 thoughts on “Autism and Dementia: Christmas Memories of my mother

  1. There’s a wonderful, touching balance between your mother’s and daughter’s struggles with dementia and autism, followed by the successes of “singing moose Santa.”
    Have you read Jodi Picoult’s book, SING ME HOME, which is rich with music’s healing abilities woven through the struggles and losses?

    Your “Autism and Dementia: Christmas Memories of My Mother” is entered in the contest. Thank you for sharing this.

  2. My mother died from complications brought on by Alzheimer’s. My daughter died after only five hours of life. These two events occurred almost 20 years apart- the first 29 years ago, the second 10 years ago. They both color who I am today. I can not imagine what you have gone/ are still going through except by putting it into context with my own life. I hope you can find some joy through the struggle of dealing with your child’s autism.

    • It has been a struggle, I am the first to admit. But, now with age comes patience and I am more able to really see the joy in every moment of life. I’ve always been the glass-half-full sort even if I appear serious about the world to others. Perhaps writing about the serious stuff also helps me be less serious and more joyful on the outside. Thank you for your hopeful thoughts.

  3. I love Marylin’s contest on Christmas Memories because it has connected me with some very special people and enabled me to read some of their really personal thoughts. Thank you so much for sharing…life is definitely a difficult journey…and sometimes, just when we think we are coasting down a smooth road, we hit a rock…sometimes a boulder…and fall and need to pick ourselves up (again) and find a way around or over. It sounds like you have had several boulders…but I love your glass half-full attitude. I’m on the same page and try to find the positive in every situation. I’ll be following you…hope you check out my blog also:

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