No football savvy necessary to appreciate why the fifty-yard line is an apt metaphor for parents of children with autism. Sitting on that figurative fifty-yard line means, give serious thought to how you balance your rights and your responsibilities as caregiver and advocate. We all know the various extremes. In this corner—the fist-pounder! She knows her rights and by golly, she’s gonna get every last one of ’em! And in this corner—the martyr! She takes on not only her own rightful job, but stoically picks up the slack for everyone else who doesn’t. And in yet another corner—the shirker! It’s somebody else’s job to fix his or her child—the schools, the doctors, the spouse, the boss or co-workers—because he or she can’t, and besides, has “other things to do.”
There’s a reason why seats on the fifty-yard line are the most desirable—because that’s the best place from which to view both sides of the game. In a perfect world, everyone would do their jobs at optimal levels, supported by limitless funding. But such is not the human condition. People will fall short and disappoint, and one of those people might even, at times, be you. Pick and choose the demands you make of others, of yourself and of your child wisely and with an eye for balance and for what is reasonable. And when you come to those inevitable crossroads where balance and reason are not present—turn in that ticket for a better seat.