But life did not follow her dream because her autistic son couldn’t tolerate her reading to him.
“Being a first-time mother, I wanted to read books and sit on the couch or in the rocking chair. I could picture myself with my sweet little baby and reading books, pointing to pictures — and he hated books,” she said. “He wouldn’t let me read them to him because he didn’t want to hear the sound.”
She said parenthood did not meet her expectations and she went through a grief cycle.
“Most little girls dream of being a mom and carrying a baby, but he didn’t want to be held. He came out screaming and he didn’t stop for years,” she said.
In her son’s early years, the family was forced to stay home because he would take off running and screaming. One of Dupree’s stress relievers and hobbies was reading and research.
“He loved to go to the bookstore, or any store that had stickers on the items because he wanted to peel every sticker off of every item in the store,” she said. “We had to stop going to bookstores or any stores that had anything with stickers on it.
“We shifted our lives around not to go to bookstores and it was really not a happy time, because I love books,” Dupree said.
Her 14-year-old son has improved and so have Dupree’s coping skills. She is using her master’s degree in education to run an autism and special needs support group called Mothers Moving Mountains.
Dupree is just one example of parents of autistic children at the 2012 Southeastern Autism Symposium titled “Diamonds Are Forever … So Is Autism: Individuals on the Spectrum: From Rough Cut to Precious Gem.”
In line with that concept, Emily Stone titled her workshop, “A Product of Brilliance in Color, Cut and Clarity.”
Families are under pressure whether or not they are affected by autism and the topic of her discussion was the possibilities that come from pressure.
“I don’t pretend to be an expert on your life because everyone is different and families are different,” she said Thursday afternoon in the Helen DeVos School of Education building at Lee University. “Families are amazing on how they adapt, they’re flexible, they go through hardships and there is something amazing about the way they work.”
Stone focuses her local practice on the unique relational needs of adults, children, adolescents, and their families. She has worked with individuals, couples, and families with situations involving grief, terminal illness, stress, depression, anxiety, substance abuse, personality disorders, eating disorders, and life’s normal transitions such as leaving home, college life, marriage, birthing children and death.
“This is one of my favorite quotes: ‘The value of a marriage is not that adults produce children, but that children produce adults.’”
She said the idea is not that people get married and reproduce. There is something about the pressure of raising children that in some ways raises parents and produces who they are as adults.
Dr. David Schnarch is a licensed clinical psychologist, world-renowned sex and marital therapist, and international best-selling author who developed the Crucible Theory, which states that every relationship is like a crucible.
A crucible is a container in which metals and glass are purified and refined under pressure and heat.
“There is usually no other relationship beyond the family unit and even couples’ relationships that get any hotter or under more pressure because we are close enough to care, get very hot and experience pressure. Relationships cannot avoid conflict. It’s going to happen.”
When family relationships involve a child with autism, those relationships can become very intense. But one of the positive outcomes of intense heat and pressure is a diamond. A negative outcome is when adults revert to child-like behavior such as slamming doors, silence, or storming out of rooms. None of those actions lead to the brilliance of a diamond.
“The key to growing in a relationship — to have the relationship grow you as a person — is being able to stay present while withstanding the heat,” she said. “One of the most important things about staying present is, in part, to parent yourself.”
She asserts that being an adult is being a person who is one’s own mother or father and one of the most important actions a person can take in a relationship is to parent his or herself physically, socially and spiritually.
Stone’s passion is her desire to see individuals find healing in relationships with others, with God and their own self. When these three areas of relationships are on a journey toward hope and healing, peace and joy are the result.
Stone is married and the mother of three children and is soon expecting her fourth child. She is trained and educated to do premarital and marriage counseling. She has a bachelor’s in psychology, a masters of divinity, and an MA in marriage, family, and child counseling.