Photo from Rome News Tribune
I’ve been holding onto the following post for far too long. I’ve stared at it on the screen, been ready to hit publish, then stopped short time and again.
I’m just not convinced that it makes the point strongly enough. I don’t think that the words adequately convey the intensity, the exigency of the situation. I’m afraid that the post loses something because it focuses on such a miniscule slice of the overwhelming challenges that our military families with autism face. I just don’t know how to get them all in.
But I can’t keep waiting to get it right. Because autism doesn’t wait. Because deployment sure as hell doesn’t wait. And because the families of those who serve our country should not have to wait another day, another hour, another MINUTE for the help that they need for their children.
You hear the words, Your child has autism.
Your world is upside down.
When you finally make it far enough through the haze, you kick into gear.
Where do you begin?
Your pediatrician is likely little to no help.
You start asking questions.
You find people who CAN help.
You educate yourself. You learn everything you possibly can about all of the various interventions, therapies and educational plans that are currently available. You measure and weigh, compare and contrast, hem and haw and make decisions based on what is best for your child.
You piece together a puzzle of therapies. You create and foster a tapestry of support between home and school, public and private. You scrap and save and sacrifice to make it work. You hang on by a thread.
You follow up. You monitor. You evaluate and analyze. You ensure that services are being delivered as promised. You hawk and hover. You prod and pry. Since you don’t have a child who can tell you about their day, you rely on the adults in their world for insight.
You run from office to office, specialist to specialist. You make sure you’re home on time for the speech therapist and the ABA specialist. You push to create a social pragmatics group or to create access to the local sports team.
And through it all, you work to build and nurture your relationship with your sweet baby.
There’s nothing you wouldn’t do.
You facilitate play dates with classmates – hoping upon hope to help your child create a friendship. Just one.
You fill out reams of paperwork, answer thousands of questions. You go from doctor to doctor with your child, searching for the one that might have the answer.
And then you leave. For twelve, thirteen, fourteen months at a time.
You fly to the other side of the world to fight in a war that your child can’t begin to fathom. You’ve been working so hard on helping him find words, but there’s nothing you can create out of ‘More’ or ‘Cookie’ that will help explain war.
You serve your country because you believe it is right. You don’t ask for anything in return.
You wonder what would happen to your baby if something happened to you.
You see, your husband is in the military too. And he is deployed too. This is war. It happens.
Think it’s hard to find a sitter on a Saturday night? It’s time to find one for fourteen months. One who will piece together the puzzle of therapies, create and foster the tapestry of support between home and school, public and private, scrap and save and sacrifice to make it work, hang on by a thread, follow up, monitor, evaluate and analyze, ensure that services are being delivered as promised, hawk and hover, prod and pry, rely on the adults, run from office to office, specialist to specialist, making sure to be home on time for the speech therapist and the ABA specialist, push to create a social pragmatics group or to create access to the local sports team, facilitate play dates with classmates, fill out reams of paperwork, answer thousands of questions, go from doctor to doctor, searching for the one that might have the answer. One who will painstakingly teach him one word at a time. Who will love and nurture your child as you would.
One in eighty-eight military children is on the autism spectrum.
One in eighty-eight.
And while their parents are fighting for our country, many of them are also fighting for access to treatment for their children.
That is simply not OK.
EVERY SINGLE ONE of those children deserves a chance.
Every one of their families has earned our support.
To not do right by our military families is unfathomable.
We must do better than we are doing now.
If we are to survive, it will be by helping one another.
These people are serving our country. I cannot stomach allowing them to fight another war back home.
Please, watch the video below.
Help if you can.
Pass it on to friends.
E-mail it. Post it on Facebook. Put it on your blog. Tweet it. Twit it. Toot it.
I don’t care what you do with it – just get it out there.
Our military families should not have to fight for services for their children. Period.
Please watch the video, then CLICK HERE for more information about how you can help.
This isn’t about politics.
This isn’t about ideology.
This is about kids who need our help.
Please do what you can.