Susan's Blog

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Joy Loves Company

Community is a funny thing. Tonight I went to a special Town Meeting, with only two warrant articles, both about a very slight tax increase. I was amazed and heartened by the fact that we had a quorum and then some, on this late day in August, when my town is mostly only haunted by families like mine who neglected to make end-of-summer plans, or overly-excited and lost college students. Yet, enough Town Meeting Members turned out to vote on this prickly question, considering the economy: whether to increase by .75% our meals tax, which would result in an annual increase to our town budget of about $800,000. But my town, I’m proud to say, has a strong sense of community, of doing what we need to maintain the services, pensions, healthcare plans, building renovations.

The vote was a slam-dunk, 166-6. Democracy in action; one opponent even spoke against, and everyone just listened — although I smirked a little at his incredibly weak argument. Anyway, I was pleased to share values with the majority of neighbors.

This morning, another encounter with community. I met with the man whom I mentioned in a previous post, who is putting together a group home in the next few years. He was able to explain to me so much more of what I need to know to seek out services for Nat. I must apply for his Section 8 voucher now, for instance. But I also must plan a future without that money, also. How is it all done? I’m finding out, bit-by-bit. But one thing that is clear: the more families you get to know that are like yours, the more successful you will be. You learn this as a young autism parent, when you are first beginning your journey into Special Needs Land. Who is it, but the other parents you meet, that help you get through it, that show you the ropes? The older parents show you an idea of the future; the younger parents let you in on the latest therapies, schools, and favored specialists.

We all need each other. It’s the only way. We are not islands. We are social beings. It is human nature to want to do good. I saw that tonight, at Town Meeting. I see it at Special Olympics, where people volunteer year after year simply to help a kid compete in a sport. No matter what you need, it’s always better to share the work, share the pain, and with others, to celebrate the victories.


I thought about you and Nat as I filled out the latest Autism Society survey. We have tons for the little guys like mine here, but I have no idea what supports are in place for the adult autistics. I decided to start making noise about it now, so that when we need it 12 years from now, it's there. Good for your community. Having a special needs child has definitely altered my political belief system, that's for sure.

— added by ASDmomNC on Thursday, August 27, 2009 at 8:56 am

I know what you mean, ASDMom. And now I'm thinking this would make a good third book. You heard it first here.

— added by Susan Senator on Thursday, August 27, 2009 at 9:04 am

Very nice Susan,

Although your last paragraph was not directed at me I am going to take it and pretend that it was. I have volunteered for the last 10 years in sports. I have found that the more you raise your hand to help out it easily draws attention from those displeased with their kids performance, the cost or whatever other baggage they might have. You start to volunteer for the sake of being helpful and to make a difference, but for the 5 kids that have appreciated the sacrifice there are 500 drop and run parents who resent that they are not involved. You are right – we are not islands, and I need to be reminded that I cannot expect that I can boil the ocean, that there is good being done here.

— added by Anonymous on Thursday, August 27, 2009 at 12:39 pm

Hi Susan,
I have just returned home from the Asia Pacific Autism Conference in Sydney Australia. I have to say that I was blown away by how close knit the 'Autism Community' is. Adults with ASD, parents, allied health, teachers, scientists, service providers and famous authors all hanging out together and all listening to each other's stories and ideas.
I hope that it is a sign that the people with ASD and their families are moving toward being more respected by and connected to the very processes that are supposed to be assisting them. There was a lot of talk about how families are exhausted and overwhelmed by the 'lived experience' of ASD and what we can do to change that situation. Let's hope the talk turns into action some time soon!

— added by Sue on Friday, August 28, 2009 at 3:48 am