Saturday, October 12, 2013
The world outside the window...
For typical families there are endless possibilities, sports, parks, movies, etc. But for families of those who have autism, the kind that isn't rich and famous, -- what is there outside their home? What endless possibilities are out there for them to safely participate in? What recreation for them while at the same time respite for the parents?
Today, Brandon was looking out the window, wanting to go somewhere. He can't ride a bike down his street. He has no friends to go hang out with. It's challenging to go to most parks because they are so open. I would need three of me to be able to hand off the baton to in a relay of endless chasing and following to keep him in my sight and within arms reach should he bolt. Yet he wants to go, do, be. Though he is far from "typical" -- his energy level far surpasses typical. He needs a place to go where it's safe for him to go. A fenced in playground where I can sit at the gate and let him just roam freely. A respite program at a gym or recreation center where they can just run and play while the parents can go do errands, go out to dinner.
It breaks my heart to see my son so want to be out and about - yet for him there are few to no opportunities for that. There is such a great need. So very many just like Brandon who are looking out that window on a weekend wondering when they can do what they see others do. A place to go that is not their house, where perhaps there are some fresh hands and feet to chase them, tickle them, talk to them. A High School allowing parents to take their children to the track on a weekend. Those are usually always fenced in. Yet locked. A church that's empty on a Saturday is a great place for recreation - especially those that also have fenced in playgrounds. Too much liability I guess. Parks that see the need for a totally fenced in area where tired mothers can sit by the exit and energetic young adults run around. Too expensive I'm sure.
I long for when our communities will unlock opportunities for Brandon and all his friends. For when they will simply see them as someone to love, not a liability. For when everyone will see them as an investment, not an expense.
In the meantime, we do what we can. Today a drive with Dad to get the car washed... Other times we've gone to Galveston for day trips, often, we do errands. But what teenager likes to go on errands with their parents? Not many. I'm sure Brandon feels the same way. It's always us though. We live autism 24/7. It would be nice for Brandon to have a place to go outside of his home. It would be nice for us to have someone else provide some recreation for him while we do our errands, have but a moment to ourselves.
Parents of children, youth, and adults who have autism are tired. We are getting older and slower and worn down. We need help. Recreation programs for our children is respite for us. Our children have typical energy levels, yet no recreation programs suited for them.
So we wait.
Like Brandon at the window.
For our communities and churches to come together in providing opportunities for those in the autism and disability community to get to experience the world outside their windows.