The last few days have been, to be frank, awful. Janey is crying or screaming pretty much every waking moment. I hope she's been happier at school, but she got off the bus crying today. She has a good week last week, which ended the minute the weekend started, but I had hoped the weekdays would be good. They aren't. I've been feeling fairly depressed. The other night, trying not to cry, I sat outside and thought. My first thought was "Nothing would help. There is nothing that would help" But then I thought more, and thought how wrong that is. There is several things that would help. They are things that I can't do alone, but I think they are possible. I thought I'd put them out there, in case anyone from an autism fundraising organization ever by chance reads this. Here is what someone in the trenches, deep in the trenches, wishes you'd spend money on.
1. A well-staffed, well-run, free or very low cost respite center.
2. Emergency help that parents can turn to in a true mental health emergency
3. A free lending library of developmental and sensory toys suitable for kids with autism.
4. Specific instructions on best practices in autism parenting, without a biased leaning toward any certain approach.
5. True year-round schools
6. Recreational activities for children with autism---not once a year Special Olympics, not the occasional party, but affordable and well-taught lessons and fun---swimming lessons, music lessons, dance lessons, art lessons...
7. Education for the general public---maybe a series of documentaries in prime time---that shows the FULL range of autism, not some amazing very high functioning handpicked examples
8. Nights at local restaurants, museums, stores and more for families with autism, where the occasional scream or hand-flap or tantrum will be just part of the jolly background noise
9. Education for classroom aides, who often wind up doing much of the hands-on care of autistic kids at school.
10. Research not into causes or prevention, but into TREATMENT---medications, therapies, diets, etc.
That's my list. Any one of the items would make a different in my life personally, and I think in the lives of many of us out there. Like most parents, I'm not looking for a handout, not looking for money or special treatment. I am looking for help that I desperately need to be able to raise my child. I might write more about each of these wishes in the future, but just listing them for now felt good. Even if none of them will happen, it's better to know there is something that COULD help. Let's challenge every autism organization out there to help---to remember we need help that is hands-on, respite-giving and affordable. Desperately.