Friday, December 20, 2013

Making the world better

After a stressful week, I was bracing myself for what I thought would inevitably be a bad day. I've been spending some late nights stressing over the details of my nonprofit, knowing that I can only do so much as one person, while always wishing that I could do more. I am forever dreaming of how my life would be easier if I could only clone myself, just to help alleviate some of the heavy burdens I bear with my family, as well as the volunteer work that I am so passionate about. I'm not proud to say that at one particularly low, yet fleeting, moment while in my car contemplating the zillions of things tumbling around in my brain, I succumbed to the overwhelming need to cry. It stopped almost as fast as it began, but I guess my body had reached its maximum at that moment and needed to release whatever was pent up inside. Needless to say, I didn't hold any high hopes for the day after that.

Then, it seemed that the proverbial clouds parted. What started out seemingly dreary, turned out to be about as good as any day could have been.

One of the highlights of my day was a meeting I had with one of our nonprofit's partners, which is another local nonprofit. I won't bore you with the details (which I personally find fascinating), but the time we spent was very fruitful, and many ideas were shared, plans were made, and we parted with a renewed commitment to what we are endeavoring to do together.

However, the best part of the entire conversation was how our respective mission statements align in the idea that we are looking to change the way the community, John Q. Public, views special needs. Rather than special needs (like autism and others) marking a difference that separates and ostracizes, wouldn't it be great if special needs were normalized in such a way that the entire community helped to advocate, and in doing so, created an environment of inclusion? We had some discussion about the nuts of bolts of this kind of vision for the future, and it all comes down to thinking about what your dream is.

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What is the big picture? What do you want to accomplish? How are you going to work to make the world better for the thing you are most passionate about?

I left the meeting feeling invigorated, with a renewed sense of purpose. It added fuel to my fire, and my head was spinning with possibilities and inspiration.

Then, many other things fell into place today in just the right way with my schedule and "to do" list, and I ended up being phenomenally productive. It was odd...but I wasn't going to question it. I just wanted to ride the wave of a good day.

When the boys got home, I found out that they both had a decent day at school, that they had finished their schoolwork early (by some apparent miracle) and neither had any homework to do. The best part? They were in good enough moods that they didn't automatically catapult into their usual bickering and fighting mode after they got home. That in and of itself was a moment of relief.

We had an appointment to go to, and due to the timing of it, by the time we had to head back home it put us right in the thick of rush hour when all the commuters are heading home from their jobs in Seattle. If there's one thing you can count on in Seattle, the traffic sucks pretty much all the time. The particular area I had to travel through is known for its slowdowns, so I had no expectations of getting home at a decent time. I have learned to take the back roads, but even they can get backed up. To make matters worse, my tummy was protesting the fact that I hadn't had time to consume any food of substance all day, besides the quick coffee I grabbed after my meeting.

Remembering that I had forgotten to take something out for dinner and that we desperately needed to go to the grocery store, I was overcome with a craving for pizza. I didn't want to scrounge around for something to make for dinner when we got home! I called Titan and tried to tell him in code (so listening little ears wouldn't freak out with excitement...or dismay if plans fell through) that I wanted to meet him for pizza on our way home. Using euphemistic terms, we hatched a sly plan for remedying my hungry stomach. There is one place that is our favorite for gluten-free pizza, and that's where we headed. Luckily, there was no fighting between the boys in the car like usual, so I wasn't a complete stress case when we arrived. Traffic was actually decent, too! I was looking forward to an enjoyable meal with some of my favorite food.

After we sat down and placed our order, Prince Charming started talking. Mind you, he hadn't really conversed since we got to the restaurant.

All of a sudden he said, "Mommy?"
"Yes, sweetheart," I replied.
"I'm going to make the world a better place."

His eyes were really bright and sincere and he gave me the biggest grin, displaying his dimple. I melted on the spot.

It's almost as if he had been reading my thoughts and had been sitting in on my meeting. I don't think it was a coincidence. I think God gives us little moments like these to help us know we are on the right path. It's exactly what I needed.

I have no doubt that my little guy will make a difference in the world, and that the world will be a better place because he is in it. And, I too will try my best to make the world a better place. I'm already working on it. I can only hope that my boys will see the fruits of my labor someday.

What is your passion? What inspires you to make the world a better place?

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Anonymous said...

Hi CAF Im over in Australia, in A small city called Geelong in the State of Victoria. My dream has been for the past 7 years to make the world a better place for those living with Autism and Aspergers. I have managed to achieve some amazing things in particular in the areas of housing and homelessness. I run a consultancy and one of the services that I provide include strategic and business planning and also policy review and creation. Even though im many miles away Id love to assist you in reviewing your plans and policies and providing feed back on how you can streamline your processes and procedures so that you minimise task duplication and don't have to clone yourself. I offer that's assistance free of any cost. I just want to help. My web page is The web page is a bit out dated and will be refreshed in 2014 to include all my skills around policy etc. Have a look and please get in touch. Regards and Merry Christmas. Patrick Caruana

Autism United said...

They do make the world a better place, just by being in it.

Susan said...

Hi, I have an autistic son and we live in a small town in North Florida. We are lucky in that our state provides for autism therapies in school as long as it is a behavior that interrupts academics. My son was diagnosed 7 years ago at the age of 2 with low-functioning, non-verbal autism and sensory sensitivities. After 7 years of therapy and excellent teachers within a top-notch ESE program at our local public school and additional recreational activities, he is more on the mid-high functioning end and is verbal...VERY VERBAL,!

I just wanted to let you know that having a community that involves special needs children is possible. A fellow autism mom and I started a local support group that grew into a HUGE thing (bigger than we planned). We teamed up with our local 4-H and created ASK - Always Support Kids with Autism and Other Developmental Disabilities. ASK provides our kids with enriching activities, a summer camp opportunity, sensory friendly field trips and a ton of support from our local community. It also allows us to raise money to fund all of these wonderful things for our local kids. We hold a local walk, do an art auction (Art Touched by Autism - our kids paint, the community buys), and sell tshirts. We also get a lot of sponsor money from local businesses, organizations and families. To top it off, having a group full of parents has allowed us to hit the school board with many voices demanding inclusion for our children at school. Guess what? We got it! My son is the guinea pig for this experiment. He started learning science in a regular 3rd grade class with neurotypical far he has a B in the class and the teacher is taking classes to learn more about teaching students with autism (in fact, by next year every teacher will be required to take these classes). Next year, we'll bump him up to science and math (his two best subjects, of course).

Anyway, I just wanted to send you a little note to let you know it can be done! We started this journey with our community just a little over 2 years ago and it has really taken off. Good luck to you and your wonderful two!

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