When I joined Reach for a Difference. (www.reachforadifference.org) I had no idea what to expect. I suddenly found a group of people who might actually appreciate and respect my ideas and thoughts. I suddenly found myself on the fast track to being an action board member. I had ideas and plans that made them excited to have me there. I looked forward to our monthly meetings. I had a few proposals that I am proud of. A city wide child find event to help local families pinpoint needs and services for their children, a dads group for the men to bond and talk about the ASD life and I provided a great guest speaker for one of our meetings. I felt accomplished.
At the end of last year I was reading via email of a facility that did riding for those is special needs and disabilities. A friend of mine was doing this for her son so I wanted to check it out. I was never able to actually see anything since H wouldn't work with me so finally when our EFMP (Exceptional Family Members Program) hosted an event there I was all over it. That is when we knew riding would be for H. Chris and I got super involved as did Sean. I am now on the board there and helping promote the facility and all it has to offer. I have a lot of support from the folks out there in what I am doing so to know this helps motivate me even more. It might be a million degrees outside but taking my son up there for his sessions once a week is something I won't pass up. I say it builds character ha ha!
After meeting so many friends who had children on the spectrum I came up with an idea to present to them one evening and the Spectrum Connection came to be. It is a FB page set up to help local West Texas families connect, share, get information and set up play dates. It lulled out for a bit but this week I have decided to do my best to bring it back to life. Why? You will see as you read on.
In April due to my acceleration with school, being on the deans list and now the presidents list, along with my interactions at work and in the community I was awarded Employee of the Quarter for the 7th Bomb Wing. It was a huge deal to me. It has set the bar a bit higher for me and made me set goals that I may not make right away but I hope to. Will I still be hard on myself if I don't reach these goals? Of course I will I know I can do it so I should not settle for anything less.
Just recently we battled some issues which I have discussed enough so I won't bore with those details. That also had me put things on the back burner for a while. I was starting to feel down on myself and not happy that I have let things slip. I emailed our CEO with Reach and said we should set up a meeting because I need to get things rolling again. The next day I just happened to stumble across something on a page I belong to on FB and ideas started sparking left and right. With the loss of some crucial programs that help military families once/twice a month a lot of people were feeling the pressure escpecially those who have special needs children and are seeking respite care while their spouse is TDY, Deployed or on a remote tour. Even those who have their spouse home and just need that break and meet other parents. I thought about the support group I had for those who had children with ASD. We haven't utilized it as much as we should have and now is the time to strike while the iron is hot.
I decided to take a deep breath and email our base commander and ask him why we couldn't offer some sort of play group/ respite care to these military families that so needed it. I posted on the spouse pages about what our group was and who would be interested in getting together. I knew there are so many families searching for a place they can go to meet others and just feel like no one is judging.
As I posted I was shocked at some of these responses. Some were very encouraging a few left me shaking my head wondering why people can't just be happy. I was given grief when I was told that this was just opened to spectrum families since it was for our group etc. I encouraged other families to do the same. I was told I was discriminating. I am not sure how so since I wouldn't want to take my child to a playgroup with cancer patients, Downs or CP. Not that I don't think they are not good enough but because my child has none of those and it makes no sense. I want to be around other families who know what I am going through. I was starting to actually feel more powerful because the people who stood behind me really made it known and wanted to support me and help me. Fantastic!
I emailed the commander and said a special needs respite/ play group would be great but I would want other families to step up to help promote this but for now since Autism is a prevalent disability at this base it would be ideal to hone in on this and do what we can to get the ball rolling. I was ecstatic to see the response. I had those nay sayers telling me he will laugh at me and tell me with the state of our budget this would not happen. I was told that he would tell me to go off on my own and do this. However the response I got shocked many including myself!
So this is now my motivation and my drive to do this. Several higher ups had this email sent to them, they are now looking into ways to make this possible. I am hopeful and encouraged to help these families. I am looking at talking with a few people on what it would actually take to launch this program and how soon it would be able to launch.
To those who doubted me I am not going to let you get me down. I am strong and I am a fighter. I will do what I can do make a difference and to help others. I feel its what I need to do since so many have come forward to help us. Some times taking a stand and voicing your ideas is all it takes to make that small rippled that can make a very large effect.