Statistics can be unsettling, but also a way to mobilize. According to Montana ASA, at least 80% of autistic adults between the ages of 18 and 30 live with their parents. The unemployment rate of autistic adults is 81%. In the next ten years, around 500,000 children with autism will become adults. Thousands have been …
Yep, this is what I worry about with our son. What will he do once we are gone. Our idea of having him learn about farming apparently isn’t a new one. Glad to see it has worked for other kids like our son. And if it works for B, I would like to see us reaching out to others and offer them a chance to learn about farming.
VNA adult day services program improves quality of life through innovative activities Basking Ridge, NJ (PRWEB) March 20, 2017 The Adult Day Center at Somerset Hills in Basking Ridge, NJ, has launched a professionally-facilitated horticultural therapy program, expanding the range of innovative and unique enrichment activities offered to its older adult clientele. Nature-based techniques used …
When I was in college — I had enough $ for lunch to get an apple or a milk — that was it. The rest of my money was for gas (I commuted) and bills. My pell grant and student loans covered my tuition and books only. It’s sad to see that 20 years later, it is even worse for the kids.
If this country ever goes under, it will be for needless, egregious hypocrisy.” — Norman Mailer, Harlot’s Ghost
That would be our children, here in the US of A, not some (generic images of a) starving orphan in foreign lands. For a nation that claims to love and protect children, the USA does a pretty damn poor job of showing it. The infant mortality rate in this country is three times that of Sweden, twice that of Germany, and not much better than many nations with a fraction of our resources, like Cuba. Statistically, our literacy rates are among the highest in the world, yet many “American” children don’t read at their grade level. Nor can they write cursive, print, or type proper alphabets, words, sentences, or paragraphs. “Texting” is destroying literacy even as we speak. If we really want to save children in foreign lands, we could start by not bombing them, or undermining their governments, or stealing their resources, or exploiting their labor (farm workers). And the children on “Indian reservations,” and in the hills of Appalachia, or on the streets of Detroit are in just as dire straights (relatively) as the children over-seas.
This article is about what we would like to do on The FARM. Using horses to assist people in overcoming their problems. With this type of equine therapy, no horseback riding is involved. What is equine assisted therapy? Also known as EAT, this therapy involves working with horses and a human therapist, in various horse related activities. Feeding, grooming, and walking a horse (on the ground) may be some of the activities that you will do.
If you are interested in learning more about this unusual therapy, please click thru to find a program near you.
Our 23-year-old son is back home with us. And I am very happy with that. Why? Because he is talking to us again and I know what is going on with him on a daily basis again. But let me back up so you understand why this is so important to me.
You see my son has Asperger’s Syndrome or as my son says – Burger Syndrome 😉 It is a type of high functioning autism. Autism is a spectrum disorder — that means it is different in each person. One person can be like Dustin Hoffman was in Rain Man. Another person can be functional
in the modern world — they appear a little quirky.
There is a lot written about kids with Asperger’s Syndrome. That’s wonderful. But when my son was diagnosed, there wasn’t a lot written. We got the diagnosis from a pediatric neurologist. The doctor suggested we read one book – Tony Attwood – Asperger’s Syndrome: A Guide for Parents and Professionals .
Then I got to tell our school system. And I found out that my son was the first Asperger’s child identified in our local school system. Sigh.
That also meant that my son was identified late. As many of you parents know, who have autistic kids, early identification is critical. Early treatment of autism means that the child has a better chance of benefiting from school because they can understand more of what’s happening around them. (1)
My son wasn’t identified as autistic until the summer between 1st and 2nd grade. That is extremely late for an autism diagnosis. Now I don’t want you to think that I didn’t try to find out what was going on with my son. In fact I had been trying to figure it out since he was a baby.
Finding Child Care was Difficult
I was a full-time working gal when I had my son. Finding infant child care was difficult enough as most child care is for children age 2 and up. But with my son’s behavior, even as an infant, made the task almost impossible. We went through 3 different child care situations before we found one that would work with him.
These child care givers were experienced with infants and with having multiple infants, yet our son gave them fits from the start. He didn’t want to be cuddled, yet he cried when he wasn’t. All the attention had to be on him. He didn’t like music or lots of colors. One of his care-givers gave up and cried with frustration at her inability to care for him. This was an experienced mother with six kids of her own.
Eventually we found a care-giver who was perfect for him. She found that he
was very like her youngest son (who was an adult). And she was able to care for him one on one — no other kids or adults in her house to distract her from caring for him. That was great, and it would’ve continued on but for one thing. I became unable to work due to an illness.
We ended up back in my home state. And my son’s issues continued. I was an extremely inexperienced mother. And the doctors took advantage of that. Not intentionally I don’t think. But when I mentioned
something that my son had done – they said it wasn’t important. And I didn’t have the experience or knowledge to challenge them.
From the age of 3 to 5, I kept talking to my son’s pediatricians about his behavior. We finally got a diagnosis of ADHD and the prescription of Ritalin for him (at age 4).
Ritalin Made a Difference
Before you think I am crazy to have put my child on Ritalin at age 4 — stop. Yes STOP. You see, that wasn’t a word that my son could comprehend until we put him on medication. There was no WHOA to him at all. If he got a notion to open a door and jump off our front porch — he would do that.
Now our front porch at the time was 15 feet off the ground. So you could imagine the possible consequences. There I was constantly running after him and, with my being ill, he was faster than me. I would holler to stop him, and there was not enough “sense” in his head to stop him. Discipline just wasn’t working — wasn’t getting through. There was a wall up preventing the discipline from sinking in.
So we tried the medication. And what a difference! It slowed him down enough for him to develop a whoa. Discipline measures finally started working. I read a lot about ADHD and I thought that it described him somewhat but didn’t explain all of his actions.
He got evaluated by our local school system (a Missouri school system) for their PRE K program. Even with a diagnosis of ADHD, the school system didn’t feel that he had much of a need for their services. He knew his colors and was working on his numbers – so he didn’t need help. My concerns about his socialization issues were downplayed and they offered a placement of only 1 day a week for 3 hours.
We rejected that as we realized by then he needed more interaction time with other kids. So we enrolled him in a local Church program. My son was excited. So much so that when he was told that he couldn’t go until he was potty trained, he trained in one week. He was 4 years old at that time.
Private Pre-school was a Mistake
Well, that was a mistake. Sending a child into a school system where they aren’t experienced with kids who have mental health / behavioral issues is setting the child up for failure. And, unfortunately, Asperger’s Syndrome and ADHD do fall into the mental health arena. You cannot discipline these issues to correct them. Spanking alone won’t fix it. And that was their attitude there, and frankly it was mine as well. Remember, I didn’t know about the autism at that time.
So my son ended up hating going to school before he was even “in school”. We ended up removing him from that program.
Then we moved. My Mom finally retired from her job and we all decided a change of scenery might be the right thing. We decided on Alabama as my brother lived there. So we moved and my son ended up starting Kindergarten in Northern Alabama.
Kindergarten Started on a Good Note
He did really great the first semester of Kindergarten. There were other kids in his class that acted out (really acted out). So his behavior wasn’t unusual. His teacher and the other kids liked him. And he liked going to school.
Then we found the house we wanted to buy. It was located in another town in AL. And we ended up moving there and my son had to move schools. Bad choice.
Our town has a good school system. It’s one of the top ranking schools in the whole state. There are many teachers there that I would’ve liked to have myself when I was in school. However, they were not set up to deal with unique situations.
After we moved, my son’s second semester of Kindergarten was disheartening. He spent most of the semester sitting out in the hallway. His teacher was sweet and kind, but it was her first year of teaching. She didn’t have a clue on how to handle his behavior; I didn’t really have a clue either.
The first evaluation of my son through our new school system showed that my son had a low IQ. This was in addition to his behavioral issues. I knew that my son did not have a low IQ . We discussed the issues with the school and after his behavior continued in 1st grade (he had a more experienced teacher for first grade), we asked for an IEE.
IEE = Independent Educational Evaluation
An IEE is an Independent Educational Evaluation. It involves getting an evaluation done by someone who is NOT connected to the school system. Thus, they may recommend resources that the school does not have. Anyway, the gentleman who did our IEE thought he saw something in my son that hadn’t been diagnosed before. To confirm his suspicions, he referred us to a pediatric neurologist who made the final “a hah” diagnosis of . . . high functioning-autism.
Finally, we had reason for my son’s behavior.
And after reading about autism, I could see that it explained the strange behaviors we had seen. For example, when following a garbage truck, my son loved the “smell” that was coming from the truck. But he would gag when he was close to roses. Apparently, a lot of signals were crossed in my son’s brain.
So now we had a diagnosis. A diagnosis that two pediatricians, two different school system evaluations, and one psychiatrist — had missed. I thought that would be the end of our struggles now that we knew what the issue was. However, I was wrong.
Please see part 2 of this posting for the “rest of the story.”
If you’d like to see a list of Autism Resources for Children please click here.
What problems did you have in getting an autism diagnosis for your child? Did you have any roadblocks along the way? Please leave a comment below. And remember that sharing your story may help those who are just beginning their journey towards a diagnosis.
Sigh, since we announced our decision to sell our house in town and take up farming in another state, we have repeatedly heard, “You must be crazy!” Or we’ve seen people’s eyes roll (you know the look that I mean). Their eyes still are sheepish when I tell them our reasons to start a farm.
Well, of course we are crazy. My husband is 65 and I am a little younger than that. We are not “spring chickens.” For those of you who know us, I have some serious health issues. And our son has his own issues with being a young adult who is also high functioning autistic.
But after much prayer and debate amongst ourselves and with God, we’ve all decided to follow His directive. Or rather I should say, Bill & I are following God’s directive and we are taking our son along.
But why a farm? is what my friends are saying. Well, why not a farm?
Ten Reasons to Start a Farm:
1. Safety — Although farming itself can be a dangerous job, rural areas have a tendency to have less crime.
2. Clean Air — The place where we currently live has decent air quality, but not perfect.
3. Clean Water — The place where we currently live has a lot to desire in water quality before it’s processed. The untreated water ranks 50 out of 100 in quality. Of course, the city water is then treated so it can be drinkable, but you can imagine the amount of chemicals that are required to get it “drinkable”. Our target area in Arkansas has a 54 air quality. And a 87 untreated water quality.
4. Raise Your Own Food –Admittedly you can grow enough food on a small garden plot in town to feed your family. However, where we live (in the city limits), you cannot have livestock on your land without meeting certain restrictions. So you could meet your family’s vegetable needs but have to buy your meat at the store. Thus, defeating the purpose of eating healthier. You know — by knowing where your food is coming from.
5. Regulations Are Less — Have you ever looked at what you can and cannot do on your own land? Here in Alabama, the cities regulate what goes on inside their city limits. Out in the county, it varies by county as to how much regulation is involved. When we were looking in Colorado for land, some counties were just as regulation happy as the city. For example, in Colorado you have to get a well permit to drill a well and your application could take up to a year and then be denied. No water on your own land. You even have to get a permit to build a pond on your own land AND have to get a permit to catch rain off your own roof.
6. Privacy — Do you want to have an outdoor hot-tub? And have a romantic evening alone in it with your husband? Well by living in the country, the only ones you might “scare” would be your cows. Or the nosy deer who just happened to come by.
7. Working out — with the amount of physical work that is involved in farming, you won’t need to pay for a gym membership. 🙂
8. Hunting / Fishing — depending on the size of farm you have, you might be able to hunt on your own land without worrying about getting permission or buying a hunting license. And you can stock your pond with the type of fish you like (and that is appropriate for the pond).
9. Slower Pace — God, nature, and your animals are your bosses now. Although you are busy, your pace of life should be much slower than having to meet your employer’s directive of getting the shelving stocked before 9 AM.
10. Closer to God — On an early spring morning when you are out on your porch drinking a cup of coffee and watching the sunrise — how could you be closer to God? God meant for us to benefit from the fruits of the earth :
Then God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” And God said, “See I have given you every herb that yields seed which is on the face of all the earth, and every tree whose fruit yields seed; to you it shall be for food. Also, to every beast of the earth, to every bird of the air, and to everything that creeps on the earth, in which there is life, I have given every green herb for food; and it was so.”
Long- Winded Wrap Up:
By teaching our adult son with autism to learn to live off the land, we are giving him skills so that he can take care of himself after we are gone. Things that he didn’t learn in the educational system (that’s for another posting). And if we are successful in teaching him these new skills, we’d like to open up The FARM to share with other kids the joys that can be found on a farm.
All things on a farm aren’t related to working.
So what do you, the audience, think of our ideas? Are they completely pie in the sky dreams? Or are they legitimate reasons to start a farm? Do you have any suggestions that would help us in our endeavor?
Thanks for reading so far. Can’t wait to see you — At The FARM.
Still painting the interior of the old house. It has been rainy and cold so that has been slowing down the progress. Bill says he cannot paint when the humidity outside is high.
I have been doing a lot of research on setting up a Ag tourism farm. Apparently our idea of having an accessible farm is not a totally new idea. Here’s a link to 15 of them! We would like it to be a friendly place where kids and adults where kids and adults with developmental disabilities would like to visit and interact with the animals.
We are also planning on teaching our son how to run the FARM. Our son is on the spectrum himself, so this is definitely going to be a learning experience for us all.
Clyde Parker is our local realtor in Arkansas. Hopefully, with his help, we will find the perfect place to plant THE FARM.