The Freedom of Choice is a People Thing

If our situation in life is not what we want, most of the time we can do something about it. We can change jobs, change houses, change relationships, change our diet, change our attitudes. It is a freedom of mankind.
One of the fringe benefits of our customizable lives is the ability to decide if we want a pet. These pets bring something into our lives that can be of minimal impact or can be instrumental to our wellbeing.
Our pets do not have the freedom of mankind to draw upon. They cannot decide to change their jobs, houses, relationships, diets, or attitudes. Most of the time they have phenomenal attitudes and if there are any behavioral issues, it is the result of being treated poorly.
Every dog, cat, horse, guinea pig, goldfish, and bearded lizard that is born into the pet world is completely dependent on the decisions of its owner. They have no power. No say in any decisions.
That is why I am so glad that we have organizations that look out for these animals. Organizations that get laws passed to protect them so that abused animals can be removed from their environment.
People in bad situations, ones where they are degraded or not appreciated will say they feel like they are being treated like a dog, like an animal.
No person should ever feel like that. And if that is worth saying, it is also worth saying that no animal should feel that way either.
I am supporting my local humane society this month to show my appreciation for what they do. Will you do the same with me? Every dog collar, every can of kitten formula, every dollar is more than doing nothing.
Do you have a different cause that is important to you or have you made a Humane Society donation recently? I would love to hear what other people are doing in this world of ours.
To check out the Humane Society where I live go to Humane Society of Pulaski County. They do really great work.

From,
Rachel

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I Will See You

Runnings errands with two small children is no easy feat. When Ash was a baby it was easier. He stayed in the carseat the whole time, even inside the store.

Once two mobile entities come into play, it gets harder. They do not bolt in the same direction.

Add Tyler’s autism into the mix and going out alone with them becomes a mythological trial of Hercules.

So for a long time I was trapped at home with the boys. Need groceries…gonna have to wait for the hubs to get home from work. Bored…get used to it. See Facebook pictures of families at pools or at restaurants…how alien and strange.

Recently I decided I was getting out of the house again. Fast food places with playgrounds and pet stores are frequent haunts for us.

If I am either super brave or super desperate, like today, we go to the grocery store and pray one of those special car carts are available. It seats two in the car part.

As we were leaving I was politely trying to explain to the cashier that I couldn’t listen to all the instructions for surveys and double points on gas because the boys were more than ready to go.

I look over at Ash and he is bolting for the front door. I call him to no avail, so I go straight into a run and catch him as he is leaving the store right into the busy parking lot. I was terrified. I barely caught him in time.

I go back for Tyler and the groceries and the whole store watches as I struggle out of the store with two small children and a cart that won’t turn.

I was angry everyone watched. I was angry no one offered to help. I was angry the cashier thought it would be a good idea to give me a five minute long speech when I was obviously struggling to control two small children.

As I got into my seat and started my car. A lady with a baby had walked up to the car next to ours. When my engine started, she looked over her shoulder and gave me a really nasty look.

A look I recognized.

So I waited until her baby was secure in her carseat and the lady had moved to the back of the car to unload her groceries. Even though there had been plenty of room for me to leave before then.

But even though it has been four years, and my current grocery store hurdles look very different, I still remember going with just the one baby. At the time, that wasn’t easy.

I almost didn’t even notice her. Our lives are so hectic and filled with struggles, that seeing moments that we can respond to is really hard.

It was so easy to wait for this lady to safely secure her baby girl before pulling away. How many of these moments am I blind to?

I read a Facebook post about the importance of caring about your community and country. Investing and sacrificing for your neighbors can turn a broken place into one of growth and strength.

That is what I want my autism advocacy to do. We have no grants we have applied for. We have not asked for any assistance or free services. I am not raising money and support for Tyler.

I am doing it for our community and our children. No family should have to raise a special needs child without professional guidance. No family should be broken by this. No child should feel broken. No community can be strong without understanding its children and the needs of their neighbors. No person is whole unless they understand the people around them.

People don’t understand autism. They don’t understand Spina Bifida. They don’t understand Down Syndrome. We see children with cancer and birth defects and disorders and we see an object of sympathy. We don’t see people. We don’t see a forming adult. We don’t see their potential…just their ticking clock.

I do it. I see a clock and a broken family. I am wrong.

I dream of a better world and of a stronger community. A proud community. And that community is one where you can take your baby and your kids out of your house and into that community.

One hard to see moment at a time is what it is going to take. I commit to opening my eyes. Will you do this with me?

From my heart,
Rachel

http://www.walknowforautismspeaks.org/arkansas/rflinchum for another hard to see moment

(C) Rachel Flinchum 8/24/2013

My Perpetual Fantasy

All of us have a cause that speaks to our hearts. We envision a better world, a safer world, a happier world. That cause emboldens us and enlivens us. Many times however, the reality of the situation kicks in. You realize how hard it is to change the world, the system, or the culture.

There are some of us who cannot afford to live in this reality. The ones using their cause to recover from tragedy. The ones using their cause to to recover from addiction. And the ones using their cause to fight for their children.

We live in a world of perpetual fantasy. We cannot afford to believe that what we hope and ache for will not become a reality. We cannot afford to let the dream die, because with that death we lose our light, our freedom, our children’s happiness.

We believe the door will open when we make that next phone call, or blog post, or Facebook status. When it doesn’t, we believe the door will open when we make the next phone call, or blog, or Facebook status.

No insurance coverage…call again next week. No more therapy slots…call again next week. No answers…find different questions. No hugs from your son…try again tomorrow.

To give up means you stop believing you can live on after the loss of a child, or to live free from drugs, or to accept that your child will live trapped in their own body.

I cannot afford to let the autism epidemic in the US to continue to remain the silent struggle that it is. I cannot afford to continue to watch my son suffer from lack of insurance, school funding, social misconceptions, and waiting periods.

So I continue to blog, and Facebook, and ask for donations. I have no fear of rejection. Rejection has no power over me now.

I will live in my perpetual fantasy of a world where Tyler has an autistic personality instead of an autistic disorder. Where alternate mind-styles are valued and where physicians, schools, insurance companies, and his classmates see him for the valuable asset he is to our community as opposed to a burden.

I see him telling stories and asking me why the sky is blue. I see him sneaking out at night to be with his friends. I see him enjoying concerts. I see him married and as a father.

I will never give up my fantasy. I will never settle for less than what I can get for him and from him.

I will never stop believing that you will join my cause. I need you, Tyler needs you, families like mine need you. This is our world and only we can make it better.

Come live in my fantasy and help it connect with reality a little more. Find a new way to reach out and touch the world. Tyler will be learning to do that every day for the rest of his life. Let’s answer back.

Support our family and others by donating to my Walk Now for Autism Speaks 5K Walk Fund by going to http://www.walknowforautismspeaks.org/arkansas/rflinchum.

From my heart,
Rachel

(C) Rachel Flinchum 7/9/2013

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