Sunday, January 31, 2010

The Magic Paintbrush Project

I am not sure my brother in law would be interested in this, but he does like to go to the mall...and our local mall features something - dare I say magical.... the Magic Paintbrush project.

This started out as one family trying to find something for their two children, both who had mild cerebral palsy.  Why sometimes families fail and sometimes succeed beyond their wildest dreams to get something going is beyond me, but this has grown way beyond what anybody could have imagined.

I haven't had direct contact with the project, but did attend a First Friday event in their honor, and saw some of the artwork created by the participants. 

They also have a fan site on Facebook.

I encourage you to read about this project at their website.  I wish there was something like this where brother in law lives.  His world  has such a narrow focus right now and he isn't especially interested in the arts. But he does work with his hands so....who knows.

And, oh yes.  Art is available for sale.  Proceeds go to buy more help more local families.

These are a Few of His Favorite Things

So what does my brother in law like to do?

First, he loves to get out and walk around in his local mall.  What is important is that he has an exact meeting time.  He will meet you back at a certain time-and you had better be there when you say you are going to be.

He loves to read.  And to shop at Barnes and Nobles.  I would say that recently, it has surpassed CVS as his favorite place to be.

What does he like to read?  Science books.  He loves the weather (except thunderstorms, which absolutely terrify him.)  Quiz type books.  And, thrillers and horror stories. 

There used to be a CVS in his local mall, and he would go there to buy chocolate.  If he knew his mother (who he lives with) was going to have company, he would buy a chocolate thing of some sort she could serve her guests.  But CVS closed the store, and for whatever reason my brother in law has now chosen Wal-Mart for a lot of his shopping.

When he is home, my brother in law stays in his room almost all of the time, reading, listening to music, or watching TV.  He has cable, and loves to watch science shows and The Weather Channel.
He will come up for meals.   And when we come to visit, he will come up and maybe say a word or two to his brother, my husband.  And then will disappear until dinner.  He'll eat, disappear again, and show up when he hears dessert ready to be served.

He loves the New York Mets and the ARC, who does his Medicaid Service Coordination, has outings to baseball games, but so far he hasn't taken advantage of those.  Or any other outings, for that matter. 

Some may say his is a narrow life, but that is the choice he has made.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Dedicated to the one I admit I ....don't always love

I am dedicating this blog to the "previous generations", who grew up before what many consider as an epidemic of autism.

First, what is autism?  Even trying to explain autism can cause some controversies.  There are those who consider it a disability and seek a cure for their loved ones.  Others consider it as a difference, with the disabilities belonging to society as a whole and their attitudes.  I don't want to debate this. 

But one thing that is true is that autism is a "spectrum disorder".  This simply means that there is a wide variation in how individuals with autism and related disorders "present".  So when I write about my brother in law, please keep this in mind.

I even have to keep it in mind when I relate to another person on the spectrum who is a frequent guest in my house.  This young man (my son's friend) and my brother in law may have a similar "label" but they are very different.  Sometimes, I wish my brother in law could have received the early intervention available today....he could have had a different life like this young man will have....but we can not dwell in the past.  This is the earliest lesson autism taught me.  There have been other lessons, and more will come.

I hope the name of this blog, and its description, describes what I will try to accomplish with this blog.

And now, what am I not trying to accomplish with this blog?

Well....I am not here to debate:
-if there really is an "epidemic" of autism.  Or what caused it (vaccines, etc.)
-if autism is something to be "cured", or a "difference".  

However, I am going to touch on matters because they have and are touching my brother in law's life.  What about employment?  Living arrangements?  Recreation?  And even relationships with the opposite sex?  If you read about what I am doing, and disagree, please feel free to comment.  But do not attack me.  Or, my brother in law.  He can't defend himself well.  But I can.

One thing I must admit, I almost didn't write this blog.  There are blogs dealing with autism that are absolutely filled with hatred and anger.  I will not name them.  I will not put them on my blogroll.  I do not want to go down that path, and if I find I am being attacked online, I will stop the blog.  Life is too short, and I have my own health issues to deal with.  I hope I don't have to stop writing, and that I can tell this special story.

And finally, why did I dedicate this to the one I admit I don't always love?

Well.....and maybe this is the first admission I will make that will get me attacked.  (do I seem a bit defensive here?)  I don't always like my brother in law.  It is very hard to communicate with him.  And I am, by nature, a shy and reserved person.  Being with him can be frustrating, to say the least.  I may not always love him.

But I will fight, to the death, for his right to live with dignity and full potential.