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Saturday, February 16, 2013

And the 3rd Angel was the Best of Them All

There is an old Yiddish expression, "דער אייבערשטער גרייט אן די רפואה פאר די מכה" - G-d prepares the remedy before He sends the malady. In April of 2010, just before Dovi was diagnosed with autism, one of the biggest special needs organizations in New York established a Respite House. I read the announcement and saw the ad and thought that this was a wonderful thing for special needs families who need respite from the burden of caring for their disabled children. Little did I dream that I would one day be among those grateful parents.

When I went to the first support event, one of the other autism moms mentioned the Respite House to me. I thought it was an incredible entity but did not think it was something I needed; Dovi was a handful, but I wasn't ready to send him away for weekends. But a scant few weeks later my baby sister got engaged, with the wedding slated for February. I knew I had to find somewhere for Dovi to stay for the Shabbos after the wedding, since we would be invited to eat all 3 Shabbos meals and he obviously couldn't come with us as he wouldn't behave. So after Succos was over and life settled down a bit, I began the process of applying for the Respite House.

I called the Respite House and left two messages but got no answer. In desperation I called the cell phone of the director, Cheryl. We had a nice, long conversation about Dovi. I even sent her the video documentary I had put together of his life from the day he was born up til his 3rd birthday - every word he had ever said, and the subsequent loss of skills. At first she was confused how I considered him autistic, until I realized she hadn't seen part 2! She sent me copious paperwork to fill out. As part of the application Dovi had to have a PPD shot, get his immunizations up to speed, and a well visit. That visit to the pediatrician was a nightmare. Drawing blood for Dovi involved 3 people holding him down. I also asked for a PANDAS blood test, which took the manpower of 3 people to get done. Dovi ran out to the waiting room screaming and bleeding. It was an absolute nightmare. The doctor also had to fill out a whole list of OTC medicines that he was permitting Dovi to be given. In short order I sent in the paperwork, and put it out of my head.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

And the Second Angel was Disguised As A Teenager

Continued from the previous post....

The second angel that breezed into my life is someone we're already acquainted with - Estelle, who had inquired about the first Res Hab position but ultimately couldn't take it. I didn't hear from her since then - until she suddenly called me six months later. She heard so much about Dovi and was dying to work with him. However, she worked all day -til 5:30 - and wished she could figure out how to make it work.

I was curious how she heard about Dovi recently. To my surprise, she told me she had heard regards from him through Heidi. The two of them worked on Sundays at the Sunday Respite Program, and Heidi had been raving how cute he was. Thus I reestablished communication with Estelle. She was amazing to talk to. We talked a lot about various therapies, coping with special needs kids, and more. Her family constantly hosted difficult autistic kids and she was very experienced. It was fascinating to talk to her.

At the first support group event, I discovered many resources I had not known about before. The other mothers there told me about the Respite House, run by one of the amazing special needs organizations, where kids can stay overnight and over the weekends. It didn't remotely occur to me to send Dovi there; he was, after all, just a baby. I filed the information in the back of my mind and I hoped I wouldn't need it. The other juicy tidbit I noshed was that there was also a Sunday Respite Program specifically for autistic kids. I had tried to get Dovi into the Clinic's Sunday Respite Program, but it only starts at age 5. The Autism Sunday Respite Program apparently starts at age 3. At the time I did not yet have Res Hab and was losing my mind trying to figure out what to do with Dovi on Sundays. So I called the main office of the agency running the Sunday Program.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

And Behold, Three Angels Came to Visit

Continuing from the previous post...

As my life was falling apart, I realized I had to take control and do something.

First I picked up the phone and called dear, sweet Sandi, who had so kindly provided me with volunteers to the basement the year before. She wracked her brains but could not come up with anyone available during those critical morning-bus and afternoon-bus times. Then she asked me whether I had considered calling J&N Ambulette Service. She had told me about it the year before, but I was hesitant. J&N is a local ambulette service. They transport patients with straight Medicaid and Medicare to doctor's appointments, and they also managed to figure out a (legal) way to transport kids to therapy and special ed programs. (Since Medicaid does pay for some OT, ST, and PT, they are allowed to transport patients to such services, even if Medicaid is not actually paying for the service.) I had hesitated, because I felt very stupid - Dovi's school is located 2 blocks away from home! I wasn't going to 'use' a service when it wasn't really necessary.

But after six months of rushing back and forth with Dovi twice a day, I had to concede that it was very necessary. The service was available, Dovi was entitled to it - why not give it a try?

Hesitantly, I called J&N and explained the situation. I spoke to an extremely wonderful guy there, who took all the particulars and promised to get back to me after he looked into whether he could service Dovi at those times.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Special Needs Children Affect The Entire Family

I've been a blogger since I remember. I started keeping a diary at age 12 and basically never stopped. I had to delete some of my blogs between 2000 and 2005 due to stalking and other issues, and sadly miss those entries. I also lost a typed diary from 1997 to 1999 due to a floppy disk malfunction. other than that, my life is pretty much documented on livejournal and facebook. Sometimes, my candor has led me into trouble; other times, I got tremendous resources, support, and responses to my questions and issues. But the biggest value of blogging for me has been looking back at the archives. I am constantly rendered speechless by how difficult my life was. I am constantly grateful for the good in my life, for the help and respite resources in place to lift the burden somewhat - but of course, getting all these resources in place took a lot of research, hard work and takes constant maintenance.

In any event, looking back at winter of 2011/2012, things continued spiral downward. As the school year progressed, I found myself being squeezed and crushed beyond capacity, with the demands of the different therapists, combined with Dovi's relentless stimming, hyperactivity, escapes from his bed, and pressure from Chaim and my husband as the family struggled to cope with their lives revolving around Dovi's needs, limitations, and destructiveness.

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