Flying Again

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Only 500 miles this time. Tennessee. Last night Will told us that he would be flying to Tennessee for a business meeting next week.

Two years ago, he told us that he was going to fly to California for training. For  a Week. Will had never flown on a commercial jet. And he went alone. (http://annkilter.com/2012/08/20/to-california-and-back-again/). That round trip involved six different planes, a train, and a shuttle bus. I found out later that he made all the reservations himself. I have never flown in a jet either, so I was of little help.

It’s been two years since his last flight. This time, i tell myself I’ll worry less. This time, he’ll be more comfortable, having been through it once. This time, there are no layovers. He’ll be renting a car this time. (Maybe that will convince him to get a newer car ;) ). I’ll still be praying. :)

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Hope

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This building looks like hope to me.

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After I dropped Mary off for her class last Wednesday, I sat in my car and watched some of her classmates go in. The rear door of the van near the door popped open, a ramp was lowered by an unseen force, and a motorized wheelchair  appeared, the operator quickly making progress toward the entrance. Another young woman got off the Go Bus, and with her white cane walked to the door. Adults of all ages filed in, some with walkers, some with canes, and some with no visible signs of disability. Although I have always said that no one would know that Mary had a disability until she starts talking.

All of these adults have a substantial, documented disability. All of them also had to pass a series of aptitude tests and an interview to get into the program. All of them had to have an extended period of looking for work with no success. They are taking a course for some sort of computer certification. At the end of the course, they will have to take a certification test. If they pass, they will then interview for work at a help desk for a call center operated by a government contractor.

The government contractor hires people with disabilities. It may be required to do so, and there are probably substantial incentives.

In this state, there are incentives for private employers to give people with disabilities a chance. For a period of time, a substantial portion of their wages is paid by the state. Yet, the unemployment rate for intelligent adults with disabilities is very high. Many times the rate of unemployment for the general population.

They want to work. They want to have purpose, to be independent, to make their own money. So the government has stepped in to provide both training and an opportunity for them.

This week, they will begin building a computer from scratch. I have suggested to Mary that she take one of her old computers, open it up and study the parts in three dimensions. She does the home work. She knows what it takes to pass a class.

This group had to be extra patient, as the teacher who was supposed to teach them left for another job. They had to wait another three months to get in. Some of them won’t make it, but they have hope.

And hope is a precious thing.

 

“Hope” is the thing with feathers –

That perches in the soul -

And sings the tune without the words -
And never stops – at all -” Emily Dickinsin

I’ve Reconsidered

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In fact, I’ve changed my mind.

When Mary starts her training on Monday, I plan to provide her transportation.  When I told one of the paralegals at my job that I would be changing my work schedule in order to get Mary to her training group on time, she said, “I thought the Kilter college taxi service had closed.”

Well, I’ve been thinking about our insistence that Mary find employment with a location on a bus route. Better for her independence, we said. But after four fruitless years of looking for work that meets that criteria, I have given up on that line of thinking.  If Mary were married, wouldn’t her husband take her to work if he could drive? Don’t other people share transportation to work for members in their family? Young adult or not? Autistic or not? Our goal is for Mary to be as independent as possible. So maybe she needs our help with transportation to get to that point. So what?

The location of this work place is not too far from a bus route, if the bus stops near there. But it would take Mary at least one transfer to get there. Probably about an hour on the bus from our house. There is a transportation service in town for people with disabilities , which costs $10 per trip. When I mentioned this to Mary in the past, she said, “That would be $100 a week.” She didn’t want to consider it. When I asked again, pointing out that $100 a week is what many people pay to own and operate a car (including car payment, insurance, gas, and maintenance), she said, “They have a waiting list.” But even if she has to wait, if she were established in a job, she could find a way to afford it. Maybe Uber, the ride sharing phone application service, could get her a steady ride. Or she could move closer to the job. Maybe we could car pool with another family in the area with similar transportation needs.

Maybe in our stubborn insistence that Mary find a job on the bus line, we have not provided for her. Our intentions were good, I think. Even so, the underlying message regarding independent transportation was important.

When we went out to lunch at the Steak and Shake last spring, Mary told me that since she hadn’t had success in finding work to fit her accounting degree, she was going to try something else. In fact, she had already signed up to begin training for computer certification in order to qualify for work in a different field. She assumed that we would help her get there. And Lord willing, we will.

So, yes, The Kilter family taxi service has opened for business under a new name. But we still have the same mission: eventual independence for our kids.

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Nightspren

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At the behest of my daughter, Patty, I have been reading The Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson. There is a type of creature, sort of, which appears when certain processes occur, both emotional and physical. Sort of a mix between spirits and vibes. So there are angerspren, painspren, gloryspren, deathspren. Lately, I’ve been plagued by Nightspren or maybe worryspren. I suppose you could attach any worry or concern or difficulty or even achievement to “spren.” Sort of a superstitious way of looking at the world. Or possibly a description similar to the idea of giving off a vibe.

Like many parents of kids with autism, I am sometimes awakened in the middle of the night with concerns. Patty says, “Why don’t you call it what it is, Mom. Just plain worry.” She is right of course, no matter how much I try to euphemize it. I think I must give off a vibe. Sometimes, when I am intensely concerned about something, Ralph will walk in from another room and say, “What? What’s going on?” I didn’t say anything. He couldn’t even see me. Sometimes he’ll call me…at work. “Did you call me?” he’ll say. “No, but I was thinking about you intensely.” A kind of telepathy. Perhaps spren is just another idea for processes in the world that we can’t see and don’t understand. Only in The Way of Kings, Sanderson’s characters can see them.

So in the middle of the night, I am pestered by small and large worries:

Mary will be starting training for a job at a computer help desk in 10 days. We hope that she will be able to learn computer language, but what if she can’t? Her spelling is terrible, although she has learned how to use tools available in Microsoft and other programs (like WP) to assist her. What if she gets through the program, but doesn’t pass the certification test? What if she passes everything, but doesn’t get hired for the job? What if she gets the job, but can’t handle the help-line calls? What if my car breaks down? Or the hours mean I can’t drive her back and forth and she has to take the bus? What if the bus doesn’t come in time? And you can see how this goes, round and round my mind goes, racing faster and faster.

And then I think about Patty, and Will, and my job, Ralph’s job, finances, health, war, famine, and pestilence, etc.

From both a physical and spiritual standpoint, I need to stop this; turn it off.

Physically, I have bipolar disorder, and I can’t tolerate sleepless nights for long without having an episode. Sleepless nights also affect my ability to function during the day. Physically, I can quit tossing and turning and get up out of bed, eat something, read a book, clean something that has been bugging me, take pain meds if pain is issue, get a warmer blanket, or find a way to distract myself (usually, the history channel) and then go back to bed.

Spiritually, worry chips away at my faith, my confidence, my strength. Corrie ten Boom, a Christian who survived the death camps during the holocaust, commented, “Worry does not empty tomorrow of its sorrow, it empties today of its strength.” I’ve been awake since 3:00 a.m. (one of many early wakings in the last several weeks). Spiritually, St. Peter encourages us to cast our cares upon the Lord, for he cares for you. (I Peter 5:7). If something is waking me up in the middle of the night, it is an opportunity to bring it to the Lord in prayer.

Sometimes if something is waking me up in the middle of the night, it may be time to repent or make a change in our lives. At times, my night time struggles have caused me to own up to going the wrong way in my life (to break up with a boyfriend). Or sometimes, a night time awakening has led me to make a change (Instead of going back to school to become a teacher, I became a legal secretary).

Sleep deprived nights can occur due to circumstances beyond our control. Then what? One of my Sunday School teachers, Ken, was in a wheelchair and on oxygen. He was often in the hospital for extended periods of time. One Sunday when he was able to make it to our class, he said, “When I am in the hospital and can’t sleep due to the pain, I pray for each one of you by name in the watches of the night.” I miss him. Sometimes I have found that when I pray for others in the watches of the night, sleep does come. Not always.

King David from the Old Testament was troubled, yet spiritually sensitive to God. He spent many sleepless nights, sometimes due to his own failures. Yet he wrote of his struggles with sleep in Psalm 63.

On my bed I remember you;
    I think of you through the watches of the night.
Because you are my help,
    I sing in the shadow of your wings.
I cling to you;
    your right hand upholds me. Psalm 63:6-8

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What do you find helps when you are pestered with sleepless nights?

When A Door Seems to Be Closing…

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Try some other doors. One of them might be unlocked.

Mary has been trying for since 2010 to find a job worthy of her degree in accounting. The door has been closing due to some seemingly significant barriers: being unable to drive, learning disability, autism, etc.

About three months ago, she told me that she was ready to try something else. (See Mary’s Wishes). She went to Goodwill and took a test for a new training program to qualify for a computer training program. She qualified, and was to start when she found out that the trainer had moved on to another job. It took three months for them to hire another teacher. Finally, she will be starting the program in about ten days. Two nights a week. The Kilter taxi service will be starting up again, but we can’t pass up this opportunity. Perhaps if we jiggle the door knob, another door will open. :)

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