There are times in the middle of the night, when I get all woe-is-me because my kid won't sleep, that I'm so grateful for my cyber-friends who are up with me--either because their kids aren't sleeping either, or they live in Australia. (I love the Aussies! Holla!)
And then I imagine what it would be like if we all actually lived together...in the beautiful autism commune in my head. Would you like to take a tour? (This is not real. This is in my head. I promise I'm not trying to sell you a time-share. Go with it.)
First of all, it's not really a commune. It's more like a gated community. I'm claustrophobic and I would have to leave once in a while. Anyway...
Welcome to Spectrum Estates, a judgement-free zone for families with autism. Our community, bordered by a fence, has a security staff specially trained in helping folks on the spectrum. Lifeguards are on duty 24/7.
Our streets are arranged according to sensory-sensitivity. Sensory-avoidance homes are landscaped during the week while the children are at school. The houses with sensory-seeking kids are landscaped on weekends so the kids can stim off the lawnmowers. Ditto for leaf blowers and snow plows. We don't worry about spraying for mosquitoes because this is my fantasy and mosquitoes don't exist.
The climate is warm; clothing is optional. Obviously.
There are several restaurants that cater to every possible food allergy
and offer seating choices based on sensory preference. Need booth
seating for four in a noisy room full of music and balloons? No
problem! Need a quiet corner with plush seats and bland food? We can do it! Our "date night" restaurant features a separate respite room
that serves platters of tater tots and Yoo-Hoo. There's something for
Here at Spectrum Estates, we have a community center with specially-designed rooms for obsessions of all kinds. Be sure to visit our displays of model trains and vacuums! Our community center is a place for therapy and playtime, as well as respite care. We have a gym, pool, climbing wall, and carousel. There is a tiki bar--no cash necessary. Expenses are covered by member dues and puzzle piece magnet fundraisers. "Support Autism. Buy this Mama a Mudslide!"
One of the best features of the community center is the Moonlighters room. Softly lit and lined with comfy couches, it is a safe place for sleepless children be sleepless while parents nap or keep each other company. A selection of bean bag and swing chairs are arranged in front of a number of dim screens featuring soothing favorites like Good Night, Moon, Baby Einstein, and Tales from the Tracks. We shuffle around in our pajamas and snuggies and clutch cups of coffee or beer. It looks like finals week in college...only with kids.
The center offers social activities and support for the siblings as well. There's a specially-stocked kitchen in the Sibling Station full of all the junk food we can't keep in our homes. They can eat gluten and food dye to their heart's content! We have movie nights featuring anything other than Thomas the Train, The Wiggles, Blue's Clues, and Fraggle Rock. Be sure to stop by for our helpful weekly seminars covering topics such as "So Your Brother Dropped Trou in Front of Your Girlfriend" and "Making Echolalia Work for You!"
And of course, the Spectrum Estates activities director organizes plenty of social and wellness events for the parents--yoga, book clubs, wine-tasting classes, wine-making classes, cooking with wine classes...
Everyone is invited to the birthday parties. Nobody gets mad if you can't make it. The playground always has enough swings and the trampolines are surrounded by crash-pads. If your kid wants to wear a Santa hat in June, nobody asks why. If your child insists on showing neighbors his plastic bug collection, there's no need to apologize. If your kid is naked in the front window, nobody will notice.
"Spectrum Estates--Where People Get It."
Happy Hour is at 5:00.