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Monica Pickard spent twenty years of her adult life as a child care provider. During that time, with the help of her husband, she raised her son who has been diagnosed with Autism and Developmental Delay. She learned to navigate a world that was new to her – the world of Special Needs. She now shares these experiences and the wisdom they taught her, with love and heartfelt compassion for the human condition.

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Please Help Us!

It is so easy to place blame for the ills of society. We blame the politicians. We blame that other political party. We blame those other races. We blame the cheaters and the takers. We blame the criminals. We blame the abusers. 

When we’re pointing our fingers at all those other people, we fail to see that three of our own fingers are pointing back at us. 

As the young mother of a child with disabilities, I was bombarded with tons of new information. It was like taking a completely new subject in college; a subject I had heard about, but never felt the need to know more about, until now. I didn’t want to know more - I needed to know more. But this was not a fun learning experience. Much of the information coming in was disturbing. It is still disturbing. At some point, I decided to look away from the disturbing things I would have to deal with in the future because they were way too scary for my young mind. These things made me feel like I needed to live forever to protect my son. All while knowing I would not live forever. 

He will end up vulnerable in the hands of strangers. 

I can do everything in my power to set things up for him so that he is in a good place. But I won’t be here to watch out for him. 

Will someone else who loves him take my place? Possibly, but what if something happens to them? 

What if the voters begin to have brain farts and vote for people who want to cut Medicaid and Medicare? They don’t realize he is even more vulnerable when that happens. He is not even on their radar! He is not on anyone’s radar except for the people closest to him. I know this because recently there was a series of articles in the Chicago Tribune about Illinois’ failure to care for its most vulnerable people. These articles were very disturbing to those of us who love someone with special needs, but these articles are not making the media rounds the way a pussy grab by Donald Trump does. They are not being shared on social media as much as an ISIS beheading.


Now there’s a subject!

We seek protection from terrorism. We want a tough president who will bomb the hell out of Islamic countries to protect us from terrorism. We want our congress people to be tough, too. They need to be willing to vote for war to keep us safe. We vote for them to keep us safe.

Meanwhile, back at the group home, PEOPLE – who happen to have the misfortune of being born with intellectual disabilities – are being neglected, abused, held hostage, robbed of their SSI, and God only knows what else. This is terrorism. It is the threat of terrorism my family lives with every day. This is the threat of our future!

And the world does not seem to care.

Today, as I write this, it is Christmas morning 2016, now 7:10 am. I write with tears in my eyes and the biggest pain in my heart after a sleepless night of thinking about and praying for the people I read about in those Chicago Tribune articles and my own son who is at risk of being one of those discarded people one day. Many of them were not discarded willingly by their families. The people that loved them most have died. Soon my two men will be up. One will open his new DVDs and music CDs while the other takes his picture as I help him open his gifts. It will be a happy day. We will go to my parent’s house for dinner and probably won’t speak of these issues, just as all of you will go about your day and probably won’t mention terrorism unless a major attack happens today somewhere in the world. Then it will be headline, front page, non-stop media coverage of every tiny detail on a loop. Everyone will talk about it. Did you hear...? Did you see...?

The terrorism my family and so many other families live with daily will not get trapped in the radar of the media and therefore won’t get trapped in the average person’s radar either. No person will talk about this. No person will take responsibility for creating a solution. 

People believe they are vulnerable to terrorism, but they don’t believe they are vulnerable to being neglected, abused, held hostage, robbed of their only source of income, and God only knows what else. Their children and grandchildren are not vulnerable to it either. It is not terrorism to them. It is not an everyday fear for them. It is a passing horror to read about, but one of those things they can say someone else should do something about. Wow, that’s horrible! Those families need to ban together to stop this. They should do better research on these places so their kids don’t get placed there...

The families of these vulnerable people cannot do it by ourselves. We need you! Get angry that your fellow citizens are being treated this way! Learn about the causes of this madness – the lack of funding which leads to the lack of homes and low-paid workers, which leads to fewer choices for families, which leads to more opportunities for the dishonest to take advantage of these vulnerable people for their own greed. If we had more funding, we would have more choices and much less vulnerability to this terrorism. Maybe you don’t have family that is vulnerable to this, but you do have a heart. Many of you have a background of faith. Just call your local representatives and tell them to make funding for our vulnerable citizens a priority. It is the very least you can do to combat the terrorism of our everyday lives and our futures.

If you had a sleepless night, thinking about these issues, worrying about your loved one’s future, you would know the feeling of being a victim of terrorism.

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