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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.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Abundance: Belief

What you believe becomes your truth. What are your beliefs about abundance? Most people do not ask themselves that question. Many people go through life on autopilot; having a thought and automatically believing that thought. Money has a huge impact on our lives. All one needs to do is look around to see how much it impacts us. We see how powerful it is, how happy people look when they have it, how much security it brings, etc. We want more of it because we believe it creates happiness and security and power.

I cannot count the number of times I wished I had more money to pay for more therapy for my son. I thought if I had more money to buy more therapy, he could learn more and be more independent as an adult. I have seen many comments on social media about this same topic. People believe they do not have enough to provide the things their children with disabilities need. I have read books about people who gave their children hours upon hours of therapy because it was proven to work wonders for kids with autism. It made me feel inferior; like I was letting him down because I did not sell everything I owned to finance the therapies. This belief felt true. All the evidence pointed to it being true. The thing is, it was my truth, but it was not the truth. That was just a story I told myself because I believed I did not have enough money.

Therapies help children – no doubt about it. Therapy helped Joshua tremendously, but it could not raise his IQ. It helped him overcome a lot of issues, but it did not make him more intelligent. One of the books I read, way back in the day, was written by William Christopher. He played Father Mulcahy, on M.A.S.H. His son is autistic. His son was growing up in the 1970’s when there was not a lot of knowledge about autism. He wrote about the therapy they tried with his son and the cost of the therapy. He noted how fortunate he was to afford the therapy. He was honest and admitted that there were advances his son made through therapy, but there were also setbacks. He admitted that therapy could only get his son so far. During puberty, his son became violent and self-injurious. Therapy was no help. Money was no help to relieve his son of those issues. Money and celebrity could not take away the pain of watching his son hurt himself. I have learned there are many celebrities who have children with autism and other disabilities. Their feelings and issues and ability to make life easier for their children are the same as mine. The same as yours. Yes, they have more money and it can buy more therapy and more gadgets to help the child, but ultimately there is a point when money no longer makes a difference.

Unfortunately, the next time you read about some new expensive therapy that you cannot afford, you might forget about William Christopher and his son. You might go back to that feeling of not having enough to help your child. But, I hope you will question that belief because the only thing your child truly needs is a parent who loves them. You can use that love to help them in other ways that do not require your money. You can advocate for your child.

I advocated for my child as much as I could when he was in school, but that advocacy did not stop when my child aged out of school. He will need help for the rest of his life and that help requires money. I am not rich. Most of the people whose children have disabilities are not rich. Our children will need the help of others when we are gone and this will require help from our government. It is vitally important that we do not leave our children’s future in the hands of people who do not have a firm grip on our children’s reality; namely, our lawmakers. It is our job to make them understand the issues that impact our children. I believe that once people understand and can empathize with us and our children, they do the right thing.

In my last post, I wrote about the perceptions of the super wealthy and how that can make them believe certain things about themselves. Our perceptions make us believe certain things about the super wealthy, too. We must be careful not to stereotype the super wealthy, but we must also understand how money and power can impact decisions in our government. For instance, if a lawmaker gets campaign money from a wealthy person or corporation, it is likely to make them vote in the wealthy person’s or corporation’s interest rather than in the interests of their constituents. We believe this in general, but individually we believe that our congressperson is above that behavior. We want to believe that we are being represented well, so when we think about the person we voted for, we believe they are sincere. Some of them may be very sincere, but politics is a game that is not always played with integrity.

Some wealthy people believe they deserve to use their wealth to influence politicians. Some believe they are the makers and the people who work for them are the takers. Some do not see the employer/employee relationship as a mutual agreement but as a master/servant relationship. The farther removed from contact an owner becomes from their employees, the more likely they are to feel this way. It’s no different from the way we voters feel about politicians regarding their honesty. Congress has the lowest approval rating, yet we believe it's everyone else’s representatives who are the problem. Or, even more likely, we believe the other party is to blame. Our party is part of our identity and it is very difficult for the ego in each of us to admit when our side is wrong. We believe our party is right, good, sincere, and working in our best interest. We believe the other party is the opposite of those things. In part, we get these beliefs from political rhetoric. Our party says something nasty about the other party and that strikes an emotional nerve, so we believe it. We think if the other party would just budge a little and compromise, everything would be okay. We don’t believe they will do that because of the rhetoric we hear. That becomes our reality. For the past few decades, compromise has happened fewer and fewer times, so that nothing gets done. Both sides – the politicians and the public – dig in their heals, so that compromise is not possible.   

So, what does all of this have to do with advocating for our children? If you believe your lawmaker is working for you and that they are not part of the problem, but they are working for their wealthy donors instead, that is a problem for your child. We must start looking at politics with clear eyes and an open mind. Some of us must start paying more attention to it. It is too important in our lives not to pay close attention. I wrote in my last post about how politicians change our perceptions to make us see things in a way that is not always in line with reality. As parents, we must make sure we are seeing clearly to advocate properly for our children and their future. Your child is worth just the little bit of time it takes to look up how your representatives are voting. Are they voting for things that will help your child or hurt your child? Are they cutting vital programs your child needs? If so, where is the money going? Are they telling you we cannot afford programs for your child while giving away millions of dollars unnecessarily? Are they really voting for your values or are they just making you think they are? Rhetoric takes place on both sides. One party is not evil and the other saints. This country is abundant, but making constituents believe otherwise allows both sides to direct the money to where their donors want it to go. 

Advocate for your child by telling your child’s story. Politicians are human beings with hearts. Many are sincere and want to do the right thing. Educate them about your child and appeal to their better nature. And if that does not work, remind them who they work for. Each wealthy person has influence through their money, but they still only get one vote, just like you and me. And we out number them! Many people think, “My phone call won’t make a difference, my letter won’t even get read.” It does get read and it does make a difference. I’ve seen it happen.

This country is abundant. Start to believe this truth by looking at your pay stub and note how much money went to the government. Times that by all the working people in this country and you will get a better idea of just how blessed we are. Contact your lawmakers and use that knowledge to advocate from a position of strength and abundance for your child and mine. We can change our beliefs about politics and the abundance this country has. It just takes a little bit of effort on each of our parts. Each of us collectively can make a big difference. That is a truth worth believing.

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