Health care is a basic human right, not a privilege. For some reason, we’ve allowed ourselves as Americans to be fooled into accepting that one must be blessed with “means” to actuate appropriate health care. As a nation we have failed to realize that our health care system is a barometer of our society’s value for human life.


Monday, December 04, 2006


There have been a few things bubbling up in my virtual blogosphere of a brain lately, sparking ideas for posts, but today I had an experience which really supercedes the importance of all the others. I mean, really, I CAN wait to discuss the role of doubt in the grieving process. I can also wait to bemoan how badly strip bars tick me off (don't even get me started!) Today, I had the awesome experience of witnessing what it means when community makes inclusion for our children REALLY happen. Inclusion that includes not just the kids that are developmentally on par, but also the kids that have a little catching up to do. Today, I saw inclusion actually "include" my son.


ARISE is a local program whose purpose (as I understand it) is to offer free services to local children with disabilities to help them participate in recreational activities with their peers. They offer this help outside of school hours. They offer this help to families who desperately want and need to have their children in extra-curricular programs but cannot afford the program AND the aide. They offer their help to children who desire to be with other children their age. They give these children, my son, a chance to experience things they would otherwise be excluded from because of their disability.

I have been acting as my son's aide during gymnastics thus far. I enrolled my peanut in dance so my son could be in his class, because without an aide, he is simply too disruptive to the class. Acting as an aide to your own child in a situation that should serve to teach him social skills as well as build self confidence is exhausting. It also, in many ways, defeats the purpose. My son has a comfort level with me that he does not have with others. My son does not feel the need to practise his social skills when I am with him. He has me. He does not need to actively attempt to engage anyone else but me.

I met Rhonda 15 minutes before class time today, and she met Sandis. I had an opportunity earlier in the day to discuss with her some of the ins and outs with Sandis. She was AWESOME! She took to my son, and he took to her, and she helped him with a wonderfully caring attitude. Sandis didn't have to have his "mommy" watching over him during class. Sandis gained indepence, and he also gained a friend in Rhonda. It helped in countless ways that Rhonda knows so much already about disorders on the autism spectrum, and intuitively had a few ideas to help Sandis process all the sensory input that is thrown at him during class.

I, for the first time since gymnastics started, enjoyed this hour. I watched my peanut dance (holey moley she has no coordination! so cute!) I watched Sandis do his cartwheels with an intensity he just didn't have with me at his side. I watched his class function and I watched Sandis function, appropriately (with a little help, and sometimes more than a little help!) with other little boys his age. I gained a new respect for these people that give their time, free of charge, to help children with such a critical part of their life. Their fun time. Their me time. Their explore time. Sandis's move his body time.

And while Rhonda was helping Sandis, she was helping me. She helped Sandis get dressed and in his jacket after class. She helped walk Sandis to the car. She loaned me some sanity and spared me my yelling voice.

Man oh man, these ARISE helpers are damn near angels.

I don't know if there are ARISE programs elsewhere in the state of Minnesota or even in the US. I know that ARISE helps give a little bit more to the kids that really really need it. I know that ARISE gave Sandis gymnastics and a friend. I know that ARISE gave me back my Monday nights, to be a parent, not an aide. ARISE gave me an opportunity to watch and enjoy.

I so look forward to next week gymnastics and dance! I can't wait to see Gracie's antics on the dance floor! I can't wait to see Sandis making a new friend! I can't wait to see cartwheels and somersaults and beginning roundoffs. I can't WAIT!

Thank You, ARISE, for giving me all of this. And even more, Thank you God, for recognizing the need my Sandis has, and giving him (and me!) EXACTLY what he needs.


In Search Of Balance said...

What a wonderful program! I'm so glad that you found it.

Chrissie in Belgium said...

WOW - this is a really great program. It is so important that your son can rely on someone other than you, every second of the day. This is important for you and for him. Here is one for Rhonda!

Vivian said...

Yea!! I love when things come along that are joyful. Glad you are getting to be mom and enjoy. Big hugs going out to you and to Rhonda.

Flmgodog said...

This program sounds great. I am glad that you found it as well!! Hopefully you will be able to get a little more time to enjoy your kids from the outside instead of always as the aide.

Sandra Miller said...

I've never heard of ARISE-- what a wonderful program!

Sounds like you couldn't have found it at a better time. :-)