Parenting a child with autism challenges and tests you physically and mentally, prevents you from using the normal everyday procedures others can, and can drain you emotionally and financially unless you create, honour and pursue your own source of joy as well as multiple sources of income. Fortunately, I think I have a way to overcome these odds that will benefit others too.
Living with severe autism sometimes feels like the exact opposite of being free. You cant just go out to dinner, or for a holiday. Everything is crazy complicated. You live by a strict, repetitive schedule in order to prevent anxiety (which can cause self-injurious behaviour) and it often feel like you walk on eggshells. You get socially isolated with high numbers of unexpected emergencies and stress, too many responsibilities, a never ending list of complicated needs and appointments to go to. Many of which can take a LOT of driving, money or effort to get to. Everywhere you look, there are fun things you'd like to do (or places you'd go) but can't, because it doesn't work with autism. Your world shrinks, unless you actively fight to expand it. Because you spend every spare cent on your child - they come first. Then there are the logistics.
Travelling with autism requires a whole set of unthinkable additional supports and costs that prevent autism families from even boarding a plane. You can't just pay, get in, buckle up, and go. You're lucky if you can afford the tickets for the person with autism plus a necessary caregiver (whose rate is double or triple a normal babysitter). When you do, you're not sure whether you'll make it on the plane or forfeit your ticket that day because of a meltdown or sensory issue. If you get on the plane, you can't be sure people will understand or support you and not freak out should something go wrong. You're worried when people judge you for your loved ones actions, because you know they dont even realize that although your child might "look normal" they literally have different brain wiring... that maybe they haven't slept in 3 nights and because your loved one cant be left alone, you stayed up too and are now at wits-end, because now youre worried how every sound, motion or smell in the plane's close quarters will affect the person with you who has autism. You certainly dont even care what you look like, because you may have just been headbutted as you eased your loved one's anxieties about new sensory issues they experienced in the airport. The unfamiliar and the new are not friends of autism.
When I see the world from up in the air - the amazing calm and perspective shift on what's really important in life - the excitement and sense of exploration... is my joy. A break. I've flown on many types of planes... and love the incredible sense of independence, freedom and possibility that flying brings me.
I want to share this joy and use my interest to give families like mine plane rides and therapeutic exposure to flying. I need your help to get all our needs met.
So. I am an autism mom who asks for your help to regularly get the uplifting joy of flying and give families on Vancouver Island, the Lower Mainland and the Okanagan who need it a free ride to medical appointments or flying "exposure therapy".
To do this, I need your help. My spouse and I already have 4 jobs but we still just make ends meet, mostly due specialize childcare (eg $25k last year). We are not be able to afford to provide the service families need without your support.
WE HAVE MET THE FIRST STAGE OF THE GOAL!! I completed ground school using the first $1100 raised. Thank you!!
MAY 2018: WE ARE MORE THAN HALF WAY THROUGH THE NEXT STEP: This step has 35 hours of dual pilot/student time up in the air, and is the most expensive part aside from solo time (to follow). Instructor says I'm doing great and need 3 or so more lessons to get to solo circuit training. And I just got my final medical certification!! The hourly dual pilot rate plus plane rental is just over $200 /hr, and Im half way through that sub-goal of $2000.
After that - The solo flight costs are less, and tests after that are one time small amounts. Simply covering costs is my goal, then I can start giving back right away!!
Thank you so much for your support, any amount helps. This profoundly influences my life and I will pay it forward!!