Don’t judge, things happen

      18 Comments on Don’t judge, things happen

So I wanted to take a few minutes and turn our misfortune into a learning experience. This is simply meant to educate and nothing more. I share our story, good,bad and otherwise.  I do so in a transparent manner so that hopefully, lesson can be learned.

I wrote a post a few days ago, in response to the Fox News story about the little 5 yr old autistic boy denied lunch at school because his parents were behind on the bill.

There was quite a bit of judgements being made about the parents.  Some people thought they were bad parents because the bill was left unpaid.

My goal was to remind people that these parents shouldn’t be judged so harshly because we have absolutely no idea what their lives are like. Special needs parenting can be very overwhelming, exhausting and down right impossible at times.



I shared with you all that I’m guilty of dropping the ball as well.  Does that make me a bad parent?

The problem with taking things at face value is that you won’t have the full story.

I want to share something with you that just happened and I’m not proud of.  This is embarrassing for me but I think it’s important for people to understand how these things can happen.

A few moments ago I watched as Dominion East Ohio (natural gas) pulled up in front of my house.

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They had come to shut off our natural gas.  The gentleman was very nice, but his hands were tied. To our knowledge, we were on hold because of a medical certificate. This puts off the disconnect for 30 days and gives us a chance to come up with the money.

Turns out that the form was never received by our doctor and therefore never submitted.

There was no way to fix this on the spot so they had to disconnect our gas until this issue was resolved. The other option was to pay them $863 and that was not an option that we could afford. So our gas has been disconnected.  That means no cooking,  bathing or heating the house and it will be in the 40’s tonight.

Now,  to anyone watching from the outside, it looks like we just didn’t pay the bill, much like the parents of the little boy in the article.

However, a look beneath the surface will reveal a huge list of reasons why we fell behind, beginning with our van being stolen at the beginning of the year.

We were on the PIP payment plan for natural gas and I didn’t realize that we had to renew this past January.  This resulted in us being removed from the plan and forced to pay the full amount.  I’m sure there was a letter sent out but in all the everyday chaos and the added drama about losing our only vehicle to theft,  I never saw it.

Read This  Find help, support and good conversation at the My #Autism Help Forums

It was my responsibility and I accept it.

Honestly, we weren’t in the best position to begin with but we were surviving. With that one event,  a chain reaction occurred that we have not been able to recover from.

That doesn’t include the nearly half a dozen hospital trips for Gavin alone this summer,  many resulting in admissions.  The only other thing I can say is that when you have a special needs child,  or three in our case, it’s really easy to get tunnel vision.

Should we have paid the bill? Absolutely. I once again accept full responsibility for that.

However,  does getting behind on the bill and having the gas shut off make me a bad parent?  I would hope not. However,  some may see it differently.

My point is that things happen.  Being a special needs family doesn’t provide us with an exemption. In fact,  if anything, it makes us more vulnerable to the twists and turns that life throws our way. In the case of my family, we have been stretched so thin, it doesn’t take much to send everything on a downward spiral.

The parents of that little boy have a great deal on their plate.  While I don’t know their entire life story, I know enough about my own personal life,  that I would never assume they were bad parents and neither should you.

The bottom line is, things happen.  They happen to all of us. Sometimes, no matter how hard you try, things slip through the cracks.

As special needs families, we are tasked with an enormous amount of responsibility.  Why is it that people are so quick to point out the mistakes?

We have no idea what that family was going through. We have no idea what they managed to overcome.  All we know is that the lunch bill fell through the cracks.

Sure,  we lost an important utility.  However, we managed to survive this long. Gavin hasn’t been rushed to the hospital in over a month. He’s also relatively stable, health wise. There was a point this summer when we thought we were going to lose him to an autonomic crisis. We’ve also managed to keep our house and replace our van.

I would say those are huge accomplishments.

Perhaps others out there have managed similar feats. Perhaps,  they dropped the ball on somethings but I would imagine they accomplished so much more.

I’m not proud of having our gas disconnected but somehow we’ll manage.  In the grand skeem of things, we have much bigger things to worry about.

I’ll say it again.  There is no point in judging a special needs parent.  Most are already harder on themselves than you could ever be.

 



  • Batty says:

    Rob–this link is to a list of grants available for special needs families: &nbsp ;http://www.itaalk.org/nov12/data/downloads/grant%20list%20complete.pdf
    There are 6-7 pages of links.  I have screwed up faaaaaar worse than this, so don't beat yourself!
    Hugs and prayers!
    Karen

  • Soundless2 says:

    I so understand where you're coming from.  Sometimes, things happen all at once and we can only do what we can to keep up. We had a similar situation last winter where it just seemed nothing would let up. You're doing the best you can and I wish you and your family luck.  Hopefully, you can find some assistance to help?  Have you called your local United Way?
     
    Also, the parents from the lunch story, from what I understand, were only in the negative for $2.  I did not judge them, but I did judge the school faculty for allowing that child, a little kindergarten child, be hungry on their watch. There is never an excuse for that,  Inner Aspie- http://inneraspie.blogspot.com/

  • DeborahWigginSnyder says:

    Unfortunately, there was a great deal of negative backlash about that story, mostly by those who aren't parents at all. Some people just don't have any sense of decency and compassion!I understand so much about this frustration. My husband lost his job on Sept. 7. He was fired because he had been given permission by two different (consecutive) store managers to take sealed, outdated snack foods out of the dumpster so that our kids would get an occasional treat. Since he had already been put on part-time hours, we obviously don't have money to buy special treats for the kids, so the managers were doing what they could to help out. Loss-prevention (upper management) said this is against company policy, although they haven't been able to show anyone the policy against it. Needless to say, we are cutting back on every single thing we can. We have to have internet because our ASD son can't survive without it. We already have magicjack, so our phone bill is only $30 a year. But we do all have cell phones since we drive a old car and it's necessary to have phones in case it breaks down. We pay $2 a month extra on our car insurance so that we have towing if necessary.  We are a month behind on all our bills except our rent, and we live in public housing so our rent will be adjusted due to the loss of his job. But it's still embarrassing to be in this predicament, especially since my husband didn't do anything wrong. And it's embarrassing to have to tell our church family why we are in this situation. Who wants to admit that they have to fish special treats out of a dumpster for their kids?!  
    Why are we living where we do when my husband has a Master's degree in education? Because when he was laid off from the last teaching position (due to an increase in enrollment at the Christian school where he taught), we decided it was necessary for us to stay put. Our son needed stability and we are in a wonderful school system. We didn't feel that it was right to continue to uproot him every few years. We all have things happen. Parents of kids without special needs have things happen too, but since they aren't always living in a hotbed, it might not seem quite as tragic. Everything that happens to us affects our kids. Zeke has been asking for the last two weeks how we are going to get money to pay for things. He is only 13–no 13 year old should have to worry about things like that, especially not one who already is struggling. Rob, I appreciate your transparency. I have been wondering this week if I am too transparent about our struggles. Not everyone is comfortable knowing about them. I figure if someone is uncomfortable, they don't have to think about it, they don't have to read my comments, they don't even have to remain my friend. On the other hand, we have been loved by those who do care and want to be a blessing to us.  Someday, I pray that we are able to be more of a blessing by giving to others instead of always having to be on the receiving end. And I hope that maybe I am a blessing just by being able to understand what others like me are going through. I wish we could help your family out, Rob. I know that wasn't the point of your blog. But I still desire to be able to help. So I will encourage you and pray for you and your family. And I appreciate your writings. So often what you say touches on something I have been dealing with recently. Thank you for that!

  • RhondaCat says:

    Rob I know each state is different, but we lost our gas back during the winter…thankfully it was a mild one. and when I went to pay it they wanted the next month too…I decided to heck with it we would go electric. With Abbi being blind and also having SPD she was hurting herself on the flames of the gas heater anyway. So, what I am getting at is this….we did not have the money to replace the gas water heater but there is a program through our AL Power Company…if you change from gas to electric water heater it is free, but you have to do your own install. That might be something to look into at least. Our stove was gas…I can do in a large toaster oven most things I can do in an oven…we also have an electric skillet. we have not missed the gas. We are getting electric heaters for each room that do put out heat, but do not get hot to the touch to keep Abbi safer. I chose to look at ours as a blessing in disguise even though it was also a PITA. 🙂

  • Carlyoung says:

    Things happen.  And when you are the parent of a single special needs child, it happens.  It happens way more often when you start to add other special needs kids into the equation.  I understand completely what you are going through.  Our usual forget bill is the telephone.  I always forget it, and then the day comes off and suddenly no telephone service… yeah, let me get right on that.  The used to give me a call, but I guess they decided that it isn't there job to make sure that I pay our bill.  In truth, it isn't.  But it would be nice if they would call next time before they turn it off, so i could avoid the reconnect fees.  but then, I could remember to pay the bill too, and avoid those same reconnect fees.  Keep your chin up Rob.  I wish that I could send some money to help out.

    • lostandtired says:

       @Carlyoung  No worries my friend. That wasn't the point of this. I just want people to remember that there is often so much going on behind the scenes. We all do so much that is amazing and for people to focus on the things that slip through the cracks is really sad. 
       
      Hang in there my friend. If there is anyone out there that understands, I know you do. I'm also really sorry to hear about Marc. 
       
      On a side note, I can't figure out how to reblog via triberr. I have been wanting to reblog some of your posts and I can't get it to work. HELP.. 🙂

    • Batty says:

       @Carlyoung I finally had to put my phone bill on auto pay with my bank.  It covers my a$$ and keeps the internet + netflix + huluplus up and running.

  • lostandtired says:

     @Aspie Writer @DeeBrake @Mary Franzen Costello  Thanks for the positive feedback. I hope people open their eyes and learn that there is more going on beneath the surface.

  • DeeBrake says:

    i always get phone calls and reminders. i always say OMG i forgot that one. such is my life with twins. let alone one with MILD autism. no matter what we face in life, no matter how many kids we have or what our state of affairs. we are all human. i usually remember to pay the cable bill once it is cut. and then call them and say HEY i have no tv service . and i paid $100 last week. they simply reply you paid $100 on a 4 months out of date bill. the bill was only a little over $200 and when i said i paid half, they remind me that in paying only $100 i am paying the oldest part of the bill still leaving me 3 months behind. i think their math sucks but, YUP that is my life. oversight in a busy moms life. hubby working crazy shift and me trying to wrangle twins. bills. half the time are left on the counter unopened or fall behind something unseen…. im always busy taking care of the day to days with my kids.

  • Mary Franzen Costell says:

    Even at my most organized stay at home mom of two typical kids phase I forgot a bill or two. Its one of the reasons auto bill pay became so popular. Everybody screws up somewhere. I also admit that my lunch account has gotten behind before simply because i forgot, and as a classroom volunteer I stuffed many a past due notice in typical children's backpacks. It happens, that's why our schools still provide a PBJ and milk. By the way, sorry about the gas shutoff. Sometimes you must feel like Job. Amazing job keeping it together.

  • Aspie Writer says:

    Thank you for posting this! It is about time someone does. I find that in the world of parenting, there is too much harsh judgment–special needs parents or not. I don't think anyone is a bad parent for falling behind on the bills, and we do beat ourselves up over it. We've all been there (or at least I like to tell myself that). My chaotic aspie brain has caused me to pay the mortgage twice because I forgot I paid it, and then paid it again–everything else was shut off that month…oops. I've completely forgotten to pay the electric bill only to realize it when I tried to flip the switch in the morning and nothing happened. It even took me a while to figure out that it wasn't the breaker!
     
    Hard times have come, and gone, and come again…over and over–when there is simply more month than money. It's just the reality of it sometimes. It's embarrassing when you get your garbage can repossessed! Yes–I've had that happen to me. Here, if you fall behind on that bill, no can for you! This is all just to say that, no you are not a bad parent, no you are not alone, and no-one should judge. Thanks for sharing, its good to know that I too am not alone.
     
    ~Aspie Writer http://www.aspiewriter.com
     

  • Melissa says:

    Glad I did not see the negative backlash on the parents of that 5 year old boy!  I posted the story on my FB and people were shocked and very supportive!  No child should go without a lunch!  Been following your blog for awhile but this is my first time commenting.  I marvel at your strength!  My son is on the mild to moderate side of autism and my other son is not on the spectrum at all.  Seeing you do it x's 3 makes my worst days seem like something.  I root for you and your family everyday 🙂