My son, who is ten years old, on the autism spectrum, saw a cartoon. In this cartoon, a kid pulls the fire alarm at his school, and everyone gets to leave for the day. My son, who has some pretty severe communication deficits, but is very capable of imitating what he sees on television, thought this was a great idea. He pulled the fire alarm at his afterschool program, then he did it again. He also tried to do it at his elementary school.
It’s disruptive and dangerous, and he shouldn’t have done it. But now he’s been kicked out of his afterschool program, and his public grade school wants to kick him out of the integrated classroom where he’s been thriving and send him to an institution across town for children with autism and behavior disorders.
All of this will cost thousands of dollars. Babysitters until we can get him into another afterschool program. Maybe money to pay the fire department for responding to a false alarm. Maybe a lawyer to fight the school if they push the behavioral program too hard. And the only thing keeping him in the school he’s in — the school his mom moved him across the country to get him into, after Philadelphia’s public schools imploded — are the federal regulations protecting disabled children that the current Secretary of Education, Betsy DeVos, wants to gut, leaving millions of children worse off.
This is a scary time for all of us in different ways. I am afraid of half a dozen different things each day. Sometimes the same things recur; sometimes there’s a new horror. It’s like daytime and primetime television for abject terror. For a few hours, it’s the same old reruns, but sometimes there’s a new episode.
My nonstop terror since the day my son was born, since the day he received his diagnosis, since the day his parents split up, since he moved away from where I could run to him, with every birthday and holiday, every failure I have ever had, every phone call and visit we have ever shared, is that I would not be able to do what I needed to in order to protect my son. And that fear has been realized many, many times.
He can’t do this on his own. His mother can’t do this on her own. I can’t do this on my own. Our family, broken, paltry thing that it is, can’t do this on our own.
So I am asking all of you: friends, colleagues, strangers, anyone I can find, if you can help. I am begging for your help.
In the near term, what that means is money. I have no idea how much it will take. I know it is money I don’t have. I know that if a hundred people gave $20, if 500 people gave $5, my son and his mother would have the help they don’t have now.
- I have a PayPal account here: https://www.paypal.me/timcarmody
- I have a Venmo account here: https://venmo.com/timcarmody
- I have a Dwolla account, but Dwolla to my knowledge doesn’t do public links. If you would prefer to use Dwolla, you can find me by my email address or ask me for my telephone number.
(There are probably more accounts I should have, and there may be reasons I shouldn’t use any of these three, but I am ignoring both of these things I know for now.)
In the long term, helping me and my son may mean many things. Advice. A kind word. Access to experts. A call to your Senator. A political revolution. I don’t know. I don’t know what’s going to happen. I don’t know what else to do.
So I am trying this. I hope you can help.