Bootstraps: If You've Got Them, Yank Away

If you read this to the end you are probably family OR you are a friend. Thank you for taking the time!  Where have I been? Why aren't I blogging?   Here's why.  This is the last "summer vacation" for my oldest son who is on the autism spectrum before graduating. I'm trying to make it a good summer for all and also look ahead for what life might be like after school ends.   

Here's a video about planning for adults on the autism spectrum after school ends.   It's about 12 minutes, and is a fairly good representations of challenges facing people on the autism spectrum and their families when school ends.  I like that there is truth and some hope in this video.  I love that the man who loves vacuum cleaners got a job vacuuming 4 days a week. "Doug getting a job vacuuming would be like me getting a job to drink beer and watch the Patriots," says Dad.


When people on the autism spectrum leave school in Maine they lose services. As an example, for adults with disabilities to receive housing services in Maine, there has to be proven abuse, neglect or exploitation in their present situations. The meager budget for housing for people with special needs has a waiting list close to 900 at present time, with about 20 people a year being taken off the waiting list to date this year.  If a young adult with developmental disabilities is placed on the waiting list today for housing, and placement in services continues at the present rate, they might receive services in 36 years, when they are in their 50's, and their parents are in their twilight years.  I look to families with older children with special needs to see what might lie ahead. I don't like what I see, truthfully. It  makes me anxious about my son's future.   

Here is one example:

The Spencer family is looking for housing services for Katie, their 32 year old daughter who is medically fragile.  The family is no longer able to care for Katie.  The mom is ill, and taking chemotherapy, trying to work, and their daughter has been refused dayhab services because she has developed a condition where she faints unexpectedly.

One commenter on the article said it was "despicable" that these hard-working parents should expect the government to help their daughter.  He states he pulled himself up by his own bootstraps and believes that extended family should step in to help the family out rather than look to the government for help for their daughter. Which assumes that the family needing help has family nearby, ready and willing to help. Some families do, some families don't.  

I believe bootstrapping is a myth.  All the successful people I know started off with help from another person, whether it was with dollars invested or a person taking a chance on them when they were starting out.  Sure, they worked hard with the opportunities that came their way.  They worked very hard and put themselves out there.  Good for them and kudos to them.  But at some point their future faced a tipping point that someone else had the the ability to make it go one way or another. It's a rare person who created his or her own opportunity out of thin air.

What about those who don't have bootstraps?  Eventually the Katies of the world will be on their own.  Their parents will die.  Will they be at the mercy of the views of the howdyneighbors of the world? I believe that how the Katies of the world are viewed and treated are a reflection of the health of our society.

If you live in Maine, make your voice heard for Katie.  


Dixie Redmond

"Do not let what you cannot do
keep you from doing what you can do."

John Wooden




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