Making Money on Autism

There are lots of autism bloggers, and lots of single moms with kiddos on the spectrum. Lots of us have learned so much from experience, and lots of us want to share that because we know how hard it can be.  And there a few of us who have the ability to make a few bucks doing this.

Way back when I started this blog, one of the things that inspired me was the inability to find existing social stories online that weren’t for sale.  I was tired of being nickel-and-dimed for every little resource I needed for The Boy.  Others had experienced just what we were going through, and someone had to have a social story already written, so that I wouldn’t have to re-create the wheel every time, but they were all for sale. And money is hard to come by when your paying for uninsured therapies, prescriptions, diapers or your 5 year old… It’s tough.

I have long considered trying to take this blog to the next level, and maybe “go pro” which means trying to attract companies to advertise here. Most bloggers do this, and I don’t see it as trying to make money off of other autism or special needs parents.  Advertising is everywhere, and I don’t think anyone would see this as a blogger trying to take advantage of her audience.

There are other bloggers that sell stuff on their sites, as well.  And I think we have to be very careful when we head in that direction.  T-shirts are one thing.  Resources are another.  Trust me – I understand the sentiment behind it – when you work hard to create something, you have a tendency to want to protect it, and while you want to share it with the world, you feel you deserve something in return.  I get it.  But we cannot forget that person on the other end, spending money on therapy, weighted blankets, chewies, and special gluten-free ingredients.  Our community needs to remain one in which we share resources at little cost, and respect each other’s struggles. If we forget that, we’ve lost our way.

The autism community needs to stick together

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When Work Sucks

I love my job.  I love being busy, I love having some responsibility (and a title).  I love being a leader in the office.

But there are aspects of my job that are really just too much, sometimes.  I have quite a background in educational leadership and administration which actually isn’t a far cry from business management.  Simply put, a good leader is a good leader, and good management practices are good management practices.  And it is still easy for me to identify examples of bad leadership and management practices, too.

I work in a culture of blame, and I hate that.  Good leaders use mistakes to help guide people to better work, and to help create better procedures.  Poor leaders point fingers and end up making good workers wonder why they work so hard, or even quit.  Two people walked off the job this Sunday.  Two, of an office staff of six.

Today, I busted my behind, trained two new employees, handled a million phone calls, and even booked some private charters.  I went home feeling pretty good about the productive day I had.  And about an hour after I got off work, I got a phone call from my boss, asking me about something at work which he clearly felt was a mistake I had made.  I had not made a mistake, but in his mind, he had to blame someone, so it was me.  And instead of feeling good about being productive and working hard today, I end up with a sick feeling in my stomach this evening about his perception of my fault, even though none existed.

More and more, every single day is stressful, and that means I have less to give when I get home at night, which is absolutely no good.

Jobs are hard to find.  In five months of searching last year, I got very few calls for interviews, and only one real offer.  Do I consider leaving?  Yes I do.  Definitely on evenings like tonight.

How do I deal with it?  My boys.  I spend time with my family and they make me laugh.  It may sound clichè, but they remind me why I am really on this planet.  It’s not for other people’s kids, and it’s most certainly not to take reservations for boat trips.  It is to love and spend time with my guys.  Yes I need a job to pay the bills, but my job is the small stuff as compared to The Boy and The Man.  Remembering that is how I deal with the rest.

Standing Up When It’s No Joke

Today I had to say something.

I know it’s different in the South, but really?  How long are we going to let this be an excuse?

At work today (which just blows me away, coming from a work environment where nothing off-color would ever escape my lips, not only because that’s really not me, but also because it would never fly with anyone else), a co-worker used a not uncommon Southern phrase which also happens to be derogatory to an ethnic group.  And then the person she was speaking to repeated it in his response.

I bit my lip, sighed uncomfortably, and tried to focus on my work.

It was said again.  And again, in response.  This happened three or four more times – it almost made me feel like I was getting “punked”, they couldn’t really be saying this same phrase over and over again so many times without it being a parody, right?  Nope.  They were for real, and I was fed up.

“Could we use a different word for that?” I asked.

I was not confrontational, but it was also clear I wasn’t joking.

The first woman immediately said, in a sing-song voice, “Uh-oh!  We’ve offended somebody!  Oh no.  Someone’s offended!”  And I don’t think she meant further offense with this — more of a Southern way of backhandedly telling you you’re overreacting while trying to smooth ruffled feathers, kind of like “Bless your heart!”

The man approached me and asked if I was a member of the slighted ethnic group.  Shocked, I asked, “Do I have to be to be offended?”

“I’m just asking a question!” he responded.  “And I’m just asking a question,” I said.

He went on to say he didn’t think it was offensive, and thankfully left soon after.

I wasn’t intending to be confrontational, just speaking up.  Because it bothered me, and I don’t care if it’s a “Southern” thing.  Truthfully I was more bothered by their responses to being called out for being offensive. It made me feel as if I was somehow in the wrong.  And maybe I am, geographically.

But we can’t accept this anymore.  “It was the way I was brought up,” is no longer an excuse, because you were probably also brought up to not hurt others.  “It’s just a saying down here,” is not OK anymore.

And when you offend someone, you need to say you are sorry, and leave it at that, whether or not you agree with the person who felt offended. Why don’t people get this? It’s not up for debate!  Every single person is different, and has had different experiences and backgrounds.  If you hurt someone enough for them to speak up and tell you to your face, you just end up looking like an ass if you insist you didn’t hurt them.  You may not have intended to, but you did.  Own it, apologize, and change the subject.

Thoughts?

No Need to be Nasty

Waiting Room by Melissa Venable

Waiting Room by Melissa Venable

The camp that I’d like to send The Boy to this summer, in lieu of ESY has an 11 page application, part of which must be filled out by his physician. We were just at his doctor’s office last week, getting his booster, but when I approached the desk to ask about getting this filled out, no one seemed interested in helping me, and rather than stand there like an idiot, I decided to leave and call about it later. I called today, and politely explained to the woman on the other end of the phone that I needed to get this paperwork filled out by May 10. She responded that the doctors in the practice didn’t “just do that”, meaning fill out paperwork for camps and such, and that we would have to have a physical. I expected this, and when she asked when his last physical was, I told her August, and she then replied that he would have to wait until a year after that physical, and went to disconnect the phone! I raised my voice slightly, explaining that we were moving in June, so waiting until August was an impossibility, and that I had spoken to someone in her office who had said that it depended on our insurance when another physical could be done. I assured her that we were in the clear according to our insurance, and could we schedule a later appointment for this, due to my son having autism, and hating to miss school? She grudgingly offered up a 3:30 appointment in May, and I asked if there was anything later in the day, as The Boy is still in school at that time. She responded that that was the latest appointment she had before our deadline, adding that the late appointments fill up fast because everyone wants them after school.

I shouldn’t have to fight for an appointment! I shouldn’t have to raise my voice to get the service that I need! If you would like my son to be having a meltdown when he comes for his physical, than by all means, continue to be flippant with me about how everyone wants late appointments!

This is not the first time I have had issue with the office staff in this practice. Two summers ago, I was running a summer camp, and couldn’t leave until the last camper had been picked up. Of course, I had The Boy with me because we had an appointment scheduled about 30 minutes after camp was over. Unfortunately, the parent of this camper was extremely late. I called the office after he had finally been picked up, and explained that I would be 10 or 15 minutes late, knowing that usually one waits at least 45 minutes to see an actual doctor. The staff member proceeded to lecture me about being late, and that they would have to cancel my appointment. I pressed the issue, saying that we would be right there, and couldn’t we just keep our appointment time, and she lectured me again about being responsible about keeping appointment times, refusing to see us. I swore I wouldn’t go back, but when you have a child with special needs, finding a doctor who understands your child’s background is essential, and you often have to make compromises.

I can remember loving the dentist I had as a child, and hating his office staff and his dental hygienists with a passion. And we actually did leave the practice of The Boy’s first dentist because they couldn’t be flexible with appointment times.

Don’t these people understand that they drive people away when they treat them this way? They create anxiety in the patient, and they create mistrust with the patient’s caregiver, namely me! And in these days and times of social media, consumers have no compunction about telling all and sundry about their experiences with your business, especially if they were negative. I just don’t understand how they get away with it, and I’m glad I won’t have to be dealing with this particular office staff again!