Funding for ASD/Military Family Camp

My parents have a lake home on Spirit Lake, directly across from the Whispering Pines camp property in Burnett County, Wisconsin. The camp property has come up for sale.
 
My husband and I are interested in keeping Whispering Pines a Christian camp that serves the spiritual needs of families in the area. We would like to start a religious non-profit, so we would not own the camp, the non-profit would.
 
Our dream is to have a place for whole families struggling with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder to have a place to recuperate both physically and spiritually. We would like to offer hippotherapy (horse therapy), physical, occupational, and recreational therapy. We would also like to offer educational and counseling services, and most importantly spiritual support for the whole family through chapel services, kids programs and chaplains. Then, of course, the beauty of the lake and the enjoyment of the outdoors would add to the healing process. Our focus would be on serving military families and other families who have a loved one with a long-term developmental or physical disability. But all families experience extreme stress at times, so we would like to provide a place for all families to heal, and grow closer to God and each other.
 
I realize that there are several other Bible camps in the area, but they all focus on children or offering spiritual retreats for families and individuals without the added physical and psychological care that the we would seek to provide. Also, I understand that there is a new retreat center in the area for families who have lost a child or are suffering under the stress of a terminally ill child. The families we hope to serve do not fit into these categories – the families we hope to serve have a member who is temporarily or permanently disabled, but who is not terminally ill.
 
I realize that there are already two other offers on the property – one to make it into a housing development, another to make it into a campground. However, those offers are contingent on zoning changes.
If we can go to the zoning commission meeting on Thursday, Dec. 17 with a viable plan to keep the property a camp, we may be able to persuade the zoning commission to not approve the zoning changes required for the other two offers.
 
I figured out that with 20% down on a $970,000 dollar loan (that is what the current housing development offer is), we would need about $210,000 for a down payment and closing costs, and about $4500 a month to pay for the mortgage, assuming a loan at 5.25 %. My husband and I are able to finance a chunk of this project. If you, or anyone you know would be interested in supporting such a project, let me know and at what amount. If we could have some sort of viable funding by Thursday, that may help to keep the zoning change from being approved.
 
Thank you for your thoughtful consideration. I will not make any comments that disclose financial or contact information public.
Heather Holbrook
 

My biggest Bumper Sticker pet peeve

You know that bumper sticker that says mean things about mean people? It’s been around for years. You know the one – it says, “Mean People S#!%.”

The first time I ever saw that sticker on the back of someone’s car I gave them a WIDE berth. Definitely did not want to get into their way for fear they might decide for some reason that I was mean and would then proceed to do me harm.

The funny thing was, the other day I mentioned to a neurotypical friend how oxymoronic I found that bumper sticker to be. My friend stopped, thought for a minute, and actually thought the bumper sticker was OK! Seriously?!

After I explained that saying someone, “s#$%s,” is mean (I really didn’t think something this obvious needed explaining!), my friend had to agree that the driver with the bumper sticker is now just as mean as the people this driver is supposedly trying to call out.

This bumper sticker helps bring home the reality of the verses in Matthew 5 where Jesus says to be good to those who are your enemies. Because if we are not, then we are just as despciable as them (hey, that’s two weeks in a row God has had me blog on that section of the Bible – hmmmm, God is up to something here…).

This interaction with my friend is a poster child for the social problems those of us with Asperger’s encounter. We are constantly confused by the double-standards that neurotypicals live by (e.g., thinking that it is not mean to say something mean about a mean person to everyone who drives by).

I believe that is one of the reasons God has allowed us Aspies to be around – we point out the obvious hypocrisies considered normal, acceptable behavior to everyone else.

However, before we Aspies become too high on ourselves, remember that even though we realize these hypocricies that are hidden to others, we are no better at living out the truth. Ironically, because of our extreme sensitivity and difficulty at doing more than one thing at a time (e.g., feeling angry and being able to think of the correct behovioral response at the same time), we spend more time being angry with people and more time treating them poorly than much of the general population.

Thank you God for using us to show others the truth of what you expect of us. Thank you for keeping us humbled by the limitations of our syndrome. Thank you that by relying on you, you can help us act in accordance to your will, when we can not on our own.

Back to the Beginning #3 – Easily Frustrated

People with ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorders) are easily frustrated. It comes from our black and white view of the world.

If things aren’t going well, then they are going badly. If things are going badly, there is no guarantee that they will go well again, so we get very frustrated, because this bad situation is what we may be stuck with from now on.

Our black and white thinking is reinforced by (or is it created by – I do not know) our poor muscle planning. We know that if we get into a bad situation, it is not going to be easy for us to quickly get out of it. Our body does not naturally know how to jump out of the way of a ball flying at our head, or a hammer coming down on our finger.

Also, we know that it is going to be harder to learn a new physical skill. And if it is a physical skill that has many parts that are all performed quickly, such as a golf swing, we feel overwhelmed.

In neurotypical people, mirror neurons in the brain allow one person to watch someone else do an action. The person watching is then able to copy that action immediately, and is able to practise that action in his or her head. It has been shown that for neurotypical people, practising the motion in their head is just as effective is practising the motion physically.

This is not so for people with ASD. The mirror neurons do not function properly in an ASD person. An ASD person must consciously train his or her body to do everything (except, of course to jerk in surprise at loud noises!).

Because everything is so difficult to learn, this makes learning new things more frustrating for the ASD person.

Also, it has been found that people with ASD do not have a natural continuum of emotions. They go from being fine, to extremely frustrated instantly, with no gradiation. With training, they can learn to control the external manifestations of those instant emotions, but those emotions will always threaten to come.

Thankfully, with prayer and leaning on God’s love, people with ASD can learn to give their extreme emotions to God, and let Him show appropriate Christian self-control through them.

God can use these intense emotions for His purposes, too, when the person has learned to respond to them properly. For instance, God abhors many things in our current culture. People with ASD feel this same abhorrence so intensely that they cannot ignore it, as can so many others who are able to feel at a lesser intensity.

This intense emotion can then keep someone with ASD consistently working against these abhorrent things, while others just go along with them, not realizing the harm. The key for the person with ASD is to let God channel that intensity into a loving, merciful response, rather than the natural rude, hurtful response.

Lord, I need more help in speaking the truth in love.

The Good News about Autism Spectrum Disorders

Once we (people with Autism Spectrum disorders) believe something, it is very hard for us to change our mind, no matter the information put in front of us. So if we believe what is right, we won’t be easily swayed from it.

 The things that are important to us are always on our minds. We are driven to focus on those things and are not easily distracted by what we consider to be trivial. So if the things of God become important to us, everyone around us will know.

 We have heightened senses and are not easily able to block out the input that we receive. So if God is talking to us, we have a hard time not listening.

We are very literal. So if the Bible commands that we do something, we are not at rest until we are at least trying to fulfill that command.

We have an excellent memory. So we are good at knowing what to pray for by recalling what God has said and what others have shared with us.

As with all strengths, when not used for God, these very strengths are also our greatest weaknesses. So, quite frankly, the only thing I have found to consistently work when parenting my son, and encouraging myself, is prayer for God’s strength.

I pray for strength and courage for all of you to follow God today – loving the unlovable, caring for those who would be orphans if it weren’t for you, and may He provide joy in places where there couldn’t be without His miraculous power.

Are there really more kids with Autism Spectrum Disorders today?

I do not know anyone with a severely austic child, and I don’t know anyone personally who has a child that seemed 100% neurotypical until 2 years old and then lost language skills, so maybe those sorts of ASD cases are on the rise.

But I have found that among the “almost normal” kids on the Autism Spectrum there seems to be at least one parent that also exhibits Asperger’s symptoms, and often there is a grandparent. 

In my child’s case there is a parent (me), a grandparent, two great-grandparents, at least one great-great-grandparent, an uncle, a great uncle, several great-great aunts, and some cousins both in his generation, as well as several generations older.

So is it on the rise, or is the speed of our society such that it is just more obvious that people have a hard time with transitions?

Also, when I was a child, school was very orderly and eveyone did their own work. Now that the focus is on group work, people who have a hard time working in groups are going to be more obvious.

I think it is excellent that students are required to learn in groups, as that is required to survive as an adult. It just makes kids with ASD more obvious, which is good so that they can get the help that their older relatives didn’t.