What would you do for your child with autism?
Would you pick up and move to a better school district, even if you can’t sell your home? Relocate to a state with better services? Would you move for a trusted doctor? A family member in need?
My husband and I have discussed moving from Baltimore for all of these things. I’m a small town girl, reared by farm-raised parents (you know, like salmon)…a gal who moved to New York City for a job and never looked back. (A locale, by the way, recently rated as one of the best in which to raise a child with autism, ironically.)
I love living in an urban environment. Neighbors, sidewalks, sushi a block away and authentic Indian food on the speed dial. People from diverse backgrounds and numerous universities and colleges right next door. So we settled in Baltimore before we had kids… jobs, family, friends.
I know the local Chinese restaurant’s owner by her first name (Li Ho, she’s awesome), and she knows our regular order. But the one thing a city (any city) rarely has is a great school district. Especially for kids with special needs. Hell, we send our typical kid to a private school, are you kidding me? One with autism… there’s not a choice here.
So we’ve hemmed. We’ve hawed. We’ve see’d and we’d saw’d. Do we move? Do we fight? Do we settle? Buy all the services we need privately? But good lord, the bills, the bills.
In the end, it’s pre-determined. We will stay here because, quite frankly, it’s too hard for me right now to leave. And my family is here in Maryland. Mom and Dad, three sisters, four nieces, one nephew, one cat, one English Lab, and one pit-bull mix.
And I’m a city girl, maybe not born and bred, but by choice. I like it here, with all of Baltimore’s troubles and warts. Maybe, even because of it. I run into John Waters in the local grocery store. John Waters! Is there anything more fabulous than running into John Waters in the store? He’s fabulous, fabulous. (Did I say he’s fabulous?)
Good lord, I have three of my best friends within three City blocks of me, what more could you ask?
Plus, the City just agreed to place my son in an appropriate Level 5 school, so moving would jeopardize all that.
As for my husband, maybe it’s because he moved “down South” so many years ago. (He’s from northern Connecticut, born of Boston Irish Catholics.) Maybe it’s because he comes from a family of (mostly) boys and I come from a family of girls. But, it’s easy for my husband to contemplate moving and it’s so hard for me to do it.
Theoretically, I am ready to move. New Jersey has the best services, so I’ve heard. Our DAN! doctor is in Richmond, VA… how are the schools there? My sister lived in Richmond for a while; looks like a nice place.
My husband could get a job in two seconds in California. It’s the Home of his People, the Tech Folk. Those Tech Folk have lots of kids with autism, a built-in community of peeps. How about Boston? Close to the hubby’s family and still a fun City. Lots of Tech Folk there.
A while back, we did a little search to find the absolute best school for children with autism. We made a lot of phone calls, did tons of internet research and emailed many administrators and consultants.
Turns out, no such thing really exists. Oh, there’s the “truly awful” coupled with the “mediocre” followed by the “pretty good”. But there’s no Harvard of autism schools, at least none that I’ve found. Have you? If so, let me know.
So here we stay. In John Water’s land, picking crabs that have been steamed in Natty Boh, eating steamed shrimp and drinking Rolling Rocks at the Cross Street Market, watching the Orioles give up another season, cheering the horses running the Preakness, and hoping that the Ravens will go all the way again this year. And coping with a child with autism. And Tourettes. And a mood disorder.
Hand me another Rolling Rock, I think I’ve earned it.