Sunday, October 10, 2010

The forest is blurry!

Yesterday Simonne (9 years old) asked me if there were still things that I knew that she didn't know.   There was a time when I knew everything, then, the more I knew, the more I realized I didn't know.  I suspect she will realize this too in a few years.

I'm planning to start a company.  I'm going to help families like mine have time to do regular stuff by providing them with caregivers for their child with autism.  I understood this concept very well a couple months ago when I started to write it all down.  Then, as I wrote, I became even clearer on some specific details, illuminating my lack of clarity in other areas.  In fact, the more I know about my own company, the more I see that I don't know.  As I pour over the details of funding, risk determination and umbrella coverage, I get a little myopic... I'm not sure where the forest is as I focus on the very important leaves on the trees.

Keeping the forest clear takes intention, and having a meal with a good friend can help a lot.  At one such meal,  I heard a story about an overwhelmed boy after a challenging day at school, lots of scheduling changes that he found very disorganizing.  He let everyone know this quite vehemently.  His mother has taken on much of his overwhelmed feeling and was not her best self.  My friend shows up to work with her son, the tired mom shares the events of the day and says "I'm so glad you're here.  I'm going to sleep for an hour."  I can't tell you how much of a gift that mom received.  Just in that moment, I saw it, like an old friend that was there all along.  It's the forest, as clear as a ... very clear picture.

That reminded me of a day six and a half years ago.  Zach was a few weeks old, Simonne was a toddler, Jay was 5.  I had an intern working with Jay a few hours each week.  She had become a family friend.  As soon as she walked in the door, I hurried over to her and thrust the almost new born Zachary into her hands.  I urged Simonne into the playroom and said "Please keep everyone in the playroom.  I'm going to sleep for 15 minutes."

So that's the forest: Give parents time to regulate themselves so that they can continue to be there for their children.

Here is where I need your input.  If you have a child with autism,

  • Can you tell me a little about how you meet your childcare needs? If you use friends and family, what do you do or say to prepare them?  
  • what does the ideal caregiver look like?  
  • Would you want help finding caregivers, or help training the ones you find?  
  • If you had the childcare you needed, what kinds of things would you want to do that you now don't easily see the opportunity to do?

Your answers help me keep the point in focus.  Email me at, or add your comment to this post.

By the way, what have you been hyper-focussing on?  What can you do to keep your forest in focus?

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