In August, I'll be accompanying a group of about 20 kids/adolescents/adults with autism to a farm where they'll spend a holiday week.
Well, that's the good part.
What isn't so glorious is how things developed for me to come to this point.
Last year, I found an ad at our university, saying that the communal autism ambulance is looking for students to accompany children and young adults to their holiday trip. I somehow didn't get myself to apply for a position but Linda, a close friend of mine, had been courageous enough to take that challenge.
Anyway, she told us about how great it was and encouraged me and Terry to do the same this year. So, that's what we did. Last week, there was the first official meeting. I couldn't help but get this feeling I was on a cattle market: They showed pictures of every participant, gave some description and the first to announce interest would be the child's custodian for that week.
But before this whole process could start, the supervisor got this embarrassed look at her face... she told us that there was unfortunately one carer too much: They weren't able to find enough children. So, she named the ones of us who applied last and - I'm pretty sure you can already guess - I was one of them. They asked who could cope best with not going on this trip. And looking at the others' hopeful faces, there was no way for me not to volunteer:
"Well, actually..." (Linda's and Terry's faces grew anxious) "I wouldn't kill myself to go with you. I'd like to but I don't have any experience and I don't intend to work in that field later anyway - it would be interesting and some community work, but that's basically all there is to this."
So, I ended up with no child at all. I asked whether I could accompany the whole group, helping out when people need some rest from their children (some of who get up at 4 in the morning and won't sleep until midnight) and document everything with my camcorder. They weren't too enthusiastic because someone would have to pay for my board and lodging, but assured me to find a way.
And so they did: Today, I got a call - they "found" a child for me.
That's all information I have.
So, I'll better prepare myself for the "worst":
- mentally retarded
- no language
- can't eat by himself
- can't wash himself
- possibly around 30 or 40 years and male (FYI, I'm 20)
Gee, what did I get myself into again? I know, it's all my fault but *that*'s not what I wanted. I wanted to do some good and help a brave family to get a week off of a 24-hours-job of looking after a disabled child.
But I have no experience in taking care for someone who need special support. Everybody had the chance to judge whether they thought, they'd be able to put up with certain things (that's why Linda, for example, chose an 8-year-old who is able to speak, can eat alone and goes to bed early). And I sit here, fearing that this is going to be rather an inconvenience than a pleasure - for both, me and the "child".
Keep your fingers crossed that I'll get some information soon.