The World’s Strongest (Autism) Man

Have you ever seen the show on ESPN “The World Strongest Man”??? I love watching the old versions of those from the 1970s and 1980s and the newer versions. It’s CRAZY! They have these HUGE men who are certainly “naturally strong” and they’re in some remote island or beach or exotic resort and they’re lifting amazing things…small cars, telephone poles, power lifting beer kegs…and my favorite…the 18-wheeler pull.
Seriously…who thinks of these things and how does one really train to pull an 18-wheeler? They put the truck in neutral and have this large rope and the beast of a man just starts pulling…and they actually get momentum and pull it a good distance.
Watching that makes me think of the struggle that so many of us parents (and others) go through when dealing with special needs. It’s really like pulling an 18-wheeler. It can be done. It gets done. But it’s so slow and tedious and you’re moving your body and exerting so much energy and the object moves along…inch by tiny inch.
We live in Ft. Worth, Texas and last year I felt that I needed to take part in local government. No, I didn’t run for mayor or city council–too many meetings and bitching–I applied and was appointed to The Mayor’s Committee on Person’s with Disabilities in Fort Worth.
Am I cool or what? Can you imagine a business card with that title? Seriously…what is it all about?
Well I’ve been involved for about 9 months now and I have to say…it’s mostly meetings…boring meetings. There’s very little jurisdiction to the committee and very little power and of course, zero funds to make a difference. But I truly believe there are people on the committee who want to be a part of change and making something happen in the City.
The City can also be thought of as an 18-wheeler trying to be pulled by a scrawny fella like me.
It’s just like dealing with our 5-year-old son with autism. It’s just so hard, hard work, hard times, hard emotions…and sometimes very little movement.
The Committee had an open public meeting on Thursday and invited the entire city of Ft. Worth (about 800,000) to attend…as expected, we had about 6 people show up.
It just crushes me that there are people of all ages and stages out there that NEED HELP. They are not trying to get over on the local government…there were people who were hard of hearing who needed assistance. There was a bright lady who had a stroke and was in a wheelchair and wanted help getting around the City and as usual, public transit is very limited. They need help and what is going to be the outcome? The Committee will compile notes, we’ll get an audience with the mayor or city council…we’ll talk about how we need a “Live Chat” option on the city website for those who can’t call bc they can’t hear. We’ll talk about how we need more curb cuts and training for businesses to hire those with special issues…and what is going to happen?
I hope something happens. I’m not holding my breath.
We are all pulling on a rope tied to an 18-wheeler and maybe it’s moving, maybe very slowly, maybe not at all…whether dealing with special needs, autism, hard of hearing, loss of sight…cities are always going to say, “we don’t have the money” and yeah, if they wouldn’t spend unwisely they would…but when has a municipality and government ever spent wisely? What’s to be done? My son is 5-years-old…what’s going to happen to him when he’s 18, 19, 20 years old and maybe attending a public forum of the Mayor’s Committee on Person’s with Disabilities in some city? I’m afraid they’re going to stick with the “we don’t have the funds” excuse.
We are all holding a rope to an 18-wheeler…whatever our situation, cause, passion, disability. We must keep pulling…we might move an inch, we might move more…but we won’t know until we try.
Keep on pulling…one day we might be in The World’s Strongest People contest…I hope so.

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