So, I mentioned in one of my blogs that I received some funding from Autism Ontario's Building Brighter Futures Fund. A fund provided by an anonymous donor for autistic adults. I had to submit an application saying what I would use the money for and how it would benefit me. It is a one time fund of $500. Not a large sum but perfect for what I wanted to use it for.
I have been stressing the past few years over the fact that I could not pump gas at the computerized pumps or use a car wash. My husband used to do it for me but he is too busy so I drive across town to the one full serve place. Doing that is a big waste of time. My anxiety got even worse when I got my new car at the end of December. The only time my old car was washed was when my husband had time to take it. I think it went once in the last two years I had it. That can't happen with a brand new car which needs to last many years.
When the funding came along, I applied for it to be used for a support person to teach me to pump gas and go through car washes at various stations and I also wrote that I might also use it for music lessons.
I was accepted for the funding and then I had to find a support person. I wasn't sure where to find the right person. I knew a good place where I could get music lessons though!
My husband and daughter were having their music lessons one Saturday at our house, so I impulsively (as usual!) asked their music teacher, who is also our friend, if she was interested in the job. She said yes, so that took care of support and music all with one person! She runs the music school that my daughter and husband attend.
Even though she knew me from coming to our house socially, I thought it would be good for my friend/support person to speak to my autism consultant. In doing this, she was instructed in the way I learn best- slowly and with lots of practice. I wasn't sure how things would work out considering she is not specially trained in autism and I didn't know what to expect with any of the teaching and going places. I was kind of worried she would rush through it and I wouldn't understand.
It has been great, although for a bit I was in a rough period (I will talk about my new medication in another blog) which had nothing to do with what we were working on. I am gaining some confidence, especially from the singing lessons!
I have gone to several different gas stations and car washes and have even gone to the hazardous waste depot which is very confusing with all of the different areas for different appliances and phones and things like that and then a special area for things like paint, pills etc.
I think the singing has been the biggest thing to help my confidence. I had a horrible experience in school. We had to sing in front of the whole class for our exams. Mine of course didn't work out so I was told to come back individually. I went back and still couldn't do it properly. Way too much anxiety!
After that, I wasn't sure how my current lessons would go especially since my anxiety is even worse and different now. I was able to do it though, quietly and not allowing my teacher to look at me! I had my fidget toy and lyrics also. Singing along with someone or the actual artist on YouTube is easy enough but now we have started using just music. It's really hard but I am getting better at it. We only started that recently.
Another thing I have done with my support person is going to my OT appointment. It was entertaining as usual and we got lots of video. I allow the OT to use it for her presentations. Because I hold myself very stiffly (I don't even swing my arms when I walk), I get pain in my lower back sometimes when I ride. The OT said it would be good to work on hip movement but because I don't have the body awareness and motor planning, I really struggled at isolating my hips. I have many different exercises to work on. It's really hard to do it and also to fit it into the day but I am trying.
Since I have started all of this, I am able to speak up a bit more for myself in certain places.
I had to go somewhere very scary for me last week to get my new medication and my friend drove me down. I was able to tell the person at the dispensary that I am autistic and needed to be shown exactly what to do. It was good that I was able to go and do that on my own (they didn't allow support people in).
If you are autistic and in Ontario, I highly recommend applying for the Building Brighter Futures Fund. It's not like there is much else out there for us.