Friday, September 26, 2008

Working at Home in Ohio

What a dignified, empowering, and productive concept. Bittersweet Farms is an 80-acre working farm in rural Ohio (my home state). Working the land and calling it home are adults with autism. Recognized nationally, Bittersweet Farms also provides consultation to others wanting to replicate their model. An article in the Toledo Blade chronicles its success and a book was written about Bittersweet as well.

In Vermont a similar place called INSPIRE was featured in the news here.

I watched a fairly depressing documentary this summer called Her Name is Sabine. I don't exactly recommend it because I prefer more hopeful stories. However, I mention it because Sabine ends up in a bucolic group home with caring people that looks as sweet as Bittersweet. The pity is that before arriving there she has been victim to all manner of mistreatment and damage.

We all need work to do. Work gives us purpose and a sense of importance. Some local homeschooling guru pointed out that when you get right down to basics, all kids really need is something to love, something to think about, and something to do. When I initially heard that, we got a dog. And, re-vamped the chore chart. Reid is more cooperative and pleasant (therefore so are we) the afternoons he is busiest. Homework, piano lessons, band practice, and garbage night keep him on track. Those days actually go smoother than the days when he has free time. I have come to loath 3 day weekends with nothing on the calendar, let alone summer, when free time abounds. I associate them with the inevitable breakdown, meltdown, and video stimming that is a downward spiral for our family. On the Escalation Cycle page of his Behavior Intervention Plan, at the very top is "down time." Unstructured time is the primary antecedent of his battery of negative behaviors. Now, do you see why I over-program family reunions? It's a good thing Jim and I are both Achievers so we can keep up with this. Incidentally, so is Reid.

It will indeed be bittersweet when our kids move out of the house. I am not sure what that will look like for either of them but I like to keep a few ideas in my back pocket. Does anyone have firsthand knowledge of these places? In the meantime, we have work to do.

Sow your seed in the morning, and at evening let not your hands be idle, for you do not know which will succeed, whether this or that, or whether both will do equally well. Ecclesiastes 11:5-7

As long as it is day, we must do the work of him who sent me. Night is coming, when no one can work.
John 9:3-5

May the favor of the Lord our God rest upon us; establish the work of our hands for us— yes, establish the work of our hands. Psalm 90:16-17

"Go to the ant...observe her ways and be wise...
having no chief, officer or ruler, prepares her food in the summer and gathers her provision in the harvest." Proverbs 6:6


  1. The photo of bittersweet brings back wonderful childhood memories for me.

    Your post is very interesting. And the Bible quotes are so appropriate to the subject.

  2. Found your blog from Faces of Autism. I was born and raised in Ohio, though now i live in Michigan. Am impressed with Bittersweet farms too.