Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Bittersweet Farms

My daughter Elissa and I took some of the grandkids, Kyle and Josh, and her nephews, Dom and Aiden, to Bittersweet Farms. It’s a residential and support program for autistic adults and adolescents. It was founded over twenty years ago by my close friend BettyeRuth Kay, a pioneer in the treatment of autism and related disorders. She died early after a valiant battle with breast cancer; her strong spirit lives on.

Bittersweet Farms is in Waterville, Ohio, about half an hour from Toledo, out past the airport and into the Ohio countryside. What a beautiful time of year to take a day trip. White and pink crabapple, cherry trees, weeping willow, magnolia, forsythia, bright orange quinze, deep redbuds, and tulips are in full bloom, and the forests are turning green. It’s like driving through a Norman Rockwell painting of small town America.

We took a quick tour of the farm, where residents and day clients plant vegetables, flowers and herbs. We bought a few pretty flower pots overflowing with the results of their labors. We admired the art work done by residents, like the colorful mural in the photo collage above. We met Vicki, the executive director, and some residents. We had lunch and enjoyed the grounds, which include a greenhouse and several new buildings. The kids picked dandelions for their moms. We breathed in the fresh air, and calmed our spirits, a challenge with four lively kids running hither and thither like rabbits.

I also left one of Loren’s books, An Asperger Journey, with Vicki. I told her a little bit about it, the story of how my brother grew up without diagnosis or intervention, struggling on his own, with the aide of our mom, to understand and survive. A courageous journey to selfhood. Vicki understood; she said she looked forward to reading the autobiography. She said she would probably want a few more to sell in their gift shop. That would be great, and I would have another reason to return to Bittersweet Farms, and help Loren spread the word.

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