Will he make it when I’m gone?
That’s the question that keeps me up at night.
His needs have been many, since he entered this world.
The sunlight burned his eyes, and fabrics felt unbearable against his skin.
He struggled to speak clearly, even as a six year old.
His frustration evident in angry outbursts.
Often peppered with colorful language that would make a seasoned sailor blush.
With impulsivity that seemed to have a mind of its own.
We feared he’d say the wrong thing, at the wrong time and to the wrong person. We invested a lot in straightening those teeth.
We’d love to see them stay where they are.
Lighting fast, he’d wander off, unattended for a moment.
The panic of a parent, is an experience all its own.
Sometimes with the help of neighbors, we’d locate him without harm.
The subjects he studied in school were exclusion, depression and trauma. The occasional academic lesson would find its way in.
This is not a problem caused by any one person.
A reboot of a system, a mindset and values around difference, is in order.
Fearing his lack of social connections would forever lock him out.
He blew us away when he expressed interest in getting a job.
I accompanied him to the interview.
Waiting with the vigilance of a Papa Bear.
He impressed the interviewer and was hired on the spot.
Thank you to the team at McD’s for giving him a chance.
It has been almost three years since that day.
He’s king of the drive-through.
Even with his unique way of speaking, and difficulty finding words.
He’s making it work.
He started college courses in welding, a natural from the start.
His wisdom is in his body, movement.
Something he wasn’t allowed to experience or explore in school.
But today is cause for great celebration.
It is the second day of his first full time job.
Not in welding, yet!
A substantial increase in pay, more opportunities for movement,
and a giant step forward in becoming the adult we hoped he’d be able to be.
Time, resources, a cultural evolution and of course he, will determine how far he goes.
How has he come so far, you ask?
As someone on the autism spectrum myself. I assumed the role of student and scientist.
My research and daily field tests led to an understanding of the autism experience few have been able to articulate, or so I’m told.
A treasure chest of insights and strategies that have helped move him through the most challenging times. That, and working diligently to find the right professionals to support us in the journey.
It’s taken his own commitment and resilience to get him here.
It’s taken the teachability and unwavering commitment from those around him.
It’s taken HIS village, to believe in, love him and often sacrifice, so he can succeed.
Time, effort and resources well spent.