March 24, 2015


Posted in My Take on Autism tagged , , , , at 2:54 pm by autismmommytherapist

Justin's First Digital Pics 056

It rests precariously on the edge of the countertop, the brightly colored flyer proclaiming “Transition!” in bold letters, urging me to read it and ignore the dinner I’m supposed to be preparing. I toss it into a pile I actually have a prayer of looking at later and return to my prep for potato-chip chicken (I know, worst mom ever, but it’s delish!) I have more mundane matters to attend to right now, like trying to remember where I put the ketchup when I began this endeavor. It will be hours before I return to this invitation, but return to it I will.

My son is almost twelve, will be officially “in transition” in two years. For a planner like me, I know I have to read that paper.

This is not the first missive I’ve received either through the mail or electronically on this topic, but until today I’ve either ignored the emails or tossed the info, deeming it too soon to delve into this arena of Justin’s impending life that I admit I find completely intimidating. I know it’s still early, and that I have wonderful resources at my disposal.

Justin is in an exemplary private school for autism, and I’ve been assured they will do whatever they can to make certain my son is engaged in some productive activity after he graduates at twenty-one. I have friends with adult children who have already passed that “legal to drink” mark, and I know they’ll help me the best they can. There are also a myriad of agencies in New Jersey with fabulous workshops for me to attend in the future, all of which I’m sure will guide me well. But the real conundrum for me is a question only Justin can answer, and I’m not sure he’ll be able

to do so.

What does my boy want to do with his life?

The truth is college, career, and independent living are not in the cards for my son. He can nod “yes” or “no” to uncomplicated questions, and make simple requests on his iPad for items he wants. At some point however I’m going to want his input, and I just don’t think I’ll get it, although I never truly thought he’d speak and at age eleven he now has a few words. I do have a dream for him- that he’ll live on a farm, work the land a few hours a day in some capacity, and have access to horses for frequent riding.

But honestly, I really have no idea if this is what he wants to do. His main activities to date are playing DVDs on his player, engaging in some computer games, and occasionally watching a movie with his mom and brother. He likes a brief daily outing, but mostly he likes to be at home, and by home I mean inside the confines of our house.

Lately, as I’ve been talking to friends in a similar boat, it’s struck me that I will probably be making all the decisions regarding the last sixty years of his life for him. It’s a huge responsibility, one I hope I get right.

As I write my thoughts it also strikes me that I will have to figure out a balance for him, a life comprised of work he may not want to do, coupled with his leisure pastimes which he would engage in all day if we let him. I take a deep breath as I put that mimeographed missive in the “done” pile and walk away, realizing it really is too soon to plan.

The autism landscape is thankfully changing quickly. I simply cannot anticipate what Justin’s options will be in nine years, and more importantly, I can’t know what Justin himself will be like in less than a decade. All I can do is continue to do my best by him, and hope.

And I’m going to hope too that somehow, in his way, he’ll let me know if he’s happy.

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  1. You are the BEST MOM ~ I know in my heart you will make the right decisions for him. xoxoxoxo

  2. Mom said,

    I know you and Jeff will make the best decision with the information that you will have at that time. And the changes in Justin the past two years have been amazing. With your love and support he will continue to surprise us. Love, mom

  3. And you know that there are those of us that will always be there to tell you what is happening in the landscape of the adult world. We are all a team, and you may get many opinions, but you will never be short of information.

  4. This really spoke to me. Although our guys are different from each other as well as the “typical,” these are the same things that keep me up at night.
    Like you, I need to trust that somehow things will work out. But that sounds so vapid, with all the variables…I know you understand.
    Thanks for this,

  5. inailau said,

    I can certainly relate to putting things in the ‘read soon’ pile 🙂 My heart goes out to you as I read this all-too-familiar article. I am reminded of my own journey with 2 of my boys that also have autism. Its as if you took the words out of my mind and eloquently wrote it out here. Like you, I find myself wondering if I am doing what my boys really like as well and also hope that it is, to some degree, enjoyable and not just something they do because its required of them. Still, we can only hope and do our best by them 🙂

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