I just realized that I will soon have three teenage daughters. Wow! When did life start moving so fast? In less than two years all of my children will be in high school. In less than six years, all my babies will be adults.
Soon they will all venture out into the great big world.
This reality is speeding at me like a freight train without brakes. Some days I feel prepared for them to find their own path in life. Other days I am in sheer panic thinking about how they will exist without me attending to their daily lives.
As they have grown, they have each become unique, wonderful, talented human beings. I guess no mother is totally prepared for their children to fly away on their own sturdy wings. But, what about moms with children on the spectrum? Do we worry more about how life will treat our children?
Should we worry about the what ifs in life?
The fact is, autistic children grow up to be autistic adults. One does not simply outgrow autism. Sure, education and various therapies will help but it will not make autism disappear. Many people think that autism is a childhood disorder. Speaking as an autistic adult, it is not. So what should adults with autism do with their lives? The simple answer is, whatever they want.
We can work, go to college and have families. The most important thing for parents to remember is, we autistics can and do have fulfilling lives. I do consider myself fortunate because I am an autistic adult so my daughters already have a tour guide for their adulthood.
I have already been to college, had various jobs and experienced family and marriage with autism as my constant companion. I have the advantage of being able to tell them what I have learned along the way.
Many individuals on the spectrum attend college, trade schools and other continuing education institutions. When it comes time for my girls to decide what to do, we fully investigate the school or trade school. They’ll decide if they want to live at home or live on campus. They’ll talk to current students. Most importantly, they’ll find out what services are available to support their needs.
It’s exciting to see that, today, there are a number of colleges and universities with specialized programs for autistic students. If their school of choice doesn’t have a specific autism program, we will look for an office for students with special needs or challenges. We’ll make sure we visit campuses to see and learn about their services in person.
We’re already discussing career options.
It is extremely important that my daughters choose careers that they are interested in pursuing. I’m encouraging them to take their clues from what interests them. One of my daughters loves taking pictures. Now that she is just two years away from entering college, we have started looking at careers that involve photography. We are using her strengths as her career path.
I listen closely to their fears as well as their dreams for the future.
Growing up is difficult for everyone, especially those of us on the autism spectrum. Adulthood brings huge changes to daily life. This seismic shift can produce unimaginable anxiety. I’ll always make sure my daughters have all the supports they need to succeed.
Never give up!
Remember, given the right opportunities our autistic loved ones will thrive at whatever they want to do with their lives.
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