It started with a glass of wine and a crab cake. I know what you're thinking, how can anything bad start with a glass of wine and a crab cake? It's hard to believe, but, that's when the conversation started and ever since then, the crazy train has left the station.
My husband and I were enjoying a night out with good food and wine. Maybe it was the wine (it's always nice to have the wine be the fall guy), but, chances are this has been weighing on my mind recently in light of a few conversations I've had with mothers of adult autistic children. What happens next?
While our kids our school age, we know what the future holds...math, reading, writing, gym, etc, but, after graduation, when you are done celebrating and the cap and gown have been tucked away with pride, the struggle to find employment for an autistic individual can be daunting. It is real. It is difficult. And it is currently driving my train.
Thirty six hours before Ryan even began high school, I looked over my glass of wine at my husband and I blurted out, "I'm worried Ryan's social struggles will prevent him from getting a job". Gulp of wine. Then another. There, I said it. Cats out of the bag and it jumped on the crazy train with me and has left the station,
Always my voice of reason and the one who can stop my crazy train in its tracks, my husband said, "Yeah, he might". What?! No! Clearly he forgot his role. My husband's job is to pat my hand and say, "Now, now dear let's not get carried away, he will be fine' then grab a tow hitch and pull my crazy ass back to the station, but, he didn't. Instead, he boarded the crazy train with his wine and sat right next to me. I almost chucked my wine glass at his head (not the crab cake though...I'm not that crazy).
I know, I know, I always preach and lecture while shaking my finger at you that you need to see your present child because you will miss so much worrying about your future child, yet, here I am, the hypocrite, obsessing and fretting about future Ryan for days. If he gets an interview will he make eye contact long enough to impress them? If they say something funny and he doesn't get it, so he doesn't laugh, will they think he's rude? If he gets the job and is unable to participate in the office water cooler banter will his co-workers think he is rude and standoffish? And on, and on, and on. (Insert train whistle here.)
Since my husband is clearly not towing me back to the station, I have had to pull myself back on my own. I don't have a crystal ball, so, I don’t know if Ryan's inability to pick up social cues or his struggle with back and forth conversation will impede him from getting the job of his dreams or any job for that matter. What I do know is that I have to continue giving Ryan the support he needs NOW. I have to be here for him TODAY, so that I can prepare him as best I can for TOMORROW and in order to do that, I need to try not to let my brain board the train and go off the rails.
And even though this is not the first time I have gone on this train (nor will it be the last), I have to remember before I board again, that from the very first time I heard The A Word, I have been helping Ryan find his way little by little, day by day, track by track. And this AWEsome boy has proven to me time and time again, that his tomorrows belong to him, he is the conductor, not me. Yes I will worry, yes I will occasionally lose my mind, but, through it all, I must remember that it is my job to support him and advocate for him then sit back and see where the ride takes him.
Oh, above all else, I better remember to practice what I preach.