I’m a sucker for New Year’s retrospectives and goal-setting – on behalf of my autistic kids and myself. The obsessive list maker in me loves the scrawled “what did we accomplish” and “where have we yet to go” lineups in my old fashioned paper journal. Somehow the naked reality of a little word on a tally of hopes turns a dream into a stepping stone on the foot path to reality – however small.
Yet Age 22 looms ever larger ahead of W. and J. -that vaunted time when the happy school bus doesn’t beep-beep in the driveway any more in our state, and the officially adult disabled life path begins. It’s a scary thought. Just yesterday I asked a trusted babysitter about her soon to be age-22 brother and how her family felt about the impending transition. Her answer was sobering indeed.
I want 2013 to be filled with so much for W and J. Truly each one made nice gains in self care and communications realms. J’s overcoming his fear of a shower so that he now prefers one over a tub bath starts each morning with a smile for me. And W’s ability to state his needs, even by standing up at a restaurant when he wants to leave or whacking me in the head when I’m not paying attention to him – literally – is the voice of a young man saying “I’m here – look at me” – however inelegant.
But we have so vastly much more to go on the journey to adult living and working. As always with their functioning level I feel like I’m bailing out the ocean with a thimble. Or, in the more appropriate metaphor, the mountain is so far away and winter winds of naysaying teachers and state services gatekeepers so harsh, that I worry we will never summit. Instead will we forever journey, always upward yet never much beyond – always hard and never fulfilled?
There’s no perfect answer here, only New Years faith that each of us, even the profoundly autistic, has beauty within – destiny beyond – and fortitude enough to keep building that path so we are ever closer to the sky.