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Wednesday, October 12, 2011

He's 18...Now What's My Function?

My son turned 18 recently.  Being a milestone birthday was not only important to him but to his father and I as well.  How has our part of being the parents change?  How closely do we monitor his actions?  How big a part do we continue to play in his life?  All good questions and just a few of the ones that have been playing over and over again in my mind recently.  I haven't come up with many concrete answers but I do know this for certain, I am his mother and I'll continue to play a big a part of his life that he will allow.  Although he is 18, emotionally he is quite younger due to the Autism and he still needs guidance making major decisions.  My prayer is that he will remain open to our suggestions and turn to us in times of need or when he gets overwhelmed.

He lives in an apartment now and is doing quite well.  He's receiving SSI, Medicaid, food stamps, bus tokens, vocational training, and support from at least three organizations that meet with him weekly and continue to teach him life skills.  We fought a hard fight (that's another long story that will be coming out in book form soon) and we lined up the benefits he needed to live a self sufficient life. 

With all this lined up for him why should I be worrying?  I'm his mother and it's one of my privileges.  What if we missed something?  What if he needs additional services?  Well, we'll have to take that one speed bump at a time.  I could play the 'what if' game all day long and it doesn't change things...we have done what we could, with what we had, when it was needed.  Sometimes it was heartbreaking and others just tedious but always essential.  For our mental health's sake we need to realize that we did what was necessary for his well being.  We can't second guess what has already taken place.

The moral of this life journey?  Do what you have to, but keep your eyes and ears open to new methods and programs.  Your child's life story hasn't been written in stone yet.  Investigate and listen to the voices of the parents who have traveled this road before you and the professionals who have your child's welfare in mind.  There's no good in repeating others mistakes.  Look, listen, launch.  The keys to letting go when they reach adulthood.

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