My daughter with autism is entering the adult worldBy Lisa Jones
This guest blog is from Lisa Jones. Lisa is the mother of two from Boston. She was an early intervention teacher assistant for 14 years. Currently, she spends her time being an advocate for her daughter Allyson who is 22 and autistic.
My daughter Allyson is 23 years old. Allyson finished her transition program over a year ago and is in the middle of her journey into the adult world. There are so many things written about children with special needs, but I have discovered there is not a lot written about young adults with special needs. This is especially the case with those who have high-functioning autism, who may or may not have additional issues, but they still need considerable assistance of some form. This will be my fourth article I have written. My hope is that it may give help or some form of hope for one person.
We are utilizing the programs we have to their fullest. Allyson is assigned a skills trainer that comes to our home and work on life skills either at home or out in the community. Finding the right person who best fits with Allyson and our family takes time. It doesn’t always happen the first time around, but it does happen. When you find the right person, it can be very rewarding. Allyson has spent the last eight weeks taking a culinary class three days a week. She has earned several certificates that will help her find a job, one she will enjoy and one she can be proud of.
The one aspect all these programs can’t stop is growing up, having a social life, and finding that one special person. That one person they want to spend all their time with and one that returns the same feelings to them.
As a parent and as a mother I have spent her whole life trying to protect her and love her: making sure she doesn’t get hurt, making sure she has everything she needs to progress and become as independent as possible, to enjoy and be able to handle all that life might bring to them. So as you might guess, reaching this juncture in her life is not easy, and you continue to worry. You don’t want to stop them from falling in love or having a life of their own, but you struggle with balancing protecting them and giving them the freedom you know they deserve—the independence you have helped them work towards their whole life. As a mother, this has been my life: to love and protect her, but now I have to learn to let go and let her experience all that life offers, at least the things you know she can handle and offer assistance and guidance to the things that need guidance.