I spent my Sunday afternoon watching the first season of “As We See It.” The story is about three young adults on the autism spectrum who live in an apartment together. They have a support person who checks in the morning and at night. The best part, all the actors identify as being on the spectrum. The characters are all trying to navigate life, love, and work. Having two kids on the spectrum myself, the show got me thinking. Am I, or am I not, doing the right thing for my kids?
In the series, Jack is a computer genius. He risks getting fired from his job due to his "honesty.” He cannot manage his money. Violet works at Arby’s. She is desperate to be in love and have sex. Harrison struggles with just leaving his room and apartment.
As the first season progresses, I watch each character try to experience love. I know my son wants to get married and have someone. For him to meet someone, he needs to be in the community more. He needs to do that without me hovering over him.
I also fear for my daughter. Yet, I let her move into her own apartment. She has a full-time job to pay for it, but I still worry. Will she get taken advantage of? Will someone break her heart? I have to believe that I have taught her well enough to manage difficult experiences. Parents always doubt themselves.
My son is still home with us. Why haven’t I let him take the same risk?
Back to the show, Jack’s dad wants him to be successful. He knows he won’t always be there for Jack. Violet’s brother wants to protect her. He wants to move her to an institutional setting. Harrison’s family wants to move away to another state. They are fearful of doing so. The family members don’t always see things the same way that individuals with disabilities do.
Why is it so hard for families of individuals with autism or intellectual disabilities to let go? Why can’t we let our kids experience failure? We have been protecting them for a long time. What will happen when we are gone? Do you have a plan? Are you preparing?
Often, we limit possibilities for our kids because we are afraid. That fear prevents many families from moving forward.
I wish I had all the answers. Teaching, and re-teaching, skills take time. Allowing risk-taking involves courage. Teach your kids about respecting their boss and co-workers. Show them how to protect themselves in sexual relationships. Model coping skills. Explain money management. There is lots of technology that can do some of this for our kids. Are you helping them learn how to use technology?
As I see it, I know I am not going to be here forever. I want my son to be as independent as my daughter. I’ve got some work to do to help him. What better time than to begin today. What will you start doing today to help your child be a successful adult?
Find relevant and helpful Information in the Transition to adulthood pages.