Each One Is Different: Our daughter’s boarding school offers a transition weekend program each school year. Over five years, I attended three of these weekends. Amongst an offering of workshops on a range of relevant topics, the program includes a panel of parents whose children graduated from the school and are now in that phase of life termed adulthood “special needs style”. The stories are compelling, and we all sit on the edges of our seats, listening, learning and wondering, can we do this, can we avoid this, can our children make it?
No One Fix: What stares one in the face is a simple fact: “there is no one fix.” Darn! No silver bullet here. Just as every adult child is different in needs, geography, skills, family resources and funding, so is each story. Some return home and stay home, living with their families, but working in the community and receiving services. Some move to their own apartments, work and receive services. Some live in supported living communities, working, socializing and being appropriately supervised. Others go to higher learning institutions and complete college degrees. Some marry.
None Are Static and No Plan is Forever: These are riveting truths that emerge from these stories: what works for the first three years needs to be changed for the next three, eight or ten. Nor are the young adults static; they keep growing, gaining skills, readiness for more independence, new jobs, new training. Are they any different in that way from our “typical children”? No and Yes. The no is that all our children grow and change. The yes is that the level of need is different and the level of parental, familial or social service involvement is different.
A Couple Of Moms Share: Since I began the daily posts, two moms have shared “aging out” anecdotes: One mom whose daughter graduated a year ago, emailed that her daughter “spent 6 long months at home with no activities, no friends, and no work before a place opened in the supported living program we had chosen. She has been there 3 months and loves it!” But their journey is not over. The program is not a recognized “vendor” so they are now fighting to get their daughter “self-vendored” to receive the necessary funding to keep her there. Another mom whose daughter has two more years before she “ages out” and returns home, is concerned that though her daughter has successfully worked at a retail chain in their area, even has a nice network of friends there, the residential piece is missing and is likely to remain so for a while.
The Crazy Quilt: Each quilt looks different, keeps changing, new patches are added, frayed ones removed. Special indeed.
©Jill Edelman, M.S.W., L.C.S.W. 2011