Making the switch from parenting young kids with autism to teens and adults can be challenging. Kids grow up so fast, and their needs change as they get older. The teen and young adult years are particularly tough because the push toward independence kicks into high gear.
There are so many overlapping behaviors, and I’m learning that some teen stuff is normal. Autism and ADHD will always play a role, but at the end of the day, they’re still teenage boys, and they’re going to be going through adolescent boy stuff.
My current focus is on helping Gavin to move out of the house and move on with his life. We (my incredibly supportive gf and I) have had several meetings with the Department of DD already, and Gavin has been approved for services. We’ve been helping him to slowly forge a path forward.
Gavin wants to be as independent as possible. He wants a job. He wants friends, and he wants to live on his own. He’s almost 23 years old and wants to be treated as such.
As significant as this time is for Gavin, it’s also significant for me. It took a long time to emotionally rise to the occasion because I had so many conflicting feelings about moving Gavin out of the house.
He’s likely to be in a group home setting, and while that’s still a little way down the road, it’s definitely on the horizon.
Currently, we’re focusing on day services and job training. Day services will help him gain some work experience, make some money, and build upon his social skills. The job training will help him to find something he can support himself with. This will get him out of the house during the week and he will spend time with other people his own age.
He’s also joining some social groups. They have regular art and game nights. Gavin is so excited about this but he’s also nervous as well. I think he struggles with why he’s nervous, but I feel like these are big changes for him, and it makes sense that he’d be a little nervous.
We have a meeting after Christmas about job training and we’ll be touring some of the day services this coming week. We want to find him the best possible match.
While all this is happening, we’re also trying to help the other two prepare for life after high school. Elliott wants to enter the workforce immediately after graduation, and Emmett wants to pursue something in the culinary field.
I’d be lying if I said this wasn’t stressing me out, but I’m proud of how far we’ve all come. There is so much more to the autism parenting journey as our kid’s age into adulthood. Autism doesn’t disappear at 18 years of age. Services and supports are more important than ever.
I’m so grateful that I don’t have to navigate this alone. I’m thankful that we’ve made it this far, and I look forward to my kids spreading their wings.
How old are your kids? What’s your journey been like, and what are your plans for life as your kids move toward adulthood?