Transition into adulthood. What does that actually mean?
I think the boys have the idea that turning 18 is going to open the door to a magical new world. One in which they find girlfriends, start driving, no longer require a carer to take them out, travel independently and everything else that they see everyone else doing.
In reality, there won’t be an instant change though how I am to tell them that?
Yes, we can take them to the pub for a pint but they don’t actually like beer. And that’s about the only change that will happen for them on their actual birthday. Oh and they will officially be adults but what difference will that make?
Behind the scenes aka me, everything is in motion. Endless assessments and meetings and form filling to ensure that they get what they need financially and educationally. Currently we get 4 hrs a week per boy in direct payments which is meant to cover someone to take them out, to teach them social skills, to teach them travel training and other life skills like cooking, budgeting and shopping. So, of course, they haven’t had a chance to learn these things all in 4 hrs a week but it’s time that they did. I juggle their hours constantly and decided that social skills ie getting out and about, in Thomas’ case to go running and for Benjamin to go swimming and to the gym were priorities to use those hours on. After all, I am no cook either so for now , we will cook for them and look after them but one day they do need to start learning these skills for themselves.
They will also have to leave their very small special needs school this summer where they have been for the past 8 years and go to a large college but not until September and not until I have finalised it and we have got a new EHCP. More about that later.
It’s surreal to look back and remember where they started out, as non verbal 3 year olds when they were diagnosed with classic autism and very little hope for their futures. Ok, they will never drive a car, live totally independently or do the things other people take for granted that their 18 year old sons will do like going clubbing, go on holidays with their ‘mates’or but we don’t have the anxieties that go with this, worrying about our children smoking, drinking too much, taking drugs or dropping out of college. It’s like our boys are suspended in a time warp of early teenage years where the future hasn’t quite arrived but they are living a great life while they await it.
I’m not sure they really know what they are missing out on, do they even feel they are missing out at all? I wonder if we pass our hopes onto them and so it is really us who feel we are missing out. They hate to read, they can’t comprehend fiction, I would be lost without books but they aren’t. Perhaps Thomas looks at me in the same way and wonders how I can live without football or running. So we have learnt over the years not to compare their lives with anyone else’s but to compare theirs with how they were and how they are now and keep looking ahead to the future.