Get Started Now: Our daughter has been participating in the Ability Beyond Disability adult program for 2 plus months with the residential piece in place for the last 6 weeks. As I track this transition to independent living with supports, I am mindful that readers who have more recently joined this narrative may not benefit from its history unless they go to the first months of posting (April, 2011). The purpose of “Parenting Adult Special Needs: One Day At A Time” is to provide a template of one family’s journey which might serve as an outline of sorts for others who are earlier in the process of planning for their special needs child’s adulthood.
Rimmed With Concerns: Whatever the day, whether at birth or 3 years later, that a family grasps that their child has “issues”, the collective family mind starts cranking out some pretty scary images: an adult alone and uncared for; a family beleaguered with bills, isolation or servitude; an adult child without skills, unable to earn money or have friends; someone who may never marry; may never have children. Reels of worry, one dismal image after another. Or magical thinking: “They will surely out grow this;” or denial: “Let’s get another opinion, these people don’t know everything.” I know the frantic search to find someone who will say, “It is just a phase, a delay, some wax in the ear, a sibling doing all the talking for them, needs more socializing. Don’t worry, my Johnny, Susan or Kathy had the same issues at that age and he/she is Phi Beta Kappa from Harvard now.” The days bring more worrisome feedback, the years more data, ups, downs, highs and lows. Yes, it is the proverbial seesaw but, rather than solely grasping at straws of hope, get started pursuing resources, knowledge and support.
A Sketch: This blog is a sketch of a unique child, living in a particular state in a specific country at a certain time in social history: so many variables that may differ widely amongst readers. However, it is still the basic story of a mission to realize an adult life for a child with special needs. Take a peek back at the beginning, post questions on the blog, email me or send these posts on to others who will likely be making this journey as well. Life is long, if we are lucky, and children maturate in their own way over time. But if you have an inkling that your child might need a very active sculpting hand of a parent to get to a secure adulthood, get your chisel out now.
©Jill Edelman, M.S.W., L.C.S.W. 2011