Special Needs, Special Times Details Category: Pink Owl Published: Thursday, January 21, 2016 Written by Kristen Schroeder Tommy update:) It's been awhile since I've updated you guys on my son; I didn't mean to leave anyone hanging for words about what’s up with the graduated boy! Here's some background, to catch you up/refresh you: http://bit.ly/1zHt13d All is well. To be honest, although it's all well and good, it is a tad frustrating at times to be kind of in the same place. Everyone is familiar with the phrase, “no news is good news?” Well, in our case, I think if things aren’t chaotic and I’m not having to fight for something for him, that is what "no news is good news means." I’m so used to delays, and funding, and fighting for accommodations and rights, that it’s actually pretty weird to just be... waiting. Since our trip to the ever-efficient DMV, we've had a few adventures. Tommy and I bravely tried to go to college- community college, that is. Tommy confidently told the college counselor he wanted to be a Jedi knight, or, if that wasn't a valid major, perhaps an adventure archeologist (think Indiana Jones) was another option… The counselor suggested he take karate. Um, no. We aren't paying for that. I asked about online courses and was told freshman don't get to take online courses, so he could ride the Fred-bus, for free, from North Stafford down to the Massaponax exit. Again, no. While I appreciate your (the college counselor) confidence in my son, I maintain the realistic mom perspective, who has been living with him for his entire life… It just wasn't feasible. I’m serious about having to remind this child to do everything. Problem solving skills and things specialists like to refer to as executive functioning skills are totally lacking in the make-up that is Tommy. So… No college. Not for right now, anyway. Tommy with Tomo We did get news that in October the funding for special needs kids/adults to get services at the training center in Fishersville was open and his spot in line had come up- Were we interested? YES! Absolutely, yes.. So, in May, Tommy will go for transitional living skills, and evaluations for future job training. That training would probably be done in Fishersville as well, at a future date. I'm both elated and terrified. It’s kind of weird (that word again) for things to be working out (slowly, yes, but forward moving, for sure). The Department of Aging and Rehabilitative Services (DARS) has been wonderful. We have the best case worker, and she really has listened to us (both Tommy and my husband and me) and has worked to get him on the list to receive services. I wish I had known about them three years ago, though. I was thinking this time last year that Tommy would make it into one of the collegiate autism programs. Because he was “college bound” and on target for graduating with a standard diploma, I wasn’t aware of the services/school in Fishersville. I wasn’t aware of anything other than the colleges that take on autistic students, partially my fault, being so sure that he’d get in. In hindsight it would have been easier to transition Tommy if this process was started three years ago. This is a known issue- that the resources for autistic people are out there, but it's hard to learn about them. There are gaps in communication between teachers, job coaches, and clients (which means us- the parents of children with autism). The gaps are closing, albeit slowly. The Parent Resource center and the disAbility Center in Fredericksburg are excellent places to find out about services, classes, workshops, etc. They are staffed by wonderfully helpful people, too. I can tell you that no one has been hiding these services in the background, waiting to be stumbled upon. It’s just that the right people aren't aware of them all. So, what are we doing in the meantime? Well, we are waiting for May. We’re trying to get good habits of getting up, getting dressed, grooming, etc. established and maintained. It's hard, when there isn't much for him to do, though. He volunteers at the library one day and goes to church on Sunday. He's started a blog (at my insistence), and posts a couple of times a week (also at my insistence). Other than that, he listens to music (classic rock), dreams about time travel, obsesses over finding lost artifacts, speaks about the conspiracy of alien technology, thinks about appraising swords, and mentally trains to be a ninja/survivalist/shaolin monk. It’s certainly hard to see him sitting in the same position, on the same couch every day. It’s especially hard when anyone tries to offer helpful suggestions such as ‘just volunteer more’, or ‘maybe he can be a greeter at Wal-Mart”. Well, the Wal-mart gig is a program one has to qualify for, and the volunteering is in conjunction with a librarian that we have known for several years, who knew Tommy, and graciously ‘took him on’ so-to-speak. I don’t mean to sound mean, but when I get these kind of suggestions, I feel like I’m not trying hard enough to help him be successful. Also, Tommy, in short doses, seems just like a quirky kid. Not everyone gets to experience Tommy for several weeks in a living environment. It’s different, I assure you. He’s not just quirky. Yet he's so smart, and funny, and loving, and… I could go on and on. However, he needs reminders, and patience, and time, and more reminders. And I just love him so much, and I really do want the best for him:) Tommy with his baby sister So, to all of us special needs parents: carry on! We are all in it together, and we need to do things like blog, share on Facebook, and all matters of social media to let everyone know what is out there for our kiddos. Also, like I’ve said before, don’t be afraid to share. I know I’ve been a blessing to others, and for sure, there have been many occasions when I’ve been blessed. From talking to listening, or by offering to run an errand, or when you pick up another child from school, anything you can do in order to give another parent a break, these can be the things that make or break a day. Sometimes ten extra minutes in your routine is all you need to accomplish a mountain of “to-dos”. It’ll be appreciated. Promise. But we can’t help each other if we aren’t sharing with each other.