Raising a kiddo on the spectrum is a wonderfully painful thing.It is a learning process that never stops. As they grow older new challenges emerge and you have to learn how to handle them as you go.
Dominic is 9 years old, he's got another 9 years until he reaches adulthood. That may seem like a long time but when you're raising a child with a future unknown it feels like it is all happening in a blink of an eye. He has come so far from the non verbal constant melt down little boy that I knew. His vocabulary is not quite that of a 9 year old but he is learning how to communicate more and more everyday. Meltdowns are no longer an everyday thing, when they do happen we are more equipped to handle them.While he has already come farther than I ever dreamed we still have some real challenges that play a part in his adult life.
Processing is one of those challenges. If I were to say to you, please take off your shoes, put them away, and then go wash your hands before dinner chances are you will getup and do everything that I asked you to do. Dominic process information at a much slower speed. If you give him multiple directions at once he will become confused because it takes him so much longer to process what you are saying. If you repeat the request but say it in a different way he will have to completely start over trying to process what you said and become even more frustrated. Now imagine being in a school setting and trying to keep up with the class, unfortunately this is just not possible. At some point in the near future Dominic will have to be moved to a self contained classroom. He is considered low functioning academically. What this means for his future I do not know. I do not know if he will graduate with a regular high school diploma or maybe some kind of certificate.
He often talks about the future, he asks about high school and finding a job. He wants to be an astronaut and go to the moon someday. He has wonderful dreams of his life when he grows up. He wants to learn how to drive and get married although he's said he's afraid he will not find someone who will love him back. He even wants to have children of his own someday. It is bittersweet to listen to him talk about these things. I leave hearing about how he imagines his life will be but then the thoughts of realty creep into my head and I feel so very guilty thinking that those things may never happen. I will always stand behind him 100% and give it my all to make his future what he wants it to be as much as I can. The possibility that he may live with me for the rest of my life is a very real one and I am okay with that but I am still holding on to the hope that his future will be even a fraction of what he dreams it will be.