We have been told by some other parents that our expectations are much to high. If you really think about it though....they aren't unreasonably high. We expect that our son will be able to live on his own with minimal support. We expect that our son will be able to hold a job or possibly run his own business.
At this point we have one regret. That he has to live with the label. Most people never had to live with a label....jokingly we will tell people that everyone has some form of autism. It is kind of like having a stick of chewing gum or a piece of chocolate. Choosing, as we did, to do things differently from most parents, is kind of like going with the line, "Life is like a box of chocolates", and although I despise the Forrest Gump allusion...it is apt. You never know which one is which until you pick your chocolate. That and you never know if you are gonna get the chocolate nougat or the Oreo cream and depending who you are depends on if you like it or not. Choosing us, as God picked me, and the cuter half, to have the kid we have. We were chosen. Not anyone else and certainly not the so-and-sos. Maybe that is half the problem....being chosen means that we have to work harder, try more and do more than most parents. Although many of them don't know WHAT they are missing, they aren't getting the fulfillment that we have because we got PICKED. Other’s don’t get picked…maybe getting chosen without being asked is all the difference in the world
But everyone has autism. Everyone in some form or another gets chosen. Our son has the label. Back in the day people had it but there was no label....or the label was different and the kids were expected to fit in the best way they could....it was harder.....but maybe not. Maybe it was harder to teach the kids but in the long term the highest functioning kids did better off being expected to maintain and stay with the kids in the classroom and be forced to sit in a chair.
Like the boy was at N. He had to sit int he chair or go to the ALS site. WE all learned a lot about ALS; I didn't know what it was at first. I was GLAD to not know what it was....I didn't WANT to know what it was. I knew the boy spent most of his time there at the beginning of school at W. I was OK with that. He got bored enough being in ALS that he decided going to the classroom was better than being stuck there. THAT was when he learned to sit in a chair in class during the day.
Like kids on the spectrum: Gen People get stuck on their own things, like horses, dolls, shoes, cars, homes, money, greed, power; you name it.
Our kids get just as stuck a little more often and may be harder to unstick. For example, our son's interests have changed over the years. He liked trains, then cars, then boats, then fishing (still likes that) then.....well you get the picture. Slowly his interests are catching up to his peers. It is taking him longer...largely because of the language delay he had when he was younger. But the one thing that has stayed was the coooking. He loves to cook....he loves to eat and he is now doing great with the cooking end of things.....it will get better and he will be a chef somewhere...
It is our expectations that have created the interest changes though. we never allowed him to get stuck permanently. Over time, the cuter one and I have expected the boy to change and have encoraged the alterations. For example, today we needed a simple recipe for refrigerator pickles. He went to his "library" of cookbooks and started looking. He and I decided to look online and see what was there....we found one, and although it looked simple it was pretty time consuming. We made some basic changes to the second one we did and then decided to try mini pickles with tarragon.
I know to you that seems boring and lame. Well to us it isn't. the boy took a recipe, changed it and was willing to experiment with the outcome. That is cool. He felt secure enough in our encouragement....and the fact that the only thing we had for one of his recipes was tarragon that we are trying garlic tarragon mini pickles. Being comfortable in his own skin means that he can and will experiment. Just like his hero Mario Butali; trying new things giving it a shot...what is there to loose (pickles that we got for free to see what works for them). But Mario tries new stuff and is secure enough to give vegetables a chance....pretty impressive.
As parents of kids on the spectrum if we don't expect we don't get. that means we have to work harder and push the kids more. We are tough....and although there are people who will be doing the line dance and toga when the boy graduates there will be a gladness for them. They will KNOW he is all he can be and will be more because his parents have expectations. The boy will work to the highest expectation available. He will not go higher than that.
Frankly, the cuter half and I have been discussing a couple of things. Really our son leaving the N district meant that academically he has been less but School wise he is given more opportunities. For example when he left N he was at a Jr in HS reading level. When he graduated from gen middle school he was at 4-5th grade. HE DROPPED a good 4-5 years. OMG in a gen school the boy's rate of learning had DROPPED- how did that happen. Once the cuter one and I realized that there were negative academic changes we decided to push. We push him hard. We push the teachers hard....we aren't shy and we certainly don't have the demure thing down....think the cuter one and the sledgehammer wife.....that is about as subtle as we get.
The boy doesn't like being pushed (who does?) and there are times when we will argue with him. There are also times when we will unhook the cable, take away the video games and loose the TV outlets.....
IT is called having expectations and although it would be nicer for us to have a drink, relax and not worry about it....we would not be as stressed out, not have spent as much $$ on therapy and not had to explain the details to the boy. But then we would be different people, and as such maybe we wouldn't have been the people to be banished from one location or maybe we would be so laid back we could float.....
The thing is, once we stop having expectations is when we have to save up to build a basement. The boy would have to live somewhere and as I tell people now, he can't live in our basement, we don't have one.