What Happens When They Grow Up?

One of the most difficult things to think about when raising a child with autism is what happens when they are no longer a child. The unknown is very scary to me. I know there are options and I’ve looked into a few things, but I’ve not actually met a real, live adult with autism.

That is, until Wednesday night.

I had the opportunity to attend a dinner to hear a friend speak about her experience working with a foundation that supports adults with autism and provides financial assistance to adults with adults with autism. This phenomenal local foundation was started by parents of a young man with autism (who also happens to attend Ian’s amazing school) because the options for a child like mine when he reaches adulthood? Not so good. They don’t have work opportunities. They don’t live independently. They have few leisure activities. It worried me. Until I met the Guys.

The Guys.

They were given an opportunity to speak to talk about the financial assistance they recieve and what it means to them. They spoke of a recent trip to NYC with their two  caretakers, amazing women who live in three houses on a large farm. The Guys live in those houses, pay rent, take care of animals. One attends and sings at a local church. Another is into entomology and dinosaurs. Another crochets beautiful blankets (and handed us his business card immediately upon walking into the room). The last one makes and designs clothing and costumes for dolls and works at a local theater. They were funny and charming and wonderful. And they were autistic.

Adults with Autism. Whom I’ve never met.

The best part of the night? When we found out that Crochet guy didn’t speak until age twelve. He reminded me so much of Ian, covering his ears, looking out of the corner of his eye at people, smiling sheepishly and humming. And for the first time I can see the future and have something to look forward to and it’s ok!

The second best part of the night? When Bug/Dinosaur guy cornered my husband for twenty minutes and wouldn’t let up (he found out that my husband studied bugs in college and it was all over) and my poor, socially awkward husband continuously glanced over his shoulder as if to say, “HELP ME!” because he didn’t know how to politely end the conversation without hurting the man’s feelings. And I stood there and watched the exchange while speaking with one of the caretakers because I’m awesome like that.

What was awesome? Their caretakers believe in them. They were given opportunities. They are happy and doing something meaningful. They are thriving. They are comfortable and loved. They weren’t sitting in a room in a group home or an institution watching tv and doing the weekly trip to the store or bowling alley.


And if I can get something half as good for Ian someday? I will be happy. Because he deserves to live as these men are living. He deserves to have a chance to be a functional adult, doing things he enjoys, living independently. And I’m going to make it happen.


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