We have been planning this day for a very long time. I’ve been dreaming and dreading this moment for years. Everything I have done for my son was to help prepare him for this next stage of his young life. The endless IEP’s, the tense meetings, the building of transition plans, the colorful cocktail of therapy sessions and everything in between, have finally brought us “here”.
Where is “here” you’re wondering?
“Here” is where autistic young adults are given an opportunity to learn work skills. “Here” is where a manager of a business opens their door to these exceptional students and offers them an internship. “Here” is where they are shown that they matter and their skills are of equal value as their colleagues. “Here” is where confidence is built. “Here” is where young adults mature with experience and become stronger human beings and contributing members of society.
“Here” is a place I have dreamed of for my son but never knew where “here” was until now.
My son, along with a few of his classmates, will officially be starting their internships next week. Tomorrow they meet their manager, learn what their responsibilities are and receive their uniform. My son’s “here” is tomorrow and I’m over the moon with joy.
But I’m also scared. I’m not scared about him making mistakes because even when making mistakes he’s learning. I’m scared about the clients coming in who are quick to judge. The impatient ones who vomit nasty remarks all too freely. The ones who may not know about autism and ridicule him just for being his natural self.
Many young adults have worked incredibly hard at achieving this monumental milestone. It is most often through a collaborated effort of like-minded individuals who are all focused on seeing the individual succeed.
Many still have lost their jobs because of their challenges. What can make the work environment even more difficult is when it’s not an inclusive one. Inclusion in the workplace goes beyond HR or management opening their doors to autistic individuals. It’s about educating co-workers and starting a dialogue that supports neurodiversity.
On this snowy eve of my son starting this very important chapter in his life I take comfort knowing how much he has overcome already. His resilience and perseverance are astounding. I know he has high anxiety about tomorrow but I know he’ll do well.
Tomorrow my child will be “here”.
“Here” was so abstract not so long ago. But, like time passing too quickly, “here” has finally presented itself at our door.
I will be strong for him tomorrow and not cry tears of joy. I don’t want him to think I’m sad or scared. Instead, I’ll secretly say this in my mind:
All your hard work has led you to this moment. Part of me wishes I can turn back time and have you in my arms again as a 9-month-old boy. I wish I can freeze that moment forever, this way you’d know you’d always be protected. But even though we can’t turn back time, know that my arms will forever be wrapped around you. Near or far I’m always here for you. Your wings have been fluttering for a while now and with each passing day they are getting stronger and stronger. Today is no exception. So, fly high my son and soar with all your goodness. I will wait for you to return.
Thanks for stopping by….