My eldest son Jason graduated AB English from TIP in 2015. Most families with special children patted me in the back and congratulated, saying. “You did well, Mommy, but this is it, this is where to draw the line..” They said it like a death sentence and perhaps they meant well; autists, even high-functioning ones are not well-known to be part of the working class.
Frankly, I was at a loss for a while. Being in school for many years, there was a certain contentment and complacency that all parents like me thrive on, because it certainly gave a direction and purpose to our children’s extraordinary lives. My hubby once half-kidded me that we can keep Jason in school, one course after another, until our dying days. Back then, and even now, I’m not sure if we played that denial stage not so much because we didn’t exactly know what to do with Jason after college — or, if that we were just plain scared of what the world might NOT offer him.
Trusting my instincts and with the necessary support of Mona Veluz of ASP, we placed Jason on a soft program of developing and instilling both soft (socialization, communication, decision-making, problem-solving) and hard skills (detailed work, computer proficiency) for over a year, post-college. For the first time, Jason interfaced with fellow adult autists and I saw how inward-looking my son became even after 15 years of formal classroom education.
I still get weepy when I recall how much of a man he transformed right before my eyes. Yes, he took a little from our family life but he placed those emotional deposits into another “family” of fellow-autists and primary supporters who knew and encouraged that part of him yearning to break out. This was the WARRIOR inside that had been aching and fighting for release.
When the stint at SM Mezza Savemore came. my warrior was more than ready. Except for a few adjustments here and there, Jason started making personal decisions on how he would be conducting his work, from the moment he woke up, commuted via LRT, walked almost 1 kilometer to and from our place everyday, the manner by which he would comply with tasks given to him, and most especially, what he would do with his salary. I did not mind taking the backseat and taking his bull-headedness at times, after all, this was also teaching him life-skills more than anything else.
I specifically remember that stormy day in late September that we got a text message from him – “SOS, LRT is closed. What to do?” Trying not to sound worried, I texted him back with a message that an Uber driver was on his way to get him. It didn’t take long for him to get home after that, but I ‘m still proud of that fact that my warrior had become less dependent on me and more dependent on his own man.
As sure as Jason is looking forward to more work experience, I will be happy to have him home more often in the meantime, being helpful at some chores and running errands. In fact, we know he will hit the roads and pick up his running more regularly now; all part of being the warrior that he will continue to be.
Autism is NOT a limitation; it is a beautiful beginning waiting to unfold!