Facing Reality

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The Boy is 14, and will be 15 in two months. Old enough to take driver’s training. I don’t think there’s much out there that he would like to learn more than how to drive for real. He “practices” in the passenger seat often, rides the riding lawnmower without assistance, has driven go karts, and in general very much looks forward to the day when he can drive his own car. But will he?

I’ve talked briefly to him a few times about how his high school track will work out, how he will get some work skills, and concentrate on learning how to become an employee. But he still wants to be a band director. I think he still wants to go to college. And I know that in the strictest sense, he will not go to college as he envisions it.

He has dreamed about getting a blue Chevy Sonic to drive when he gets his license, but I had to break it to him the other day that it wasn’t going to happen, and that he needed to start saving if he wanted a car at all. A new car of his choice is just not in the cards.

When your kiddos are little, this all seems so far away, and the last thing you want to do is limit their dreams. But when it comes time to face reality, then what?

These are the things that keep me up at night as a mom to a teenage boy on the spectrum. It may not be all that different from being a mom to a neurotypical teenager, except that reality sometimes doesn’t make sense to a logical, autistic mind.

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His Hopes & Dreams

His DreamsThe other day, The Man, The Boy and I were riding around as we are wont to do on the weekends, and we happened upon the local agency that employs young adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities once they’ve aged out of public school. The Man and I explained to The Boy what the young people with autism and other issues did inside the building. “They put together candy bouquets, do laundry, all sorts of stuff, and that’s their job,” I explained. “Isn’t that cool?” I asked.

A pause from the back seat, and then, “Can you be a band director there? Because that’s what I think I’d like to do.”

My heart just about broke while I was trying to find an answer. The Man responded that to be a band director you had to go to college, and in order to go to college you had to listen to your teachers and do all of your homework because that would be a lot of hard work. “I do all of my homework and listen to my teachers,” The Boy replied. “Ok,” we said and the subject naturally wandered in other directions as we drove on.

Could The Boy go to college, earn a degree, teach his own classes someday? Quite possibly. Don’t for a second think that I doubt my sons abilities.

What I doubt are the supports he would need to get there and our ability to afford those supports that are not in place. Realistically, colleges are not yet equipped for our kiddos (Hell, his middle school is not yet equipped…). And neither is the real world.

So how do I go about tempering my boy’s dreams, when it is the very last thing I want to do?