In 19 days my Leo turns 5 years old. 5 years old. He’s doing well in his preschool class and already talking about how next year he gets to go to Kindergarten. I am excited about his forward movement, about his gains in language and social skills. I am excited at his love for learning and his want for knowledge. But with these excitements come reservations, come uncertainties and my stomach gets tied in knots.
Having a talk with my dad this morning about a program that has been implemented in northern California for autistic adults. It talked about employers seeing strengths in detail oriented positions for high functioning autistic adults. It’s wonderful. It made me almost throw up.
I don’t know if Leo will ever be able to hold a full time job. I don’t know if he will ever be able to live on his own. He may very well need help his whole life. He might not be able to go to college or have a professional type job. And he might. That uncertainty is scary as a parent.
As a parent we want to dream of our children soaring so much higher than we can. We dream of them changing the world in profound ways. We dream of them curing cancer and flying spaceships. Of making new uses out of recyclables and designing cars that run on trash. At least I do. Even though I know in my heart that the way he HAS to wish everyone he meets a good morning or a hello he’s making a huge change in the world by leading with love.
So how do you even begin to prepare a future for a kiddo that may or may not continue to grow. Even planning for kinder is making me nervous. The expectations for things he still isn’t strong in, like writing, are high. What if he can’t and he falls back. What if they want him to repeat kinder because of his struggles, then he will be a very big 7 year old in kinder. I know, don’t borrow worry, but these are very real things I have to start trying to figure out how to navigate.
So the question is, if you are or have been in a situation like this, how do you do it?
Do you simply plan week by week or month by month? Do you set goals as high as the clouds and figure out how not to be crushed if they never reach even part of the way to them?
I don’t know how to plan for my future or his right now but I do know that I’ll never ever stop him from dreaming and reaching and wanting. I’ll never be a parent who holds him back or tells others he can’t or he won’t. I’ll never make him “autistic” he will always be Leo.
So for now I’ll try to push my fears for him aside. I’ll smile when he tells me he’s going to be a Paleontologist, I’ll tell him to breathe and use his words through the things that he struggles with and I’ll cry when I’m alone. When he again realizes he’s not like the other kids.