Managing Editor's Note: We ran a post by Wendy called Juggling The Astronaut, Autism into Adulthood
last summer. Below is her follow up. Unfortunately, there was no lift off - but we keep reaching for the stars for our children, whether tots or adults.
By Wendy Frye
disability services advisor at our local community college needed to meet with
us before our son could be admitted to classes. The gate-keeper in charge
claimed 30 years of experience in disability services while he eyed our son.
Our son, who just happens to be a very talented artist, diagnosed on the autism
spectrum when he was three and half and a recent high school graduate.
My husband and devoted father to our two son comes from a family of educators.
It was only logical that our son continue his secondary education as an
extension of his student experience that started when he was 3 1/2 years old.
Like a long rising phoenix, this young man had paid his dues and deserved a
college experience, Right?
Wrong. Apparently we were dead-assed wrong and the minutes scribed during our
brief meeting will only relay our ignorance. The road we travel just got
infinitely longer supporting our now adult son with ASD.
The gate-keeper required him to pass a 3 hour reading and writing assessment,
unsupported, with a timer looming in the corner. For art classes - even labs.
Awesome. Didn't we cover our Achilles heel well enough over the 15 years of
education, therapies, assessments, awards, grades, passing federal standardized
testing, his web-site, posted online art submissions all while earning
exceptional honors? Nope.
Losing eye contact. Right. About. Now.
We, the parents, knew exactly what was happening. Our son was being deliberately
set up to fail. This was not acceptable, on any level, with any student. On the
way home, the conversation in the car yielded a new plan. Anxiety was replaced
with reassurance that he would NEVER again have to take class or be assessed
just to learn the skills he needs to use equipment and techniques to create his
own brand of graphic arts.
As a preemptive strike against the looming reality that would be our son,
sitting around all day playing video games in his boxers, I resigned from my
professional daytime career. Not only isn't it safe to leave him alone during
the work hours of the day, it's lonely. With crystal clarity, we need to assist
our son farther into his adulthood to achieve his dreams and ambitions, not
just for him, oh no. Not just for James. We will do this for the legion of
children on the Spectrum who will be aging out, falling off the fragile cliff
of security of their younger years.
Since that fateful meeting, his creative genius has been ripening. With just
stopping and looking around to find a different and more direct educational
path for him - he is happier and more relaxed than ever. A local agency that
interns young computer geeks offers classes and welcomes this young man with
his mother at his side.
Incubating his new skills, refining old ideas and thoughts that he so
desperately wants to communicate with us all, The Astronaut is learning his new
language in graphic arts. Assisted by his family and a soon to be elevated
non-profit, this trip continues.......
~ Wendy Frye
"Ground Control to Major Tom
Commencing countdown, engines on
Check ignition and may God's love be with you" ~ David Bowie