Managing Editor's Note: You'll recognize Chantal from Autism One Radio and Autism File magazine. Please take a look at all of Chantal's books at AMAZON HERE. She's a powerful advocate for children on the spectrum, particularly children who are older, like her own son.
By Chantal Sicile-Kira
My son is looking for a girlfriend, and believe me, he is quite a catch He’s buff from working out twice a week at the gym, and he’s a babe magnet - he was invited to the senior prom by one of the most popular girls at school. He’s even been on MTV highlighted on an episode of True Life.
He’s on Facebook (Relationship Status: Single; Interested In: Women Looking For: Friendship, Dating, A Relationship, Networking; Political Views: Go Obama!), and requested a cell phone for his birthday (although he is non-verbal) so he could text any potential friends. Did I mention he still requires 24 hour supports and help with everyday living skills? Maybe he should be looking for a wife (OK, not a very PC joke, but admit I have a point in some cases).
Most people worry about what is going to happen to their child with autism when he is an adult. Of course I do, too, not a day goes by that I don’t think about, or worry about it, or research workable ideas. My son is after all, 20 years old.
I used to work with young adults like my son in a state institution years before he was born (you see, you can catch autism by osmosis). I am not immune to all the sad and horrible stories such as the Sky Walker murder case and others perhaps less intense but still not nice. I often get emails from parents of young adults asking about what they should do, how are they going to cope, and I feel their pain. We all have barely enough energy to make it through an autism –filled day, let alone plan for the future.
Jeremy is trying and we are thinking about different work options and we are not sure where that will go. It seems work is scarce even for neurotypicals right now. I sort of have the housing plan thought out because he is pretty clear about what he wants, I just don’t have the money to pay of any of it, and I don’t think our government does either (but I digress).
Yet, this being close to Valentine’s Day, I am thinking about what has been on Jeremy’s mind for some time. Girls. Girls and how to get them. Housing, jobs, functional living skills – these are very important. But for the moment, Jeremy is fixated on girls. And who can deny that relationships and affection are needed components for a happy life? A little sex doesn’t hurt either.
At Christmas time, Jeremy communicated that he did not want to buy a Starbucks gift card for Ralph, the tutor that takes him to workout at LA Fitness. Jeremy decided he wanted to buy Ralph a calendar with pictures of girls on it. He went to the mall with a respite person and chose one that was aptly titled “Hot Buns.” I’ll leave the rest to your imagination. Maybe he was inspired by the Charger’s Cheerleaders who sometimes work out at the same gym.
I miss the prepubescent years when Jeremy was examining the guitars in the music magazines and not the beautiful female models holding them. It’s my own fault. I’ve been trying to get Jeremy to enjoy more age-appropriate entertainment for years. But do you know what finally got his attention away from Big Bird? Entourage! That’s right - that HBO series about four guys from New York, now living in Hollywood, where one of them has hit it big as a movie actor. It’s all about their tight friendship, getting acting gigs, and hooking up. How to get a girlfriend and how to land an acting role is basically what this show is about. There is a lot of eye candy for the guys on here. (And the male actors are not so bad-looking either.)
Jeremy believes that Ralph is the best tutor to help him get a girl. Now, I know they both enjoy the female scenery at the gym from what I’ve heard, but still….. For now, we are focusing on explaining to Jeremy that he needs to work on his communication skills in order to have a relationship or to contemplate the possibility of future physical intimacy. Thus his interest in cell phones and Facebook. We are also trying to find friends for him to practice his conversational skills , perhaps a friend of the female persuasion.
Saturday, Valentine’s Day, Ralph is coming to take Jeremy to work out at the gym. Maybe, the Charger Cheerleaders will be around this weekend and working out. A little eye candy might help keep him going until he gets a girlfriend.
Meanwhile, best wishes to all of you for a very Happy Valentine’s Day. Share a chocolate or a glass of wine, or a GFCF cookie with someone you love.
Chantal Sicile-kira is the mom of two teenagers, one severely impacted by autism, and the award-winning author of three books. Chantal writes a column for The Autism File, hosts a radio show on Autism One and moderates webinars for www.momsfightingautism.com. Her books are: Autism Life Skills: From Communication and Safety to Self-Esteem and More - 10 Essential AbilitiesEvery Child Needs and Deserves to Learn; Adolescents on the Autism Spectrum: A Parent's Guide to the Cognitive, Social, Physical, and Transition Needs ofTeenagers with Autism Spectrum Disorders , Autism Spectrum Disorders: The Complete Guide to Understanding Autism, Asperger's Syndrome, Pervasive Developmental Disorder, and Other ASDs. For more information, visit: www.chantalsicile-kira.com.