Today was the first day in awhile that I’ve felt better about life since making the autism testing appointments for my daughter. It seems as if the stress from thinking too much about my daughter’s future seemed to suck the joy out of my life for a season. A few weeks ago, I didn’t want to continue homeschooling. I didn’t want to think about work for her. I didn’t want to deal with any of it. It just seemed like a dark spot in my world. The hope I had seemed to get stolen by what other people said. I see the deficits and how she struggles, but it’s hard when others see it too.
We got testing through the school and medically. This was to update her diagnosis, which we hadn’t done since 7th grade. She’s now 18 and applying for services requires an updated diagnosis. The results weren’t as bad as I thought. Let me back up though. We got the results (but haven’t met yet) from the school and most of what they said was a downer. Low, low, below average, and low again. The only “average” score she got was in writing. So I was expecting more of the same from the medical diagnosis.
But there was a ray of hope in what she said. First of all, my daughter has a very slow processing speed. Most of the tests indicated that she needs time to think through things before knowing how to deal with them. Another aspect was she struggles to understand the meaning behind facial expressions and sarcasm. She can understand someone who is sad, happy, etc, but if you add in more components like talking, or back and forth conversation, she struggles to understand the things that may have not been said or how the person felt. So the suggestion was to work in places with low pressure and where she can have one person giving her directions.
Another thing we learned was that she is good at Tetris. Ha ha. Just kidding. No, she’s good at seeing how things fit in a space. So geometry might be something to pursue. She’s good at shapes, perimeter, and area…things like that. She’s also really good at routine so doing something that has the same requirements, but doesn’t require an instant deadline would be a good job for her.
The specialist told us there wasn’t any reason she couldn’t go to college or live on her own, in time. She’s 18, so she has time. Brains don’t stop developing until 25 or 26, so we have time. In the meantime, we are planning on touring the transitional school which would teach her independent skills and career skills. We meet with Vocational Rehab too. And I still have to meet with the school to see what they say.
I think my sadness came a little bit from the fact that I felt like I messed her up by homeschooling. Today, when they said she wouldn’t do well in a class setting and that she’d actually be confused by all the people talking (more people=more things to process), I felt a sense of relief. It’s been a hard thing for me. I’ve taken this thing on my shoulders and I’ve carried it, even when other homeschoolers didn’t understand me or autism, and family members who questioned me. It feels like a win for me. I know that sounds silly, but sometimes I felt responsible for her lack. It was nice for once to hear I did something right.
The road ahead will not be easy, but it’s good to know I have options for her as an adult with autism. I’m going to keep reminding her that she can do things, it’s just going to take a work around. One thing that amazed me while talking to the specialist is how many people as adults come in for testing after living without a diagnosis for years. In a way, I’m glad we are aware and making advances to help her so she doesn’t have to struggle so much in the future.
I love these kids. They are my universe. I’m blessed I get the opportunity to homeschool. I can’t imagine it any other way.