Autism from a mama who has been there. I am going to try to post every day this month. Please feel free to ask questions in the comments.
Congratulations! You and your teen have successfully navigated through two or three years of middle school. I hope.
My son has a couple of other complications in addition to autism, which necessitated an outpatient day school and Home Hospital for a few months. But we made it through 2 Junior High Schools in 2 states. Point, in fact, there is NOTHING embarrassing or shameful about accessing the available tools, whether it be an outpatient or inpatient program or Home Hospital! Let’s just admit that puberty is HARD for everyone.
High School! A/B days? What? I’d already had two kids go through high school, so I thought I was prepared when my son started High School. I was wrong.
As his 16th birthday was approaching, I was seriously considering pulling him out of school. He was going to be a dropout, and I couldn’t think of any other alternative. It just wasn’t working.
I went to visit with his counselor to discuss this, what I considered to be the inevitable. The counselor brought something to my attention that saved my sanity, his education, and probably his life.
Because of his autism, he was eligible to be on a half-day schedule. Lifesaver. We used a combination of home-school and in-class education. I have to tell you that teaching him at home taught me a lot.
Funny, true story. I was reading The Life of Frederick Douglass out loud to Matt, and I thought he had fallen asleep. He had. But apparently, he learns better in his sleep. His book report was terrific.
When my son turned 18, the rest of his peers were graduating, but he didn’t have the required amount of credits. We learned about something that Davis County Schools offers (in Utah) called the STAR program.
He could continue his education, as we were doing, half at home and half at school (with the school being in Farmington) until the age of 22. Matt did grade graduate at 20 years old! He has a diploma, and he is a high-school graduate! Something that at one time, I thought, was an impossibility.
He also received a scholarship to Spy Hop, a Film School in Salt Lake City (https://spyhop.org/). He completed their program with honors. But he decided that film was something he would pursue as a hobby rather than as a career.
My son has a lot of interests, and he has had successes in many areas. But he has also had traumatic disappointments in his work life. As a mother, it’s incredibly disheartening and painful to watch someone you love be so hurt. But our job is to bind up the wound and send them back out into the world.
He now works as an HVAC technician and uses his “special” gifts to help him be fantastic at his job. He learned really fast, only having to watch a demonstration once and then being able to repeat it correctly. As he continues in his career, his self-esteem and self-confidence continue to grow. Look at your child’s aptitude, interests, and skills. Where can they work in a career field? Help your child discover his/her passion, feed it, help it grow, and (if possible) turn it into a career.
Celebrate the small stuff, be flexible, and laugh.