There is a time as a caregiver of a person with autism , we have done our fair share of therapies and interventions. Life seems to revolve around scheduling them, reaching the location at the appointed hour, making the child session-ready for the intervention. They were the most important things to be done in life.
Ramam now is 18, I don’t do therapies any more, he goes to a vocational unit. And my priorities have changed. I now look at spending conversation time with him, try to teach him some functional maths, some science, and language when possible.
In the last 6 months or so I am looking at his future in terms of his employability. Words like sheltered workshops, supported employment , open employment spring up in my mind.Different routes for different people.I cannot think of Ramam working in an open employment and so it would be supported employment.In his case it will have to be a case of a few hours of supported employment and maybe some classes in computers/ printing in furthering his interest in these areas. More importantly is to note that their interests can also vary with time.
The reason I write this post is when our children are young , we set ourselves communication goals, academic goals, OT goals, Believe me these goals are crucial to reach a certain level of functioning and independence. But we sometimes miss the trees for the woods. After I did the son -rise program I did cutback on the therapies, because it didn’t make sense to do whole lot of therapies especially in Bangalore traffic.
At 18 one has a fair idea of where we are heading and there is a clarity of thought as there is a better idea of the limitations and strengths. I find many parents now starting on working with the kids on their work skills , much earlier in areas such as jewellery making.Kudos to them.
But also sometimes it bothers me that are we getting too caught on to focussing on work skills that we are taking away from the joy of learning new things. Doing simple science experiments, understanding the whys of how things work, conducting a transaction in a shop.I understand that work skills will hold them in good stead in the years to come, no doubts on that score but it is very important to strike a balance some where between learning and doing the same things repeatedly. A person can be taught to put a simple circuit together with little foreknowledge on it. Making the simple circuit with a diagram can be an independent activity, but the teaching guided. It doesn’t have to be only about jewellery making or cooking. Because this is what they will be doing as adults all their lives in their chosen vocation.
My ramblings are more on my state of mind in striking a balance for Ramam between working on work skills and learning as would any NT 18 year old would.