I was invited to the United Nations World Autism Day (And Luncheon).
The focus of the event was on autonomy and self-determination. My anxiety is going up from just writing that last sentence. Why?
Cub has an IQ more than two standard deviations above average. He’s a super smart dude. He can learn and memorize anything, if he’s interested in doing so. Awesome right? Why would I be anxious? With an IQ like that, he’ll be fine, right?
Cub has issues with motivation and understanding the value of proving his knowledge (homework). He doesn’t see the value in communicating and collaborating with peers, viewing them as inferior.
Cub also has serious social issues. He believes everyone is his friend. He inherently trusts people. Because he doesn’t lie, he believes others don’t either. He isn’t good at using words to communicate his thoughts and feelings.
His future is uncertain. He has anxiety about adulthood, too. He tells us often that when he is an adult he wants us to live in the house next door.
Can he go off to college, make friends that are a good influence, maintain good hygiene, use time management skills to complete assigned tasks, absorb course material and test well, produce work materials that prove his understanding, learn what he needs to know to be a successful professional in his field of choice, etc?? Nope. Not with the skills he has now. Challenge accepted.
Our ultimate goal for our children is independence, autonomy, and self-determination. Charting the path from here to there is hard work.
Thankfully, the United Nations is asking the world to be more compassionate and to accept the neurodiversity of autism in the professional work place. Only 15% of adults with autism are currently independent adults (meaning free of financial, legal, or decision making support). There are specific initiatives that are putting adults with autism in supported high quality employment. That means, one day, kids like Cub may be able to achieve the illusive independence.
So, “I’ll start walking your way and you start walking mine. We’ll meet in the middle near that old Georgia pine. We’all gain a lot of ground, cause we both give a little. Their ain’t no road too long when you meet in the middle.”