I remember very distinctly the very strong feelings I had in the first year after I found out my son, Dominic, had Autism. I recall thinking way ahead to his future and not having a lot of hope for what he would accomplish.
My only frame of reference at the time about Autism was the movie, "Rainman." The main character, played by Dustin Hoffman was severely Autistic and lived in an institution.
My husband and I are not young parents. Dominic is only 7 and I would be lying if I didn't say that I think a lot about what the future holds for him. Will he always live with us? Will he get married and have children of his own?
I have a friend whose son is well into his 30s or early 40s. She and I share a common bond in that both our sons have Autism. Her son has a host of medical issues as well. They have chosen not to put him in an institution, but rather he lives with my friend and her husband.
There are lots of services available when your special needs children are young, but when they reach adulthood, there aren't many options. There are group homes, but from what I hear, there are not enough, plus I think there are usually long waiting lists. I am super blessed that my son (and daughter) have a much older brother that will help take care of them, if something happened to my husband and I.
I have had people ask me what I see for Dominic and his future. If you would have asked me that question when he was 2 1/2, I would have said I really didn't have much hope for what he could accomplish. But, if you asked me that question now, I would say the possibilities are endless.
We have loads to go with him (especially potty training, which he shows NO interest in)!! Every new word he learns I feel like shouting from the rooftops. Just the other day he wanted some milk and said, "Mommy, go get it!" I kind of looked over at him and said, "you know where it is, you go get it yourself!"
It is incredibly cool that I can have a conversation with him, FINALLY!
One of Dominic's favorite things is to do puzzles. He likes doing puzzles with 10 or less pieces, but he also does puzzles with 300-500 pieces.
This was Dominic working on one of those puzzles, while he was waiting for his bus to take him to school. In the background, you can see the other puzzle he already completed. I didn't even know he could do these puzzles, until a couple of years ago when he went into the toy closet in the basement and pulled them out!
He also loves computers and can say the alphabet backwards. My daughter is one of Dominic's biggest "cheerleaders." She reminds me that he's capable of much more than I think he is. I guess as his mom I want to protect him and I just assume he can't do certain things and I don't like to see him frustrated. But, as he's gotten older, I've realized I can't protect him from everything and it's part of life that he will get frustrated.
There are two things I plan on teaching Dominic in the next couple of weeks, the 50 states and how to tie his shoes. Stay tuned for updates!
To read more from Cathy, visit bountifulplate.blogspot.com
Cathy is a homemaker/wife and also mom to a second grade son with special needs, a teenage daughter and a stepmom to an adult son. Originally from the East Coast, Cathy has lived in the Midwest for close to a decade. She hopes to use her life experiences to help and inspire others and to put a smile on their face if only just for a moment!