Thanks to the help of ABA therapy, our son is now riding the public bus to attend a college class for a career in network security. He is still only a junior in high school, but thanks to his homeschool program, we were able to enroll him in his first college class at a local junior college. He is earning both high school and college credit for it. Plus he is able to further develop his passion for computer programming and make steps towards a future career.
Even though he is 17 years old, he isn’t ready to drive yet, so we introduced the public bus system to him so he can travel a 1 hour trip to his college campus on his own. I’m not sure if this made him or myself more nervous. But we were both ready for him to take this next step in independence. On his first day of school, my son texted me before class telling me that he felt like he was going to pass out because his anxiety was so high, it was his first public classroom in over 1 1/2 years, but I was overjoyed to hear after the class that he thought it was “AMAZING!”
Beyond that, he’s preparing for his first job interview, another bonus of having ABA therapy. In addition, he continues to work on his social skills that are challenged by his autism and slowly he is seeing small improvements that feel spectacular. Just the other day he said that he was able to ask a store clerk if they had a particular piece of merchandise, in the past, he wouldn’t have been able to talk to anyone in public and would’ve wasted time while trying to find it on his own. Other positive changes are his willingness to try new foods. Just last night he ate his first salad EVER! We all celebrated that!
Unlike his younger years, we are not seeing the anger and violence that his rages once produced. Instead, he may get irritated in the moment, but he can more easily use a coping skill, such as leave for a walk. We notice more than ever the challenges of autism in this area, his rigid thinking and struggles with perspective taking make it hard for him during conflicts, but he is able to have restraint in these moments and we are hopeful that his ABA therapy will continue to help.
It’s a beautiful thing seeing him blossom, there was a time where we weren’t sure what his future would look like, it was worrisome for sure, but as he has gotten older, he has grown into a very responsible young man, in fact he doesn’t even let his brothers break any rules, he is very conscientious and really wants to please others. He is also so very kind, and has a gentle spirit about him.
Just yesterday a song came on the radio, Wild Horses by the Rolling Stones, it brought me back to a dark time, many years ago when this song came on after one of my son’s violent rages.
wild horses, couldn’t drag me awayYears ago, as I heard those lyrics, I cried my eyes out, feeling determined at the time that no matter how “wild” my son was, no matter how much his body raged, I was never going to leave his side. It was a moment of clarity in my mind and heart that my love was bigger than this challenge.
wild, wild horses, couldn't drag me away...
Yesterday, this same song brought me to tears once again, but this time I was filled with joy, a feeling of triumph, that we have overcome the worst and that all of our hard work and perseverance was worth it.
We won the battle and love still remains.
Though we still have work in front of us, I share this today to encourage those of you who are still in the dark trenches, who email me looking for a ray of hope. I want you to know that no matter how bleak the future seems, hold on to hope. It can get better. It does.