I use breathing techniques to control my anxiety. Em uses it too. I’m usually pretty good about being able to cope and deal. However, where my children are concerned, my anxiety shows more. Especially with Em. The unknown. The uncertainty. And still trying to show her we believe she’s capable. Fine lines and balancing acts.
You see, kids like Em don’t stay small forever. They grow up. They become teenagers. They eventually become adults. Depending on where they are on the spectrum determines a lot of their ability to live independently or not. And in some cases the co-morbid diagnosis that they have play strongly into how they function. Sometimes leaving parents apprehensive as to where their future is for them.
Emelie isn’t black and white. She lives in a gray area. She very well may live and thrive independently as an adult. In fact, she more than likely will. However, there is that little rain cloud of wonder that screams “what if she can’t”. Once you let that little cloud in, the doom and gloom starts and the “what ifs” start running around your head. Shutting them down means having a “plan” in place to handle those what ifs.
That means having to take that deep breath, hold it, think positively but purposefully and exhale. It means addressing those concerns head on. What if Em can’t hold down a job? What if her dreams don’t come true? What if she fails? What if she can’t live on her own? Will she be able to take care of herself? If not, then what?
We have to proactive and while we NEVER want to assume the worst, it’s a double edged sword. We can’t let go of that anxiety without a plan of how to handle the unknown, best and worst case scenarios. We can’t embrace and hope the best without addressing the worst. While we never hope we have to implement any of those “nets” we consider, the reality is, life is unpredictable on a good day. For these individuals that unpredictability sometimes offers more challenges for them than they can handle.
In the end, whatever will be will be and I have hope and faith that she will thrive and succeed but sometimes… I have to prepare in case. As her parent, my job in life is to watch out for her and protect her, as much as I can. Sometimes, that means letting her make mistakes and “fall”. But sometimes that also means stepping in to lend her an hand and help her find her way.
Kids don’t stay little for long. And Autism doesn’t change that. It only changes the services and people willing to step up and help. Programs and therapies become more scarce. Understanding is strained and often lacking. And at the end of the day, they are still struggling and finding far fewer people to help them or be compassionate and understanding.
We need to do more for these individuals who will age out and need more care. We need to do more to support caregivers in general of anyone who has special considerations. We need programs to help them find their “place in this world”.
And these are often the things I find my nightmares about or things that will keep me up late at night.