My son and I have had many conversations about his goals and dreams for his future. Up til he was about 6 years old, he wanted to be a firetruck. From about 5 to 9 years of age, he wanted to be a speed bump. He explained to his mental health worker and I that being a speed bump would be great because he'd get to feel heavy tires run over him. We explored this further with him and decided to view it as sensory-based.
For many years, my son talked about being a spy. It's unclear as to whether or not he actually believed himself to be one or hoped to someday be one, but he prided himself on his ability to "watch people when they don't know I'm watching" and to "do things when people don't know I'm doing them."
About two years ago, I started initiating discussions with my son regarding his future. He very much resisted such discussions at first, but as I continued to explore and discuss his interests with him he began to hesitantly participate. (When he was younger, my son refused/argued/ tantrummed over positive comments about him and directed towards him. I continued anyway, as did his some of the folks on his support team. Today, he seems to be unable to keep himself from responding with a shy smile or goofy grin when someone says something good about him.) As the process continued, my son arrived to where he is today; coming up with ideas that interest him and figuring out how they could realistically work for his future.
Following are some of his ideas, and the challenges he is trying to figure out in order to implement the idea:
-University: too many crowds and loud noises in classrooms/dorm
-Chef: crowds/noise, often forgets to turn off stove/oven at home, hygiene
-Computer: "Mom, did you know people get paid to test out computer games?" Is great on computers at school; working towards how that might fit into his future
-Homebased Business: wants to sell items he has made, but realistically doesn't want to put time/energy into making items
-Marine: challenges with decision-making, relating to people, focus, etc.
-Performer: is connected to many folks in the arts community and talks about maybe wanting to perform someday and has had many opportunities but often doesn't want to; doesn't want to put in time/energy into preparation; and "What if I'm too tired that day?"
-Entrepeneur: would like to someday have his own restaurant or cafe but crowds/noise level/training, etc. are again all challenges in this area
-Weeder/Grass-cutter: noise if yardowner wants power-mower used instead of rotary mower; dealing with public/ communicating clearly with yardowners
The journey continues!
This blog was initially set up as a means of communicating with my son's team. Since then, I've heard from other parents with similar stories. If you are living with challenges or journeying alongside someone who is, you are not alone. There are many of us. I'm a single adoptive Mom (http://richesofsimplicity.blogspot.com/) of a young man who lives with many abilities and many diagnoses. We have journeyed together through many challenges and a few adventures over the years as my son has tried to find space in this world that makes him feel more comfortable, an attempt made especially difficult when living with Attachment Disorder, PDD-NOS (Autism), Developmental Coordination Disorder, ADHD, prenatal substance exposure, etc. Some of the strongest elements used in this journey have been music, visual arts, therapeutic parenting, team-connection, boundary-setting, boundary-setting, boundary-setting, communication skills, community-building, continual lifeskills training, and elements of Theraplay. (Click here for some written resources.) On this journey, there is laughter and tears and growth and hope. The greatest of these is hope.