April 2 is International Autism Awareness Day. It's the 9th year of observing the effects autism has for an individual, family, and our communities. The international agenda includes this topic, which is of interest to James and I this year: The Road to Independent Living: From Early Intervention through College.
At school, home, and the after school program, a gradual shift from therapy and intervention toward life skills and independent living has begun. James is 12, it's only 6 more years until he is 18. I am so used to thinking of him as 6 years old. Time to shift the horizon.
James is getting life skills for living alone, phone etiquette, cooking, and laundry. I've started handing him money and talking through transactions, such as paying for pizza at Little Caesar's or the grocery store. I have started a program of writing letters to family and texting, using my phone.
He is rocking the hygiene chart the O/T helped set up for him. His math program was enhanced and he is now bringing home chapter books to read. He is doing all this new homework independently now. Often all I need to do is double-check what he has done.
The Boys and Girls Club have started to help support discussions about hobbies and joining socially with others. James is able to complete homework during the time for that. He is using a calculator correctly. He has started to "get" their talks about work he can do and enjoy to support himself when he is older.
I am thankful James has services, and a good team working with us this year. While not much is known for sure about autism, it has been a constant companion to me, 365 days a year, since 2007, starting with uneasiness when James did not hit milestones at age 18 months in 2006. Where we are right now is so much better than I'd feared when we started out. We still have a long way to go.