The end of the current school year is approaching rather fast. That means, my friends, that the beginning of J’s last full school year is approaching only ever so slightly more slowly. As often happens in life, the moment for plans to be set in motion is often immediately after one has come up (after much pushing and shoving, many doses of Tylenol, and many instances of “wait! wait! I’ve GOT it!” that fizzle because of the impractical nature of “it”) with the right plan. I will not tell you, because I cannot guarantee in any way, shape, or form that this is “the right plan,” that this will work, but it’s a start…
Normandy wasn’t invaded in a day. Well, technically, kinda sorta, but not…to get to the shores of Normandy a lot of planning had to happen, and with planning came training, and with training came a lot of other things. That’s where we’re at now, and it’s a good (could be better) place. After a massive panic attack, a depressing flipping of pages on my calendar, and a reckoning of the inevitability of the passage of time, I sat down and did some organized thinking. It followed a massive brainstorming session with myself, and I shot myself down several times over until I talked myself into one basic notion: J doesn’t need to MAKE money, and he probably WON’T, but what he needs is an occupation that makes him happy and gives him purpose.
A loud, dramatic, exhausting sigh followed this moment of illumination. After that, things got easier…sort of…kind of…a little bit.
My desk is, as I type this, covered with publications related to the arts and crafts endeavors that my son enjoys. The TV room closet (also known as the “J Closet”) is full of materials we’ve been ordering based on these publications. Several books have arrived and are being studied by the person(s) in charge of each particular discipline within the Arts and Crafts field. Post-Its, notes, scribblings, and so on and so forth are marking our progress, and we have laid out a simple (complex) process for setting everything in motion for J to be self-employed and poor once school is out.
Have no worries: his needs will be met, and he will be comfortable and productive, but the objective of this game is not to make him the next poster boy for “individuals in the spectrum can be the CEOs of their own multi-million dollar companies.” No, the purpose we have in mind is that J will feel that every day of his life has an occupation in which he can engage, and that there are work hours during which he can generate some output that will be seen/purchased/owned/perhaps appreciated by others, and leisure hours during which he -like the rest of us- can kick back and say “what a long day I had!!!!”
Over the course of the next six months, J will slowly learn -among other things- streamlined versions of the processes of block stamping on paper and fabric, screen printing, soap manufacturing, working on ceramics, polymer clay, and glass. Using the techniques we’ll be teaching him, J will run his own little business from home. On Saturdays during summer he can go to Farmers’ Market, and he can have his own little Etsy store. He will not make money, but he will be able to create small batches of artisanal soaps, limited edition post cards and t-shirts, and so on and so forth.
His workshop will be in our garage, and there he has his music, heating for the cold winter months, circulating air in the summer heat, easy access to a bathroom, and constant supervision if he wants him, privacy if he prefers it. A clock will be installed to let him know when work starts and ends, and breaks and lunch hours will be respected.
For a young adult who has been wait-listed for services in a state where services for adults with disabilities seem to be undergoing major reduction and revision, it’s as good a plan as we can come up with, and we’re hoping that our brainstorming, planning, studying (yes, people here are actually studying and working on making things easier to manage for J,) and implementing will suffice for the time being. J looks at us as if we’ve lost our minds, but every package and book that arrives piques his curiosity. Whatever skepticism he feels is understandable, and we respect it…
In other news, TGG might be going back to school soon. We all have our fingers crossed for him. Turning 24 is often a trigger for realizing childhood is long gone, and youth has a limited duration. Like that moment when you realize you’re not going to lose those last five (ten…fifteen…twenty?) pounds, realizing that you graduated from high school six years ago is something you either dread or embrace. TGG has chosen to embrace it and move forward.
As for J…he is slowly losing whatever weight had stalled during winter. Those 36-inch waist pants are not too far off in the future, and we managed to talk him out of wearing his snow boots until the end of May. He is almost ready to transition to shorts, but he’s being discreet for the time being.
There you have it. The silence has been gestation, not lack of interest. Once in a while one has to gather up one’s thoughts and let them mill about without bouncing them off walls and people.
Thoughts? Opinions? Suggestions? We are entering the “learn and do a trial run” period of this new endeavor so I will have lots to tell you, and -hopefully- some of it will be positive in spite of the comedy that is bound to ensue when you have people trying to re-learn and teach these things to others.
Wish us luck…
P.S.: I don’t know Latin so I did my best…and if I botched/butchered/obliterated/destroyed it…a thousand apologies…