Beyond School

 

How does someone with autism (and their family) cope with life beyond school?

School is back in session now, and the weather is becoming cooler with the advent of autumn.

This is usually a difficult time of year for Lucas.

  • He's had to return to school after three glorious weeks off.
  • The weather is very changeable, making it hard for Lucas to get a handle on whether to wear "shorts" or "long pants" each day. (Of course, we've been teaching temperature to him, so it's become a little easier for him to figure out which one he needs to wear each day.)
  • The ragweed is at its yearly high, affecting him with either allergies or the side effects of his allergy medicine!
  • There are usually 1 or 2 new faces in his classroom, which means getting used to different students with different behaviours (sometimes not good ones).

All these things conspire to make this about the worst time of year for Lucas.

But we've changed things up a bit this school year, and he seems to like it.

This year, instead of going to school first thing in the morning, Lucas works here at LucasWorks. He begins work at 9 a.m. sharp and works until 10:30, at which time I take him to school.

Lucas has been attending school since he was about 2 = years old. Now that he's working here at LucasWorks in the mornings, it occurs to me that some day in the next few years, Lucas and ALL his classmates in the autism program will wake up one day, and there will be no more school. EVER AGAIN.

How does someone with autism cope with life beyond school? How do they feel about the sudden absence of school, something that's taken up most of their days since they can remember? How do they deal with this huge change in their life?

I can't imagine how confusing and frightening a time that must be for them.

I also can't imagine what happens when Mom or Dad find they have to stay home with their child because that school bus isn't coming to take them anywhere.

We're very lucky that we have the opportunity to ease Lucas into his "beyond-school" life slowly, beginning with having him work here in the mornings this year. We're hoping that over the next couple of years, we can continue to increase his time at work, and decrease his time at school.

That way, when his last day of school arrives, Lucas will be ready to leave it, since he will have been eased into his new life over a period of years.

Hopefully, by the time he gets beyond school, he'll be ready to take on a full day at LucasWorks, and we'll have the joy of watching our grown son working alongside of us in a real job for years to come!

In the meantime, I can't help but wonder if other parents are aware of how jarring it may be for their child when their school days are finished. I wouldn't have thought about it if Lucas wasn't working here in the morning, and I mention it here so other parents can think about it and help their child prepare for life beyond school.

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