The Unspeakable Truths

As a parent, I worry about my kids. My worries for Debbie outweigh my worries for Joey. I know that Joey will find his place in high school, college, and ultimately in life. But Debbie? She’s different.

A year ago Vince and I made the difficult but correct decision to change Debbie’s educational track. Instead of graduating with a high school diploma, she will receive a certificate of participation. This decision has untied our hands from creating IEP goals that were unattainable and has allowed us instead to focus on giving Debbie a more appropriate education that will prepare her for life outside of the comforting walls of school. Yet, I still worry!

Here is what keeps me up at night. I worry about what her future will look like. Where will she live? Will she have friends to support her just as her family does? She doesn’t have friends now, so why would that change when she is an adult? Will she be able to take care of herself? Will she drive, pay bills, and hold down a job with benefits? What if she isn’t able to? She has always had a one-on- one to help her navigate the intricacies of school. Should we think about fazing out the one-on-one for her so she is prepared to live independently? Will people get her and her “quirks”? Sensing her vulnerability, will some unethical person come along take advantage of her? How do we prevent that from happening? If we are not around, how will others prevent that from happening?

These are only a smattering of the random thoughts that haunt my thinking, not only at night but also each and every day. While they don’t consume me, they are always lingering at the back of my mind.

Debbie is only twelve. But it was only twelve years ago that she was an infant, and the reality is that only twelve years from now she will be twenty-four years old – an adult! When Debbie turns fourteen, we will begin the transition to planning for adulthood. I know there are services out there, but they are not as plentiful as what a school system will provide. Ultimately, I want Debbie to be as successful as she is happy. I want her to be as independent as possible and can only hope that the tools we are giving her now will help her as she becomes an adult.

Being a parent is a difficult job. To varying degrees, we all worry about our kids, no matter how old they are. I especially worry about Debbie’s future because it is murky. I know worrying won’t help, but as someone who is not a fan of the unknown, I simply can’t help myself. And although I can’t keep myself from worrying, I can take deep breaths and let the future unfold in front of me as it is intended to do.

xoxoxo ~ Julie

Julie Brusio lives with her husband Vince and their two kids, Joey and Debbie, in Sykesville, MD. Debbie was diagnosed with Autism at the age of five. Julie has been advocating for Autism Awareness and Acceptance ever since. Julie can be found discussing the ups and downs of life with Autism on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/KetchupWithASideOfAutism?ref=hl or on WordPress at www.ketchupwithasideofautism.wordpress.com. Follow her on Twitter as well (@JulieBrusio or @KetchupWAutism).