Lots of questions come to mind when I think of planning for a future. Mainly, how am I going to get through this day, much less tomorrow and five years from now? And, why do I keep starting over again and again? Why is it always two steps forward, one step back?
Let’s face it. When we have a child or adult with Asperger Syndrome, our choices are arbitrarily limited for us. Besides that, the future is a very scary place. That’s the main reason I try not to think about the future. It’s just TOO scary.
But, plan I must! I won’t be here forever. How can I enjoy life now and how can I enjoy life tomorrow, next year and for years and years after that? What good does it do planning for the future if everything will change without warning anyway?
Here some great reasons to plan for the future, scary or not:
I will not live forever. I MUST have a plan for what will happen when I’m no longer here to help.
I could live to be 100 or I could pass away tomorrow. I am definitely NOT ready!
Planning for the future makes living today scarier, but easier. I knew my son had to learn to live on his own. I knew school would end one day. While I battled fear and despair, thinking about what he would need to know to live alone in the future made it a lot easier for me to decide what was important today.
I actually want a life for myself one day. I dream of the day when I can make choices about my life and know that my son will be OK, even if I’m not around to help him. This keeps me focused.
Our children and eventually adults with autism want a life for themselves, too. They may not know what that life looks like or how to get there, but there is an innate desire in everyone to belong and to thrive with interdependence.
Governmental resources for persons with disabilities are becoming less likely each year. I must plan for the future knowing that I cannot count on my state or federal government to help me. This planning for the future makes me a vocal advocate.
Where does one start? Start with a vision. Start with hope. Where there is no hope the people perish. Write that vision down. Enlist the help of your family. Enlist the help of your extended family. Enlist the help of friends. Friends will help a lot more than you think they will, if they are asked to specifically perform a task. They just don’t often know what to do. If you give them specifically something to do, they often try to help. Build your own personal support team around your family.
Then remember to take care of yourself and your family AS you take care of your loved one with autism. Broken families (I know from personal experience) and emotionally and physically sick parents cannot effectively build support systems for their loved ones with ASD.
I challenge each one of you to sign onto this blog and enter your personal vision for your family. I’ll go first. I hope that one day I’ll be able to travel and retire from working each day. I hope my adult son will be happily married to someone who truly loves him and helps him. I hope he’ll continue to feel more empowered, less-anxious and stressed and better about all the gifts he has to give to the world.
For now, I know what we need to continue to work on.