Learning Independence

Ever since Peyton was first diagnosed with Autism, I have thought about what will his future be like? While this is a common theme among all parents of all kids, it is different when your child is special needs. I have set goals not only for Peyton, but for myself. I knew I needed to change how I viewed things, as well as how I interacted with my kids. When my older kids were young, I had a “comfort level” that when I taught them things they had a level of comprehension. This wasn’t and isn’t always true for Peyton. Things that were so easy for my other kids, came with a struggle for him. I see him struggle daily, sometimes with the easiest of things, this hurts my heart. I want so badly to just do things for him and make it easier. I do know however that while it may make the moment easier, it will make the future harder. I tell him daily that I want him to try his best, I realize that in order for him to be a productive adult and have a level of independence, he needs to learn as many life skills as possible. I also know that there are times he needs to find his own “solutions” to problems.

Independence for Peyton, is both his and my goal for his future. What that level of independence is, still remains to be seen. I have never sat back and figured oh well, Peyton will never be able to live on his own, so I won’t push him. I have had fellow special needs parents say to me, it’s easier to just accept they won’t be able to do things. While this is true, it’s sad…how can you not want your child to be given an opportunity to be the best they can be? If Peyton has to spend his adulthood living with us, then that’s how it will be, I am fine with that. I won’t however; wave the white flag and give up. Life is a learning process for all of us, some just takes longer and is more difficult.

We homeschool Peyton and one thing we are adamant on with him is that he do his best to learn. We don’t sit and do his homework for him, nor have him learn to “pass a test” We want him to actually learn. We have taught him that it is important he not only learn his studies, but also learn life skills. Peyton cooks for himself, keeps his room clean and does a lot of other day-to-day chores. We are working with him on money and other “adult” skills. I want him to have as many tools to be a successful adult as possible. The word ” independence” has a different meaning when it comes to Peyton than it did with my older kids. Whatever level of independence Peyton achieves, I will be happy, as I know we worked hard to achieve that. I haven’t and won’t give up on Peyton, and it bothers me to see other Parents of special needs kids give up. It isn’t fair to either!

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