I never thought I would say this (let alone think it!) but I am so grateful today for my sons' diagnoses.
Joe is taking a class on Sex Ed from a local company that specializes in special needs kiddos. Most of their clients seem to have MR or something similar, but they are working to branch out into autism. Joe has taken a couple of art classes there and liked them well enough but he was always the highest functioning kid there by far. When they came out with the info on this class DH and I were all over it. Special needs kids are much more likely to be sexually abused than their typical counterparts and Joe is so naive about things (and uninterested in talking about them) that we figured this was perfect. As well, there is a young lady at his school with whom he is quite smitten and we figured before we let him actually "date" he should have a clue about was and wasn't appropriate.
The first two classes were relatively uneventful and didn't prompt him to want to discuss things at all. Sigh.
Then last night a new student walked in and lo and behold it was Tina, a girl with whom Joe had gone to grade school and upon whom he used to have an enormous crush! They had e-mailed a bit earlier in the calendar year and upon snooping through the e-mails I became even more convinced that this kid needed some boundaries. She "broke up" with him in April and at first he was quite upset but then he seemed to get over it. This fall he became smitten with Helen and we were thrilled. Helen is a sweet girl and seems just Joe's speed and we always thought Tina was waaaaaaaaaaay over Joe's level.
So Tina's mom called me last night to talk about the fact that both kids were in the same class and she told me a little bit about why she had enrolled Tina in the first place. Yikes! Tina was meeting guys at a local park after telling her parents she was going to church youth group and so her driving solo has been cut. She was sexting and meeting guys in online chat rooms and several other dangerous behaviors. But ... since she doesn't have a formal diagnosis (other than ADHD) she doesn't qualify for a lot of the services that they are now trying to get.
The whole conversation made me so thrilled with some of the choices we had made for Joe over the years. We opted to send him to a rather large public school with a lot of support instead of a small private school like Tina attended. He has done the work program through school and has been accepted into the vocational job placement program upon graduation. He has participated in a volunteer program for the last few summers and was told by one of the volunteer sites that they were likely interested in hiring him after next summer if he worked that hard again. We hope to enroll him in the community college in the fall and have him take a couple of classes to hopefully improve his future employ-ability. In general, his outlook looks good. Maybe he doesn't have a scholarship like some of his typical peers and maybe he isn't even going to attend a four year college, but he is happy, mostly trustworthy and generally a good kid who will most likely be gainfully employed within a few months of graduation.
Overall, his future looks so much brighter than Tina's mainly because of his diagnosis and the choices that we made that got him the support he needed when he needed it. There but for the grace of God go I ...