Today is Joe's last day of high school. When I was younger and so much more naive I used to dream about this day. "If only I can get him to graduate then _________" (fill in the blank). Now that I am older and wiser, I realize this is just another twist in the road.
A few months back, Joe was accepted into the VR program at his school. This is a program that aims to get special needs graduates employed after high school. They take them on several job assessments and the goal (as I understood it) was to find a company where Joe wanted to work and could be successful as well as a company that wanted Joe.
So why, did the assessor take him to places that he didn't want to work? Why did she spend so much time telling me why the employer wouldn't want Joe? If the employer is that difficult to work for, why is she bringing potential special needs employees there?
Most of her complaints against Joe were rather minor. She tells him to put some cans on a shelf. He says "Are you sure that is where they go?" and she thinks he is undermining her authority. Really? Has she ever talked to an autistic person in her life?? Joe questions everything. That is just the way he is.
She claimed he was too negative. This is a legitimate claim against many on the spectrum. But not Joe.
This is the child that when my sister's cat ran away, he tried to console my sister that she still has another cat. When I'm running late and am wearing my workout clothes, he tells me that "at least you had a chance to take a shower" when actually I didn't. When my car was totaled it was "at least we still have two other cars." This young man could be the poster child for looking on the bright side.
To the age old question of "Is the glass half full or half empty?" Joe would probably respond "The important thing is that you have a glass!"
So now I am facing graduation with an unemployed 18 year old. I am terrified. I am sure he will eventually work somewhere although hell will freeze over before I let it be the sheltered workshop she thinks he needs. The kid drives for crying out loud. Okay, deep breath mama bear.
At least I have Joe.