Saturday, December 10, 2011

18 Year Old Aspies, "Adults" in the Real World

This is a repost from my WordPress blog of the same name, dated July 15, 2009. (For all of my posts before 4/23/10 you can go there.) I have chosen to reprint  it at this time, because my baby, CM2, having turned 18 was required to register  with the selective service. This is something we, parents of boys, need to remember. Our sons, if they ever hope to qualify for any future assistance whether  medicaid, social security benefits, or a college student loan, are required, within one month of their 18th birthdays, to register for the draft.

Honestly, CM2 was quite hesitant. He didn't really want to do it but I explained the law to him and he of course relented. I also told him that he has nothing to really worry about since he has aspergers and is on lots of medication, the armed services would not take him. (At least at present. That part, of course, I kept to myself. No need to assault the OCD and make him worry about something that may never ever happen.) "Phshew," he said, and went on about his business. Honestly I think the boys have enough to deal with on a daily basis when facing a neurotypical world with a nonneurotypical brain. They will find other ways to serve their country, one in which they will flourish and be able to provide the best of themselves.


Believe me when I say we honor those who choose to serve this nation through the armed services. We honor their bravery, their fortitude and their adherence to duty, honor and country. We honor their families for the service they give to this nation as well.  Meanwhile, if you want to support those who serve this holiday season please give to:
USO
Wounded Warrior Project
Soldier's Angels
Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors
(If you prefer other organizations that serve our military families, please put it in the comment section.)

Additionally, there seems to be an inordinately high number of offspring of our soldiers who have an autism spectrum disorder.The following are organizations that serve military families with autistic children:
ACT Today for Military Families 
STOMP- Specialized Training for Military Families 
SAMHSA
(If you know of any other organizations that serve military families with autistic children please put it in the comments.)

Another truly terrific organization, that serves the entire community, is the Marine Corp Toys for Tots. 

*****

For all those who serve this holiday season:

May God bless you and keep you. May he shine his coutnenance upon you. May he bring you peace...but most improtantly may he bring you home, safe and sound into the arms of your loved ones.

******

I have to admit that I had the hardest time trying to decide what this latest blog was going to be about. Not that there weren’t many issues to discuss, but quite frankly most of the issues were just repeats of the same old same old. Then I had an interesing converstion with my girlfriend who lives in another state, in a far away part of the country. We were discussing this absolute need of our 18 year old childen to remind us that they are now adults, and that they can make their own decisions.

Ok, ok, they are 18 years old. Technically they are adults. Technically they can sign contracts,get married, pay taxes, buy a gun in most states, vote in elections for president  and go off to war and die for their country. The only they really can’t do is buy a beer. Now I can’t be  the only one who sees the convuluted inanity in that scenerio. However, I digress. So technically our children are adults. But they are adults with aspergers syndrome, which means they still behave and reason like persons much younger than themselves.

So when they say they are adults and can make their own decisions what do you do? The reality is that they have no income that would allow them to live, never mind in the manner that you provide, but live at all as anything but a homeless person. They can provide gas for their cars, money for movies and popcorn, buy their school books, but not much else. So you sit down with these "adults" and try to show them what life really entails. They have no idea about rent, insurance health/auto/rental, electric bills, water bills, grocery bills, cost of furniture and clothes, never mind entertainment. Generally they have no idea about the cost of living or the value of a dollar.

I actually had CM1 sit down and we went over these things. We did not even have to discuss money amounts, all I did was list the things he had to think about and that was enough. He began to understand that being an adult was not just about making decisions but was filled with responsibilities that he had no idea about.

We did compromise about his decision making though. When we discuss what he is going to do, or how something is to be done, or what he wants to study in  school, he will say, "It’s my life. I will decide." I do give him that much. It is his life and some decisions he does have to make for himself. I don’t want to tell him what to decide to study in college because I want him to enjoy his education. I shouldn’t be telling him how to organize his day, he is old enough for that. He decides what books to read, what games to play and what shows to watch. He even writes want he wants on You Tube in the comment sections, even though we did have to explain to him why you do not use your real name, and had to have him reregister and erase his old account.

I would actually say its not an issue of incapability. It is an issue of innocense. He sees no bad, does not understand that he can be taken advantage of. Case in point, if you had read an earlier blog, you know that he got in trouble for taking my credit card to give to charity even after I told him no. Well, the same charity called the other day when I was out. He was so upset by what they told him, that he gave them $200 on his debit/mastercard. He basically donated  everything he had earned so far this summer at his job. While the charity was a vey respected and legitimate operation he got a lesson in phone fraud. We came up with hard and fast rules for him about charities.

1. if they call, have them send information
2. do not pledge anything until you investigate the charity
3. never give anyone your credit card. pay with a check. if they do not take checks they are definitely not legitimate
4. it is also ok to say no
5. if they give you a hard time, hang up

My husband wanted to call the charity and cancel the pledge. But he’s 18, an adult, with a valid vebal contract. I actually think it was a good lesson One of caution for him. Something to ponder.  Here he was an adult, like he wanted, with no money for his mangas. However, instead of asking me for a loan, he actually then did 5 loads of laundry to earn some money.  Very adult. Not bad, not bad at all.

So here we go into the world of inbetween. A legal aged aspie, innocent to a fault, good natured to a fault, trusting young man with a heart of gold. Not unlike his neurotypical peers, those innocent beautiful 18 year old legal adults who die every day defending this country but can’t buy a damn beer.


Until next time,


Elise