With a young adult special needs person, one would think that a parent had navigated most of those unchartered areas of life that come with unplanned challenges. Not so! In fact, once graduation takes place there are all kinds of other challenges that one did not make arrangements for that must be addressed such as living arrangements, supervision and either further educational opportunities or employment when possible. Keeping an active social life for the young adult is important for their well-being and yours. Don’t let their world narrow down to just the four walls of your home.
That is a difficulty for some parents; some social situations are difficult. Depending on the young person’s abilities the options are open to whatever decision the parents and the young person see as being a possibility. Take advantage of every opportunity that you can to widen their circle of interaction. You never know where that may lead regarding contacts, volunteer situations, or even eventual employment that they may find fulfilling.
In this time of financial cutbacks and downsizings, finding funding for either additional schooling when possible; or, for a place of employment to take on a person with special needs is becoming harder to find. Employers have had to cut back on the number of employees and hiring a special needs person may not fit their needs. For those who are in a rural setting, it is even more difficult. There are less employment situations. Check with your friends, your co-workers, even with members of a church or an organization that you may belong to. Some counties have specially trained job coaches available to work with a special needs individual to find a job that fits them and their abilities.
Finding an agency or organization that is versed in this area of help is beneficial, if you can find one. In the meantime, dealing with the young person’s expectations of instantly getting a job can be very discouraging. Filling up the day with activities and opportunities that keep them engaged and being productive is important.
Don’t fall into the trap of allowing them to sit in front of the television, computer or computerized gaming systems just to occupy them. Let them dream of something bigger and better, help them to achieve what is their highest level of functioning. It may be unchartered territory…but it doesn’t mean you have to stay adrift on the ocean with no goals or plans in site. Their quality of life is greatly improved when goals are set and met; the individual has expectations of how life should be, help them achieve their personal best.
My husband and I are the proud parents of six adopted children. We have 3 girls and 3 boys. Each person has their own gifts and blessings. Some of those children are special needs children; and some are not. We have children with special needs issues ranging from bi-polarism, to ADHD, to learning disabilities, to fetal alcohol spectrum disorders, some have behavior related issues. One is homeschooled, one is in special education classes, one should have been, and some have benefitted from regular educational services. Some are adults living their own lives very successfully. Others struggle in some areas of day- to- day activities. A couple have to be supervised or encouraged every waking moment of the day to help keep them focussed on being the best person that they can be. They are all loved, supported and have brought much to our family.
Each person has their abilities and their challenges. None of them did anything to deserve the life they were born into; they had no control over the very beginning of their life. Yet, each of them must strive to have a loving, healthy, productive and happy life. It is possible. Some adaptations may be required for some of my children to have an independent life; but, it is possible. Since it IS possible, we will do whatever we can do to help make that happen.
Adoption is a complex thing. It serves many purposes and yet…it has an ability to wound, to heal, to lift up, to destroy, to save lives, and to shuffle lives. There are always imprints of a life that was supposed to be; melded into the life that is gifted and aborbed into another family. There are moments of: celebration, sadness, regrets, and purposeful choices; adoption is a wonderfully, painful mixture of the emotional buffet of life! It is a parent’s responsibility to seek excellence for the quality of life for their children.
Our family is special and unique; I bet your family is too! We have had many successes as a family; as well as, some twists and turns that were unexpected. The dream of a new parent doesn’t usually include the expectation that things could turn out differently from the dream of a picture perfect family. A birth family or an adopted family does not get to choose from an ‘ala carte menu, of challenges it may or may not face. As most parents would say, we live and breath for our children; and yet, we are not ashamed to say at times…we wonder…did we do the right thing? Our children didn’t get a choice in life in which family they would grow up in. There are shades of grey for each person…balancing the pros and cons of adoption.
Whether a child is brought into a family by birthing it into the family, or by adoption…the child is received with awe, with excitement, and with hope for a beautiful future. There are unexpected situations at times regarding health issues, behavioral issues, attachment issues, emotional issues and even loyalty issues. Those things and more can affect the foundation of a family.
Many families are jolted to learn that their child has special needs or that their adopted child has issues that will affect them and their family for years to come. It is a difficult time for parents and other siblings to struggle to learn about the issues facing the family…because…none of us go it alone.
Family is a support system all unto itself…but, sometimes the issues can seem overwhelming. That is the time that families need to reach beyond their boundaries that are self imposed, because many do not understand what we face as families with challenges. Don’t let that stop you from reaching out. You just might be surprised by the impact that you could have on another…or vice versa.
Really, for many people going through the shattered reality that their family is not following the dream of perfect completion…there is a sense of isolation and a perceived lack of understanding from others who have not walked in the same pair of shoes.
So, is there a need for support and information for families who have experiences that can mirror each other? Is there a wealth of understanding that is untapped because we have not had the opportunity to join forces and absorb techniques and encouragement from one another? I think there is. I have heard so many comments that would break your heart. Families that are under so much strain that they threaten to break and disintegrate under the pressure. If one person or family can benefit from sharing and encouraging each other here; then, the blog will have served it purpose.
Do you know someone who has things to share? Do you know someone who could benefit from a little support or information? Do you know someone who is facing a future with a special needs child and is struggling? Do you know someone with rose colored glasses that is thinking about adoption; but, isn’t willing to accept anything less than perfection? Bring them to a place that will enlighten them, encourage them, and embrace them! Families should be celebrated and enjoyed…not everyone is blessed with people to share their love with.