Menopausal mom to 2 young adult sons (one with ASD, ADHD, tic/seizure disorders and the other with attitude).

Thursday, 2 February 2012

First Times...Steps Towards Independence

Riley is 17 years old and in grade 11. Scary thought I know. One of R's main IEP (Individual Education Plan/Program) goals has been to work towards his independence.  In less than 2 years he will be considered an adult. Yikes! Soooo…what comes next??? 

In an effort to push Riley to “be all he can be” (incidentally, he has risen to the occasion) sometimes things fall through the cracks. It usually isn’t until something out of the ordinary happens before we realize there’s an issue.

For the third time in a couple of months, Riley went to the wrong class at school. This is very unlike R as he has always used a visual schedule so knows exactly what is going to happen and when. Now we are always "tweaking" R’s supports (this time his visual schedule) in order to try and stay one step ahead of him and keep things challenging. Most times it is successful without any repercussions. Unfortunately…this was not one of them.

I got a call from the school this past Tuesday that they couldn’t find Riley was not where he was supposed to be. After going to all his classes, they did a class by class search, checked all the washrooms, and made an announcement over the PA system. Still no Riley. Now I’m 99.9% sure that R would never leave the school. Riley has never been a bolter. Yet as the time passed, I wasn’t quite as comfortable with that .1% …what if??? By the time the second call came that R was still unaccounted for, G was in the car retracing the route to school. Forty-five minutes after the first call, they located Riley in the gym. He was sitting in the bleachers amongst a class being taught first aid. One of the reasons he hadn’t been noticed when they were looking for him was that he had changed into his PE strip (like he normally would for PE) and they had been looking for him in his street clothes.

You may be thinking to yourselves…what kind of parents are you to sit there and not do anything? Did you not consider calling the police if he was missing for so long? How could the school not know where he was? All valid questions especially if your child is younger.  However, Riley is 17 years old and one of the hardest things we’ve had to learn is to try and let go of control (ever so slowly mind you) that “we” need. All the first times are definitely the hardest. The first time he walked into high school on his own, the first time he walked to class on his own, the first time he walked out of high school on his own, the first time he rode the bus by himself…I get stressed just thinking about it. Yet each and every time (with a lot of coaching and practice) Riley has been able to do it and seeing how proud he is of himself is all the incentive and motivation we need to keep at it.

I have to admit after a “first time” event, there is generally a martini and wine involved on my part. After 17 years…it’s no wonder I have grey hair and G doesn't have any.

Trying to hang in there…D

1 comment:

  1. I'm glad he was found safe and sound! Good for you for loosening the reigns a bit so he can gain more and more independence!