Since Noah has had an IEP since 3rd grade, I have learned how to help him where the IEP services can’t. In the real world, people aren’t going to be as forgiving for the Aspie remarks that mostly go unfiltered. In addition, I will not always be with my child. I know he needs to learn how to manage without me by his side.
In order to fill in the gaps where resource classes leave off, My husband and I discuss some of the skills he will need in the real world and how do we provide those skills in a safe setting.
One of the skills that all people need to learn is how to work with others. In order to teach this vital skill we wanted our son Noah to work in a safe environment. Luckily through our temple, Noah volunteered during his 8th and 9th grade year. He answered phones, prepared snacks, and helped the janitor clean-up. Noah had to learn how to answer a phone politely. This was a real challenge. Normally he would answer, “Yes?” The temple was very patient and took the time to teach Noah to answer the phone, “Hello, XXXX synagogue, student speaking.” What an improvement. He had to learn how to take direction and ask for clarification instead of saying, “I got it.” When in fact he didn’t understand and needed the directions repeated. What a great learning experience for Noah.
My husband and I didn’t stop there. We knew he also needed to continue his learning to work with others but also Noah needed how to learn to be on his own. So, we sent him to a counselor in leadership training program (KILT). It wasn’t any program. We knew about this program and knew the head of the KILT program. We took the time to talk to other parents whose children attended the program. When we applied for the program, we made sure the camp and the head of the KILT program were aware for Noah’s issues. Noah was accepted for the summer of 10th grade! He went to the KILT program for 3 weeks. This would be the first time he went away for more than one week. He would actually be away for 2 weeks without us and one week we would be part of the family camp. The first year was challenging for Noah and the camp leader. However, he returned last summer and completed a very successful year. This summer will be his last summer in the program. Noah is very excited about going. Now that he has gone to the camp for 3 summers (one summer as a camper and 2 summers as a KILT) he is more open to participating. Noah has gained confidence, learned to help others, and take direction.
Now, Noah is heading towards his senior year. College living and dorm life can be scary for any person. Noah wanted to go to computer camp during his summer. So, I found a computer camp on a college campus. In fact, I found a computer camp on a college campus where he needed to stay in the dorms for 2 weeks. Noah realized staying n a dorm with other students isn’t as scary as he had once thought. In his mind, it was doable. He learned how to be responsible for remembering to take his medicine, shower without being reminded, sleep in a room with strangers, and go to camp away from home. Having conquering his biggest fears helped build his self-esteem as well as erased some of Noah’s fears about college life.
Taking the time to think about the skills needed in order to be a successful adult and finding a safe environment to practice these skills will be so enriching for your Aspie child.