Typical teenagers are in high school and then to further their learning, they go into college or specialty schools or even job training - the list is endless. Adults are always trying to teach themselves new things- whether you want to learn to cook better, ride a motorcycle, learn a foreign language for the first time. The possibilities are endless.
So tell me why...why when our children with autism reach adulthood that most services cease. Most learning programs are either hard to come by or don't exist at all. The number of behavior analysts that see adults with autism are VERY few and typically only in residential, group homes or crisis situations. I want to know why. Our children are in adulthood far longer than they are in childhood. Their learning doesn't cease because they reach a magically age, just like your learning never stops throughout your lifetime Just because Kreed didn't learn to brush his teeth or shower or put on his shoes as a young child, doesn't mean he can't learning it now. He makes weekly gains as we work on it. Kreed had zero communication for most of his life until he was 14 years old. Then he used a device for the first time and was able to ask for a few things. By the time he was 16 even more technology came out and he began to have small conversations with those closest to him. Who knows what he will be saying when he's in his 20's...30's or beyond. His learning doesn't stop.
Why aren't there inclusive communities that don't cost thousands of dollars to attend? Why aren't there behavior analysts willing to work daily with our kids to continue their learning. I don't care if a child didn't learn to read during their childhood, keep trying. Their brains haven't stopped processing information. These children don't become brain dead overnight on their 18th birthday. Learning is lifelong. Period.
While some may say "but Kreed is an easy child, look at what he's learning, my child can't do that," I will promptly direct you to the rage videos we have posted on youtube. Kreed was never an easy child. Ever. He was hard. He caused chaos and destruction and everyone who encountered him labeled him as unteachable and that he would never communicate or learn anything of substance. We chose to reject that view and worked countless hours and stayed incredibly consistent with him and gave him a communication device where we then spent many more thousands of hours teaching it to him. He was HARD. He still can be if he's in the mood. But I always knew when he was about 12/13 that if we didn't work our butt's off to get some of those behaviors under control and give him communication, then we would be the family holding on and surviving. So we pushed and we gave up a lot to get him where he is today and continue to. Because it's OUR future. It's not just HIS future, but it's ours as caregivers as well. We are fully aware of the lack of services and that the responsibility for his care falls squarely on our shoulders. So we took it and we teach him. Some days more than others. Some days are complete failures. Others are complete successes. But on our failure days we always know there are new days to come and get back on our feet.