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Grateful

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I hear the familiar phrase “watch the tram car” as I walk into our bedroom, and glance over to see Justin taking a virtual tour of the Wildwood boardwalk, a venue he hasn’t been to in almost fourteen years. He is calmly watching a man extoll the virtues of the Jersey shore, leaning back in his chair, relaxed and calm. Justin has such a prodigious memory that perhaps he does somehow recall strolling the boardwalk with his parents when he was three. I’m fascinated that he found this video, and would love to know what transpired in his head for him to google it.

What I wouldn’t give to know what transpires in his head.

My seventeen-year-old son Justin is severely autistic and non-verbal. We were lucky enough to get him diagnosed very early, and were able to start therapies with him when he was just eighteen months old. This, plus his amazing autism school, and the fact that he has a loving nature, has led to the mostly happy young man we have today. Justin has been amazing during the pandemic, not trying to leave the house, not throwing his shoes at me as he used to do when younger and wishing to go somewhere fun. He seems to have accepted his confinement with grace, rotating during the day from instruction from me to his computer and then his DVD player.

To say I am very lucky for his acceptance would be a gross understatement.

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These past months have really given me a chance to think about his future, and to reevaluate things. Justin will graduate from his wonderful autism school in four years, and to tell you the truth I’ve been dreading that day. Justin’s school has been one of the most wonderful parts of his life, filled with caring professionals who treat him with dignity and expect his best from him. I know that he loves going there from the way he bounds to the bus each morning, and his mostly stellar behavior while he’s there.

I’ve been dreading his graduation in part because of how important I know his school is to him, but also because I’ve dreaded what might be a prolonged stay at home while he transitions from school to a hopefully great day program. I didn’t know how we’d fill his days, or how he would react to not attending his beloved school anymore.Well, now I know.

My son has been amazing during these last months. We’ve been able to get him out of the house for walks, something I would never have contemplated in the past. He rotates around the house for me as I ask him to comply with his educational targets, and he does it without complaint.

I am sure he misses school. But if there’s any positive to a quarantine with him it’s this- when it’s over, he will be okay. We will find him a good program, he will behave, acclimate, and enjoy it.

I no longer dread the inevitable.

We will all be okay.

And for this knowledge, I am eternally grateful.

For more on my family visit my blog at autismmommytherapist.wordpress.com

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