I gave a speech over the weekend, and at the end of my talk, a gal stood up and said, “I picture your son dressed in a suit with a briefcase driving to work.” I was blown away. I looked at her and said, “My son has a suit but only uses it for weddings and funerals, he doesn’t own a briefcase and will never drive a car, due to having intractable epilepsy.” In her mind, she thought that because my son has been able to live alone for thirteen years, that all was well.
It was very important that I set her straight and I do the same for anyone else who has misunderstood who my son, Brandon, is. Brandon has Asperger’s, intractable epilepsy, and severe learning disorders. He has an enormous amount of limitations. Everyday, he has great hurdles to get over and challenges to overcome. The reason I write about this, is that I don’t want to give anyone a false impression that all is great with Brandon and life is easy for him. That is not the case.
Yes, he is able to live alone, which is a miracle combined with a ton of hard work from both Brandon and myself. I realize that it is rare for a person with so many limitations to be living on his own. With that said, I think it is very important for you to know why he is successful.
I never focus on his challenges and limitations. I stay focused on what my son can do. I do not listen to others who are full of fear and think that my son has too many limitations to be on his own.
Yes, on some days if you were to meet Brandon, you might scratch your head in disbelief and say, “How does Amalia allow her son to live alone, how does he do it?” However, on good days he seems to fit in fairly well. He wants to fit in very badly and to be like everyone else so he works at it all the time. I have said before that Brandon is enrolled in class 101, learning life while living life. How else does a person learn?
I am aware that not every child with special needs will be able or will want to live alone. However, my mission is to help parents help their children reach maximum independence.
So, if you want your children to be successful, begin right now. Do not buy into what others say about your child not being able to do something. Find the courage within and stay focused on what your child can do. What we place out attention on is where we put our energy. Why not focus on the positive and watch the positive grow and develop allowing your child’s limitations to become less important.
As parents, it helps to know that there are many ways to get to the top of the mountain. It is not how long it takes your child or how he or she does it. What matters is that you give your child the opportunity to climb the mountain as you love and support him or her each step of the way.