**A non-stampin'/crafting post**
This is just one of those posts where I need to just get my thoughts down and pour some of this "stuff" out of my brain and my heart.
I'd really been looking forward to going with Mike to Lindsay's first evaluation for her internship with Project Search today. For an autistic person....change is one of the hardest things to face and when she started this new adventure as the school year began she really was having a rough time. Actually she had a very rough summer realizing that she would not be returning to her class at the high school again. (Students with special needs can stay in school until they are 22). Having already graduated and then returning for one year as a "super senior", Linz was comfortable and extremely successful. She'd found her niche. She knew enough to realize that her future was unsure....what WOULD she do when she grew up?
We couldn't answer that....as much as we wanted to be able to.
Now understand that life with kids with autism gets harder as they get older because they aren't just "cute little kids" with autism anymore. People look at them differently and the expectations...well I have no words on that subject.
We have been praising God with all of the milestones with this new venture because she's just beyond happy and content in this program. The program has only five students left out of the 8 who started the school year together at the hospital as the inaugural year of the program began. There are two job coaches on site working with the students every day and Linz has had an awesome first internship working in the IT department.
Tomorrow marks her last day there and she will spend the next week working again on learning about resumes, workplace expectations and how to be good in an interview etc. Then she'll be off for Winter Break and start her second internship when school begins again in January.
Her first internship was a perfect fit for her. She loves the ladies in her office and she was made to feel like one of the team. She had her own desk and office "space" and they couldn't keep up with the speed and accuracy of her work. Her daily tasks would just blow your mind!
So Mike and I met at the hospital today eager to hear about her progress and all of her successes. Well....when we sat down and her teacher there on site began talking to us my eyes were fixed on the Evaluation Form on the table. As he was talking, my eyes were looking at her scores for each criteria. The highest score possible for each was a "4". I'll admit there was a long column of "4's" that I noticed first and then I noticed that there were a couple of "2's" and even a "1.6".. Let me just say here that Linz always was excited for report card day in school because for the most part....she'd get all "A's".
When I looked to see where her "trouble" areas were I noticed the dreaded heading which read "Social Skills and Interactions". Great...just great. For all those who love to chat with her or read her "Linz Quotes of the Day" on Facebook, apparently that doesn't get a girl too far on an evaluation. While he was talking, her teacher and job coach praised her work ethic, all of her skills and a lot more. It was when he started talking about her "interest in Disney and cartoons" that my stomach started to roll. For years there was absolutely nothing that she hated more than the thought of having to read a book.....ANY book. Now, she has created a library in her room..."Lindsay's Library Palace" as she's dubbed it... and not a day goes by that she's not reading. Is it War and Peace or Little Women or The Works of William Shakespeare??? Well NO, it's not. but she LOVES going to the used book store and even the "normal" bookstore, as she calls it, to buy new chapter books to read. It's her passion. It gives her pure JOY. Plain and simple.
So today we were advised that we need to work with her to start to "curb" her interest in Smurfs, Disney and other things cartoony and "help" her "find" new interest that are more "age appropriate". My heart sank.
Now it might seem like a logical step to you but let me say that if you asked me to find a word....one single word that best describes my daughter Lindsay....it would be JOY. Best of all...she's LOVES bringing joy to others. I don't want that joy to be dampened....I don't want her spirit to be squashed.... Those things make her happy. She has NO friends. NO ONE that she can have over to visit, have a sleep over, go out to see movies with, go shopping with.... Well...that's not true. She has me. I'm her "Lady Twin". In my humble opinion, Linz was dealt a pretty shitty hand of cards to live with and if Disney and Smurfs make her happy...then so be it. If that means that she isn't one of the first kids in the program to be offered permanent employment from the internships (and she wasn't)...so be it. Doing those things....drawing Smurfs....visiting Disney....reading junior chapter books....they all make her the happy go lucky girl she is and we LOVE her just where she is. While we want what's best for her....I will NOT squash her dreams and be responsible for extinguishing that joy. She has SO many gifts to share and I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that God has the perfect place for her where she will bless SO many people. I have to believe that. I stay awake at night worrying and praying about what will happen to my two autistic children when something happens to me and to Mike. My only comfort is that God is in control and I know that He holds them in the palm of His hand and will never let them fall. And guess what...He loves her, my little Disney Princess....Smurfs and all.
I'll claim responsibility for instilling that love of Disney. If you know me...you know I'd be happy working and living in Orlando. Seriously. I love spreading a little pixiedust and making people smile. What's wrong with that? I hope no one at my school system finds out I love Disney.....
Oh wait! I think they might already know! Gasp!
If you've read this post thus far....well....Mom, I'm going to bed now. :-) I just needed to pour it all out.
So now let me wish you a most Magical and Smurfy Day!
Blessings to you and those you love,
P.S. I love all things Disney too....I hope they still let me teach kids at school tomorrow!