Monday, December 7, 2009

A Bleak Future?


I’m really starting to worry about my 17 year old son, Corey. If you’ve been a long time reader of my blog, you probably know a little about Corey, but if not, I’ll summarize.

Corey spent the first 8 years of his life living on the streets of Baltimore with his prostitute, alcoholic, drug addicted birth mother. Then, from ages 10-14, he was reluctantly rescued by his grandparents who took him to live in their Florida retirement community. After years of searching for another home for him (apparently his aunt and uncle, who live less than 5 miles from me, weren’t interested), I was approached and agreed to let him join my family. I first introduced my readers to Corey back in 2007.

Corey is diagnosed with depression, ADHD, and Asperger’s Syndrome. While his depression and ADHD are well controlled with medication, it’s the Asperger’s that has me worried for his future.

Corey has said he wants to join the military. I don’t think they will take him. His social skills are those of an 8-10 year old, and holding down a job isn’t something I believe will come easily for him. His grades in school are not good, and college, even community college, seems well out of reach.

So what will happen next year when he graduates from college? And what will happen with the rest of his life?

Even in a loving home, a home that balances limits with a chance to grow, he hasn’t grown. He is still a 10 year old ball of emotions with the cognitive ability of maybe a 9th grader, and the hormones of a grown man. How can all that be packaged into an employable person, a person who can provide for himself in the not too distant future?

I welcome any advice and suggestions any of you may have. Heck, I may even be willing to pay for them!

12 comments:

Cheryl said...

Does your local 2-year school/4-year university have a transition skills/job training program for students with these kinds of needs? It's been a growing trend over the past 20-25 years and there are programs all over the country. They are usually run by the local school system with school system funds but are held exclusively at the college. They are geared towards students that would be on the 7 year high school track to spend their last 2 years doing something more productive instead. That being said, does Corey receive any special ed services? Those with 504 plans won't qualify, it wouldn't be appropriate.

I am familiar with the program at my school which runs about 8:30-2. Students spend their mornings learning things like interview skills and how to decipher help wanted ads and their afternoons in their placements. Examples of placements include food service, the school post office, the school daycare (everyone's favorite, very barrier breaking on all sides) and even off site placements depending on the students' interests. I think I heard one year a student worked at old navy. Students with a need are placed with a job coach who is either one of the 2 full-time para-educators or a paid university student.

Queenbuv3 said...

Good luck : ) I hope some more experienced parents can give you some guidance. I wish I could offer some advice but we aren't there yet with our son and know he will, God willing, be living with us for the rest of his life regardless of job prospects in the future.

MMC said...

I spent Thursday morning taking a tour of our local vocational workshop to get ready for the Blue Jay's work placement at school.
http://www.flowercart.ca/page.aspx?page=1272site=flowercart

Although we generally think of such as places for the mentally challenged, I am pretty sure they offer some services to people like Corey, too, maybe in their "Transition to Work program.
http://www.flowercart.ca/page.aspx?page=1307&site=flowercart

Maybe your local vocational workshops would offer something similar? A lot of times they are working on social skills, both in general and in the workplace. And I have heard of some young adults who went there after high school, who had good marks in school, but were much like Corey in other ways. It might be worth checking out, no?

Terri said...

My thoughts were the same. Does he have an IEP? What does his transition plan/program look like? A vocational program, or a transition program at a college, see if there is a project SEARCH in your area...

Working now somewhere with a job coach might give him a good start. Don't worry too much about the hormones/adult/child stuff--those are the issues for all teens (tougher for ours, but still) and anyone who works with them will be familiar.

Just my thoughts!

Janet said...

No Corey does not have a bleak future. You are his mom and you will not allow that to happen.

What does that mean? I have no idea (though the folks who commented before me did :-) My little guy with autism is only 7, I have YEARS to go. Which I know isn't true - but I'm thankful for the people who go before me!

MMC said...

Janet, I've often wondered in passing what we would do/how our children would cope without the parents who went before us. The answer is, I suppose, that many of us would become 'those parents', our of simple necessity.

So now I thank God for those who went before us. And remind myself that we will be those parents who "went before" for the next generation. Never easy but it does put things in context. I'm eternally grateful for what's been done in the past and the willingness of other parents to share their experiences, successes and failures and just hope and pray that we (this generation) can hold up our part of the bargain.

Terri said...

Hi Debbie, I am glad your son has an IEP. I wasn't trying to put you down at all, or being snide, or obtuse, or whatever. In our area getting an IEP for kids with Aspergers can be impossible, (there is a lot of controversy about developmental disability vs mental health issues I guess) so there are lots of kids with that dx particularly who don't have IEPS, which is why I asked.

AND you can't access any of the transition programs around here without one. So if he didn't have one you would need different strategies...

A lot of transition programs take place on the campus of a community college or at a training center so the feel of 'staying in school' is not like high school anymore. Some kids like that better.

Corrie Howe said...

Wow! Déjà vu! I was an educational surrogate mom for a young man who sounds exactly like Corey. He was too old to foster or adopt, just trying to graduate from high school. We tried as much as we could under the circumstances. When he graduated he went back to his sister's and no one has heard from him since. I pray for him regularly that something from the year we spent together will take hold in him one day.

MB said...

Saw this article today and thought of your post -
http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/34047713/ns/health-mental_health/

Marla said...

I understand your concerns here. Hugs. Someone recently told me about a community called Triform. I have been looking into it. You may want to check it out.

www.triform.org

Marie said...

I don't have suggestions but I will be praying for him and you.

Lindsay said...

I know a girl who has a mild intellectual disability - she's 20 with the cognitive ability of around a 13=14 year old. She's been working on finishing her high school diploma, and plans to go to community college after...I think Corey might be able to have the same thing happen for him.