Bring It 2018, My Son With Autism Is Ready for You, Even If I'm Not

Every New Year’s Eve I find myself straddling the time gap between what was and what will be. Begging Father Time for just one more moment “here” before he pushes my kids and me “there.” Holding onto the past while looking forward to the future.

It’s easy to preach “live in the moment” or “seize the day” or “take it one day at a time,” but it’s not quite so easy to do. For this “old lady,” who is somewhat reluctant to step forward and leave a great 2017, I think I’m even more concerned about what 2018 will bring. You see, moving forward means being a year closer to the end of Ryan’s high school career, so the fear of “what’s next” tends to reverberate through my brain as loudly as those damn horns my kids love to blow on New Year’s Eve.

The year 2018 will begin the start of college searches, SAT and ACT preparation, drivers license and career ideas. All of which is equally exciting and terrifying and signifies Ryan’s movement towards leaving this protective bubble I’ve tried to create for him. What if 2018 is the year the bubble pops?

I am incredibly grateful he can plan for his future, incredibly proud he wants to, but still incredibly scared he plans to. There are not enough heart emojis in the world to represent my pride in how far he has come and how much work he has done since we first heard he has autism over a decade ago.

What has changed in this past decade is not my worry and fear about what Ryan can or can’t do, because he has proven time and time again that if he wants to do it, he can do it. What worries me as we continue to move forward into the future, is whether or not a college, a boss, the world believes he can. Are they ready to embrace him? Are they ready to accept all the wonderful that comes along with neurodiversity? Are they willing to think outside the box and see how beautiful the inside of a different box can be?

We cannot see what is in store for my son’s future in 2018. But, what I can see, what I can predict as I straddle the gap between what was and what will be, is a courageous teenager who continues to prove that without a world of “different,” the world would most undoubtedly be less.

So bring it 2018, my son is waiting for you (even if I’m not).

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Editor’s note: This story has been published with permission from the author’s son.

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