Though formal programs for children diagnosed with autism continue through high school, at 21 these programs end, and the options for care become less clear. This process is known in the autistic community as "aging out."
As we rally around, trying to distance or identify with the parent, Alex and those like him are all but forgotten. His life is seen as an example of what some must endure. But what about Alex? What about what Alex had to endure?
It is my hope, for those of you who may be at the beginning of your journey with an autistic child, that these things might help you avoid some of the many, many mistakes we made and a great deal of unnecessary pain.
Being in contact with these kind autists has taught me more than any specialist, article, book or news show. These people with their writing and blogs have opened my mind to the very real possibilities that exist for my daughter. This gives me hope.
I am constantly impressed with my 10-year-old autistic daughter Emma's mind and creative use of words. I often think when I listen to her that there's a kind of poetry in the way she phrases things, the way she will use seemingly unrelated words to describe something.
The fact that Emma was able to communicate to Joe that she'd had a rough day is a massive leap forward for her. Secondly, that she was able to then make it known that what she now wanted to do was see me was nothing short of amazing.