Some people are jolted by birthdays ending in zero.
For special needs families, the scary birthday is 22. The age when guaranteed-by-law school services end. When a shortage of programs for the tsunami of special needs youth “aging out” of the school system means some families suddenly have a highly-challenged young adult at home. All day, every day.
No engaging activities in the community for the special needs individual. No income earning time available for a parent on 24/7 supervision duty. It is a daunting possibility.
There are dedicated social workers and organizations doing their best to offer support. For a day program. For the help of an assistant a few hours a day. For a residential placement.
But the upswing in the special needs young adult population is overwhelming, and resources have yet to catch up. The need will not diminish anytime soon.
When our autistic son was in his mid-teens, workshops to prepare for the big “transition” left us depressed. Our gloom about the future lightened with the appearance of a magical “autism whisperer” for our son. Working miracles in a remarkably short time, this gifted young teacher raised our hopes. Spirits plunged again with his sudden passing (In Memory and Thanks, Getting Sean Out).
We picked ourselves up, found wonderful new support, and kept our son on a path of progress. Time flew by.
And now we are here. I wrote the draft of this Insights post on my son’s 22nd birthday. We hope for an opening in a good program when he finishes the school year.
The looming shadow of the future we dreaded so long has arrived. Yet we keep getting up and getting outdoors. Putting one hiking boot in front of the other.
This week’s Hike Notes are about the Julian Trail - Marin Headlands, a path edged by geological formations on one side, views of rolling shadowy hills facing Rodeo Valley on the other. How fortunate we are to have the support system of nature all around us.
Please feel free to share. If you’re not able to take one of these Northern California hikes, hopefully you can enjoy the photos!
The list of hikes is getting long! Please check the Quick View Hike List or scroll down the main Hikes page to see the current list of hike notes.
New this week:
Hike Notes 51: Julian Trail – Marin Headlands
Sharing insights and hiking highlights (Hikes, Hike Search by Area) from the special needs caregiver front in San Francisco.