Charlie and I were in the car driving home from school and I asked him a few questions.
He is 17 and has autism.
Me: "Charlie what kind of apartment do you like? A one-story or a two-story."
Charlie: "Well, let me see. Which one is better?"
Me: "It is really up to you."
Charlie: "I would like something that is small since I will be doing everything by myself."
Perfect I thought!
He is thinking about what that could look like and the possibilities of it as well.
I think it is so important to talk to our kids about the possibilities, about the future.
Instead of us asking if they want to or if they are able to do this, ask them about the details of what will it look like when they get there.
When they arrive at their destination or reach their goals what will that be like? What will that look like?
This is an expectation.
It is similar to when I went to high school. I attended Westminster Academy in Fort Lauderdale, FL. It was a private school whose assumption was all are going to go to college. They were there to help us figure out which one we would go to, not if we would go. I didn't feel any pressure because it was already an expectation for years that this would be the end goal of high school.
Let our end goal be the same with our kids. It may not be what does your apartment look like. It may be how do you want your area in our home to be organized after high school so you can make it your personal apartment space.
How are you helping them to visually see and be excited for those next steps to independence in helping themselves no matter if it is away from you or still remaining living with you?
Let's empower them to be motivated to want to do these things. When we encourage them, it will encourage us to let go a little bit more too.
It is never too late for this, but if you can start talking this way in their middle school years then there is plenty of time to figure out how to get there.
They can do it! You can do it!