Fredericksburg Parent

April 2018

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www.FredParent.NET 17 Parents should also be mindful that every child with special needs is different. Resources for Autism Autism Society of Northern Virginia (also serves the Fredericksburg area) (703) 495-8444 Children's Hospital of Richmond, Fredericksburg Therapy Center (540) 891-4485 Fredericksburg-Therapy-Center.htm disAbility Resource Center (540)-373-2559 Paragon Autism Services (540) 479-3889 Virginia Autism Resource Center (804) 674-8888 Jessica Porter, the mother of a teenaged boy with autism, shares the same feelings. "My son is currently 14, but adulthood still weighs on me," Porter says. "What will his life be like? Will he enjoy all life has to offer? Will his social circle always only be his grandmother and me? What level of independence will he have?" Porter turned to an online support group to express her thoughts and emotions. "It's just nice to vent to those who may be in a similar situation," she says. "Having friends with children on the spectrum helps, too, knowing that you are not alone." Like Lett, Porter also wonders about employment opportunities for her son. "I worry about what his day will be like," Porter says. "Will he want and have a job? A job that actually benefits him, not one where he earns pennies an hour? Will he be able to go anywhere independently, or will he always need someone right with him?" Lett recommends that moms and dads with the same questions about their special needs child turn to local resources for help. The disAbility Resource Center, which will celebrate its 25 th anniversary this year, is a center for independent living that serves people of all ages with disabili- ties and their families. "Learn as much as you can about transition—employment, education, hous- ing, finances, long-term care services, Social Security, and other state and federal benefits—as early as you can," Lett suggests. "Go to workshops, trainings and conferences to learn and keep abreast of what is available to help support your child and their goals as they get older." "When talking about transition, it's important to remember that autism is a spectrum," said Elizabeth Roy, executive director of the Autism Society of Northern Virginia. "Each individual will have unique needs and so each individual's transition will look different. Equally important is keeping in mind that people change. Transition plans should be detailed enough that they can be used as a road map but flexible enough that they can adapt to an individual's changing needs." While it can be overwhelming to anticipate what the future holds for your child, Porter recom- mends taking a breather every now and then and simply relish the present. "I try to enjoy my son for who he is," Porter says. "Take it one day at a time. And, if that is too much, then one minute at a time." Elizabeth Roy, Executive Director, Autism Society of Northern Virginia. Photo by Kerry Mulhern

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