Raising a child who has experienced trauma from abandonment, foster care, and adoption along with an autism diagnosis is hard. Letting go and allowing them to take steps toward adulthood is even harder. I know parents never stop worrying about their children but you worry even more if they aren’t a neuro-typical child and they have a trauma background. How can I help my child be successful but also give him the independence he so badly wants?
One of the first things we started doing was helping our child with life skills. He is a little more motivated to learn now knowing he will be on his own soon. We have taught him how to wash his clothes, how to cook a variety of meals, how to clean each room of the house and how to create and follow a budget. All of these skills require practice and we haven’t mastered any of them yet. We did allow him to get his driving permit, but have made him practice driving for a year before allowing him to schedule testing for his driver’s license. Once he does get his license he will have a contract he needs to abide by until we feel comfortable with him driving on his own.
Another important skill we have found that needs practice is problem solving. This does not come naturally to most children who come from trauma, as trauma changes our brain, and impacts executive functioning skills. We practice problem solving skills by giving him a scenario, letting him try to solve the problem and then having him anticipate the outcome. If the anticipated outcome isn’t the outcome he wants we have him try to solve the problem again until he gets a satisfactory outcome.
The last independent skill we are currently examining and working toward is a future career. My son was approved for vocational rehabilitation which has been a very good experience for us. Now we are looking into jobs that have on the job training included or the possibility of attending a community college and then transitioning to a 4 year college. Lots of options and things to consider.
Some children with a trauma background and an autism diagnosis can live independently, they just may need our assistance in completing the obstacle course to get there. Hopefully my son can reach the independence he so desires and I can get let go a little more each day.
This blog post was written by post adopt coordinator and rockstar adoptive mom, Sherie Madewell-Buesgens.