Is the future academic?

What factors do you feel amount to a positive outcome for individuals with ASD and their families? Consider a child you know with ASD where do you think they will be and what will they be doing in 20 years?

This is my uni assignment for this week. It really hits home for me the differences between coming at this from a parent’s perspective as opposed to a professional’s.

It forces consideration of a future that for me is at best uncertain and at worst terrifying.

The academic material around the issue of future outcomes for those with spectrum conditions is rather cold and clinical. It is factual and with barely a nod at the emotional dimension. It is concerned more about informing social policy and best value perhaps and in that it is doing its job I guess. Perhaps it’s best to keep these things separate – the emotional and the factual? Raising this dimension in an academic forum is however still important in my view. In these austerity driven days when our professionals are required to adhere to the doctrines of their employers perhaps the emotional dimension should be given more prominence?

So what outcome would amount to a positive outcome for my precious boy? Well for me it is probably the same as most parents. I want him to be happy and healthy. I want him to be fulfilled. I want him to be safe, secure, respected for the person he is. I want him always to be loved and wanted. I want these things in accordance with his way of being in the world as well as from a neurotypical perspective.

For this to happen Andy will need support and understanding that is informed by an awareness and respect of autism. There would require to be multi dimensional change to respond to these needs fully. Governmental, societal, environmental, attitudinal, educational, financial changes all immediately spring to mind. It’s a massive amount of change that would be required but that doesn’t make it unattainable to a degree at least. Those of us affected directly will keep striving, keep pushing for progress, tempered by a reality that we all have needs and issues close to our hearts.

Twenty years from now I hope with all my heart that Andy is healthy and happy either still with his mum and dad (for it is only age and infirmity that will stop us looking after Andy) or nearby in a progressive and enlightened group home. A place where he is respected for who he is and his wishes and preferences are acknowledged. Where he is afforded the rights and opportunities that a civilised society should offer to those who are vulnerable. Where he is supported and encouraged to live a full life and shown the understanding and love that we strive to provide.

At this moment in time world events and attitudes worry me greatly. I hope for a better future for us all. If improvements for those who are vulnerable and needy begin to happen I believe we will be on the right road to a better future for us all.

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