How can you be honest when it breaks your heart?
Today, I hesitate. There is a multi-page assessment sitting in front me waiting to be filled out. Within the pages are questions about my autistic son’s abilities, whose 18th birthday is only a few short months away. The questions range from communication skills, self-care to leisure. All 300 of them must be answered honestly. His future depends on it.
Honestly. That word has never seemed as big or scary to me, as it does right now.
While handing me the assessment, my son’s case worker stressed, “I need you to answer these honestly; meaning only mark down what he is proficient at today, not what he did a couple of times two months ago. So, from the time he wakes up to the time he goes to bed, these answers must reflect what he can do on his own without prompting.”
With tears welling up in my eyes, I lowered my head and sighed deeply. “That would probably just be…waking up.”
I’ll admit, that’s a terrible statement to make, but it’s the truth. The painful truth, that each day for the past 17 years I have tried to keep from consuming my mind.
Sure, he doesn’t get angry. He doesn’t mistreat people’s belongings. He is responsible. Those questions, he will score high on. However, the others – the skills that are essential for success and independent living – such as communication, social skills, self-care, and self-direction will score low, quite low in fact.
As much as I don’t like to admit it, that is the honest truth.
It’s nearly impossible to make me cry, but any meeting that pertains to my son gets me every time. It is so incredibly difficult and saddening to be honest about my son’s many weaknesses, when all I want to do is tell the world how amazing he is. He is amazing. Just not on paper.
So, with a deep breath I will complete that assessment. I will cry and I will keep going, just like I always have. And he…he will be just fine.