Thursday, November 2, 2017

2 Years

We are quickly coming up on the 2-year anniversary of Tyler's transition into his residential home.  It absolutely blows my mind to think of everything that has changed in this 24-month period.  

I've learned that Tyler can indeed be a strong adult, regardless of my preconceived notions and ideas.  I learned that it was my own fear that was helping to hold him back from being everything he could be.  The comfort level that I was supposedly providing him was really the comfort level that I needed for myself.  But I couldn't see any of these things in the correct context until I stepped away from the eye of the storm.  It's amazing what can happen when you have the ability to step back and see things from a different vantage point.

When Tyler first moved into his new home, he struggled quite a bit.  He was used to having everything done for him almost entirely.  We had stopped trying to challenge his boundaries which caused him to rely on the comfort of our complacency.  Now we were asking him to throw all of that comfort away in one day.  It was quite a shock to his system.  Fortunately he found people that he liked.  He learned that his new home was safe, and dependable.  He found his inner strength.

Over the last two years we have continued to expand his boundaries.  He started going to our church.  He changed classroom instructors at his day program.  He has adjusted to us as "visitors" to his home rather than his primary caregivers.  Its not been overnight, and its not been a miracle cure.  He still has days where pushing his buttons is just a bad idea.  He still struggles with new situations.  BUT there have been a few tremendous breakthrough moments too.  He is tolerating blood tests and dental appointments better than he ever has!

The 2 years has also been a learning experience for me too.  I learned that caregiving had been the most rewarding thing I had ever done, while at the same time being the most damaging.  It wasn't something that I could switch off, but rather it was more of a tide that had to slowly recede.  It was like a light being turned on at the bar at 2am where you suddenly see how ugly the environment and people are around you.  It was much harder that I had ever imagined.

So here we are 2 years later.  Tyler continues to be happy with his staff and surroundings.  He is doing well in his day program, and getting the occasional trip to a restaurant, church, bowling, and other things that are happening around town.  Most importantly he is getting to hang with a roommate and staff that he likes and trusts.  He feels safe, secure, and I know we are all watching over him.

As for me, I've been able to adjust.  There are times that I miss having him so close to me, but I also understand that I wasn't helping him anymore.  Now that I am away from the eye of the autism storm, I could never survive again in that role.  I still love him with every fiber in my body, and I will always look out for him in whatever role I have in his life.  But I know that chapter in our lives is behind us.

I just hope someday we will be in a place where we can talk about all of these things.  So I can explain to him how much we love him and that everything we did was out of love for him. 

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