Brandon’s last day of school was two days ago. He is still saying “no school” occasionally, but not nearly as much. Now we are hearing “day penguin” (program) and seeing the smile when he says it. And, of course, he wants to know when he is going to Cabelas.
Steve was quite moved looking at the picture with all the signatures of Brandon’s school village. He may have shed a tear or two. I couldn’t understand why he was so emotional about Brandon leaving school, so I asked him to tell me what he is feeling.
Steve feels like it is the end of an era for Brandon. And it is. The educational experience Brandon had was the best we knew to do for him. But it wasn’t only us. There were teachers, paras, therapists, friends, etc. All of those folks were so very important in getting Brandon to where he is today.
Steve’s thought was this….our village just got a lot smaller. We can’t just get new therapists to help with language development. Or a music therapist to help him navigate his world. Brandon responds so well to music and that resource is now gone. We are both so proud of how far Brandon has come, and all those people were involved with that. He has been receiving these therapies for 18 years.
Well meaning friends have suggested we look into our insurance company helping with someone else of the cost for continued therapy. I have done that. And it does not look promising. Insurance coverage for therapies for adults with autism is very limited. The psychiatrist appointments are covered. Medications are covered. Therapies are not.
Our insurance company will only pay for needed therapies if there is an projected end date. For the most part, the insurance company says that should be six months. Autism doesn’t stop when the individual leaves the safety of the school system. Brandon will have autism for the rest of his life. And he should be able to have affordable access to those therapies.
Brandon started using words to communicate when he was 6-7 years old and his vocabulary is still quite limited. A lot of therapy and support helped him develop more words and how to use them appropriately. We are hopeful that we don’t see a language regression, but we know that is a strong possibility.
So what do we do about that? All of us here at home will continue talking with Brandon and encouraging him to use his words to communicate with us. We know the folks at day program (staff and clients) will talk with him. I will review his IEP to see what the speech goals were and how I can continue some of that at home.
I have friends from college who are speech therapists. I will most likely reach out to them for support and guidance (get ready my KT friends!). I tried to assure Steve that while our village may be smaller right now, it will grow again. The folks in our village may change and those changes will continue throughout Brandon’s life.
We also talked about how brave Brandon is. He was ready to be done with school and start his adult life. Everyone gets nervous with starting something new. A new job, a new relationship, a new home, whatever the change may be. Someone with autism is no different.
Right now, however, Brandon is handling this newest change like a rock star!