With my decades of direct support with individuals who have Autism I have noticed a few commonalities with social skills modeling and maintaining positive healthy friendships. Mentorship and role models are incredibly important for adults with ASD. There are many ways that you can make sure that this invaluable resource is available to your adult children, and it is never too early to start.
As we all know society is ever-changing. What we, as educators and parents have feared for our adult children years ago is pretty much the same now but with even more dangers. We live in constant fear of bullying online and making positive friendships both at work and volunteering in the community. Even the city bus is a fear of uneasiness. “What if’s” are in our minds constantly.
The goals I have tried to teach families are to have a buddy system and to gradually fade out.
I work and have always worked with Youths in Transition. As a support team we search out an appropriate buddy for each individual long term and then begin to fade out. Most times we have to pay individuals to be a friend or advocate for our children. It’s just a fact of life. Your adult child is like anyone else. For a friendship to develop we need consistency, time, and a sense of safety.
Example: When you walk into a new job you have probably just met someone in HR. You have not met your new co-workers and you’re just learning what your role and duties are. This time of acclimation is a process, and for most it takes a while to get comfortable.
This is the same food for thought when moving from home to your own apartment with a roommate. Backgrounds are different, family dynamics are different, and individuals process differently. As a paid employee/advocate/mother I have had the time to experience all of this first hand.
I know in my heart that we still have good people in this world to assist in role modeling positive friendships. These role models can help develop coping skills for each adult to get out in the real world and be safe and fulfilled with all life has to offer. There are many different programs that exist to help match youth and young adults with mentors. See if you may qualify for Big Brothers Big Sisters of America, look up local Meetups for ASD in your area or check out www.mentoring.org to find possible mentoring programs near you.
It may not be at our pace but I believe we all progress at a different rate and that is completely ok.
As parents we also need to trust our children and role model appropriate positive relationships at a young age. We start and we never give up.
My hope is that after reading my blog we take the time to be a buddy and advocate for our own children, or seek out someone who can share this important task. This way we carve out precious moments to hang out and also be your adult child’s very best friend.
For more information on this subject please contact me at Raeme.Bosquez-Greer@southwindfields.com
by Raeme Bosquez-Greer
Southwind Fields Program Director