Last summer, for the very first time, my son was bored. Yes, he was bored being here alone all summer and we rejoiced! If you know anything about autism, you know that most people with autism typically love their alone time. In fact, they relish in it, and usually don't feel the slightest need to include anyone else. But, Sam has grown so much emotionally and developmentally, and finally was feeling bored and alone. Yay. So, I told him we'd work towards finding him something to do for the summer this year.
Thus, started the odyssey of seeking out organizations that might help us achieve this goal. I called a state organization with offices throughout northwest Georgia and was put in touch with their developmental disabilities unit. I spoke with a kind woman who, in 15 minutes time, gave me an education about what it will take to receive services for Sam. Firstly, he does not even qualify for their services until he is out of the school program, which won't be until the spring of 2014. Secondly, he still won't qualify if he does not have a Medicaid Waiver. I was very naive about such things and thought that these things were income based, and hence never even looked into applying for Sam. Seems that if you do not have one, you are not eligible for much of anything once you are 22 and out of school. But, the kicker is that there are only so many funds and there is apparently a long waiting list. I downloaded the forms to fill out and will gather all the needed documentation to send along with it, but was told we'd initially be denied. "Just expect it," I was told. Then, keep applying. Seems we need the GA NOW Waiver which is the particular waiver for individuals who need support services for vocational/employment training, transportation, and living arrangements.
In the meantime as I recovered from looking like the proverbial deer in the headlights, I was still needing to find something for him to do for the summer. After all, I promised him, and I was determined to come through. So, I had a discussion with the head of the program where he is now, and we decided they could start taking Sam to the local public library to volunteer each week. That way, the school could be our "foot in the door" and the people at the library could get to know Sam while he has support there to assist him in learning what his responsibilities will be. We filled out an application to be a volunteer, and after his first day there on Thursday of this week, the assistant director happily told him, "We're looking forward to your being here with us this summer, Sam." (Insert me doing happy dance here.) Then, there is the issue of transportation. Well, our county does have a state funded bus program that will pick people up and take them places and bring them back home. When I mentioned this to the head of Sam's program, he said, "Oh, sure, they've helped us out on a number of occasions and I'll contact them towards the end of this semester and have them be the ones to transport Sam from school to the library and back. That way, they will get to know him, and he'll get experience riding the bus." (Insert another happy dance here.)
I've often said that throughout this journey, I've learned not to stress about things, because God always seems to see that things work out. So, the summer at least is taken care of, and now, I'd best get to digging for the documentation to send to the state. But hey, I know that will work out too. It always does, after all, this is a journey through grace.