I have often been asked what I have planned for my son’s future. I always smile and reply “He wants to be a farmer..”
Most of the time people smile in return ..
But sometimes there is an awkward silence and the inevitable.. “Do you really think he will be able to work? To hold down a real job?”
Yes I do!
And no I am not offended by this question..
You see? While my son has Autism (and a splash of bipolar).. His disabilities don’t own him. Simon is his own person and he knows what he wants.. He has known since he was 4.
You may think Simon grew up in a farming community and THAT is why he wants to be a farmer. That he knows no difference.. Well THERE you would be mistaken. Our Simon grew up in a city from age 3 to 13..
Yup his love for farming seems to have been destined for him.
So what did his father and I do? Well? We moved to a farming community back home in Michigan.
Most people question our Sy’s ability to hold down a job because of his behaviors at school.. Freezing in doorways, anxiety over homework, refusals to take tests at times.. And wanting to go home.
But you see? At school?
At school, Simon knows he is behind his peers.. School work is hard… He doesn’t understand test questions because of the wording.. And sometimes (even IF he did understand them) he doesn’t know what they are asking.. He KNOWS he is built inadequate for school..
Yet you will see Simon get up every day and force himself to try to go to school. He can be close to tears in frustration over homework.. And yet he is one to INSIST he finish.. He pushes through anxiety, confusion and what ever distractions are around him (or distractions going on in his own head) to SUCCESS on the other side.
That sounds like a job to me…
At home, Simon is different. At home he is confident, creative, helpful.. He washes his own laundry, washes dishes, cooks whole meals, cleans the house, does chores, builds with his dad..
He does an amazing job!!
Not “pretty amazing” for a kid with autism..
JUST pretty amazing for a 17 year old.. Because he does it exactly the way I do.. (Or the way his dad does).. Exactly the way he was taught..
Then? Then he adds a slash of creativity.
This week, I woke my son to face another hard day at school. As I rubbed his back and talked about his day.. I told him I was going to teach him to drive our lawn mower after school.
He sat straight up in bed and wiped the sleep from his eyes. “What did you say?”
Smiling, I repeated that I thought he was old enough to learn to drive the lawn tractor to mow the lawn.
The smile on his face made my heart happy..
He quickly got ready for his day.. Was still a little grumpy with his sister.. But went to school easily..
AFTER school? Well after school he quickly changed into his farmer hat and overalls, his John Deere shirt with long sleeves and farmer boots..
And our lessons began..
I admit I get nervous with vehicles.. The same nervousness I got when I taught my daughter to drive ..
I ran from one side of the lawn mower to the other .. Pointing out how FAR the mower deck sticks out.. How to slow down.. How to stop.. How to speed up a little.. How to crank the wheel so you don’t crash..
The first 5 mins were nerve racking for me.. Because he learns best by doing.. So at a snail’s pace and yelling over the motor and earplugs.. I gave him on-the-go lessons..
And then he was off.. One circle around the yard and I moved the mower one notch faster.. He watched how I did that too…
He looked for cars when he circled up into the road.. Kept the mower in a straight line.. He mowed next to the first stripe perfectly (or circled back to fix it.. Mowed around baby trees and big trees.. Power poles and ditches..
By the 3rd circle of the yard, I stopped following him.. He no longer needed me.
After 4 hours? He was up to full speed (by his own choice) and the yard was flawless..
Not “pretty good” for a boy with autism..
Not “pretty good” for his first time..
It was pretty awesome.. No missed spots.. Straight lines..
In fact? My husband said he had to weed whack far less than when I mow..
I am not offended by that.. Just really proud..
But I am not surprised.. He always throws himself into his work.. And doesn’t stop until the work is done.. And done well..
We could use more workers like that in the world..
So YES… I think Simon will keep a job and support himself..
And yes, he will need support to start new adventures and to get through difficult situations.. Like doctor offices.. paperwork.. And paying bills..
But he will make it.. And it’s going to be amazing..
Not amazing for a kid with Autism..
Just plain amazing ..
But you don’t have to take my word for it.. Stick around ..
…wait and you will see it for yourself..