“You are just the person with whom I so want to connect. I have a now 27 year old son, Sean, on the Autism Spectrum, and like you, have been on a very long and winding road with this wonderfully special child of mine. I have long wanted to help put together a program for Moms and Dads who have done the Son-Rise Program with their children but who are no longer engaged in an organized Son-Rise Program. When Sean decided at age 15 that ‘he was done’ with his playroom after 5 years, I felt adrift and unsure where to go next.
“Then puberty hit and so began an extremely exhausting and fearful 3 years of trying to keep my son safe as he explored the world in a way that was challenging for everyone around him. Sean was taller, stronger, and younger than me. Tom, his older brother, moved out when Sean was 17. My husband, Paul, was killed in an accident just after we’d attended our first Start-Up Program when Sean was 12. So I was a mom in Scotland, completely on my own, and definitely felt very, very vulnerable and scared.
“Tom wanted his own life too, and I was happy he was becoming independent after often coming second because of his brother’s autism and needs.
“When Sean was 18, for both of our safety, I had to find a safe and kind environment for him. I could no longer cope. I desperately wanted us both to have great lives and I knew by keeping him at home, that would never happen.
“But where could I find a place that would cherish my boy? The northeast of Scotland didn’t have much for Sean. He thrived with male caregivers, but the oil industry here took all the young males offshore.
“I eventually googled ‘Adult Autism Residential Homes in Scotland’ and found Moorpark, an autism specialist person – centered village 3 hours away.
“I went to visit Moorpark hoping I’d hate it; it’s too far away, I yelled silently.
“But as it turned out, it’s brilliant. I have been so blessed to be involved with every step of the journey. I got to help interview Sean’s caregivers, all men, all different ages … and they adore Sean!
“Sean’s been at Moorpark 6 years next month, and although it was a bit rocky at the start, with Sean always wanting to go home, Moorpark stuck by Sean, accepting him, loving him.
“Today we both have incredible lives. I trained as an Option Process Mentor at the Option Institute, and Sean has taken up jogging and keeping fit. We see each other regularly at a trampoline center where Sean jumps and I drink tea. Never did I believe this could be our reality.
“But although it has been quite a ride, I can say I’ve made it through the other side emotionally and physically – thanks to the programs I’ve attended at the Autism Treatment Center of America.
“Since I’ve experienced my own ways of building strength, joy, and loving myself through this journey, I so want others to know there are ways to receive support and awareness as they take their next phase in the adventures that continue with their now-older children … and the process of letting go with love and having more answers for their futures.
“I believe, from my own experience, that Beyond the Playroom can help you do that. We’ve invested everything into our special children, but now it’s time for us too. We’re a unique group of post Son-Risers. There is life beyond the playroom! Let’s embrace this opportunity together.”
Love, Linda xx