During the month of March, CA Adolescent and Adult Programs hosted a parent support group and educational training for parents and adults on “launching with love.” Both groups were hosted by our LCSW coach Erin Delp and facilitated wonderful discussion and sharing of personal experiences. Most of our attendees were parents of transition-age adolescent and adults on the spectrum ages 15 to 40. A common theme voiced from parents in our discussions centered around finding safe ways to stretch when transitioning into adulthood and increasing autonomy.
What we mean by “finding safe ways to stretch” is…
- Providing room for failure to learn from mistakes
- Deciding limits around risk taking and making mistakes
- When to defer to resources and supports
Shared fears and anxieties
Parents shared fears and anxieties around allowing their adult children to learn from their mistakes, and sharing how far they (both adult child and supportive party) have come in progress and the risk of backsliding being too much to handle. They expressed wanting to provide the space for their adults to learn but also wanting to protect their adults from confidence-crushing failure. This is no doubt a delicate dance to act out when supporting your neurodiverse adult in embracing autonomy. How can a parent know when it safe to allow for significant risk of failure, especially considering parent-child nurturing and supportive dynamic?… and considering their history of advocating, problem-solving, and troubleshooting on behalf of their adult child?
Within our education/support groups and in working with client families within our coaching model, CA Adolescent and Adult Programs takes a family-centered approached to not only support the adult with skill building, but also to support the family in their approach to “launching with love.” We encourage families to keep in mind that their adult cannot gain confidence without the space to learn and master new skills. If we are always doing for them out of fear of failure, our transition-age adult will not be able to confidently do for themselves. Our model encourages boundary setting from the parent-role while reminding parents that their adult is never alone. CA practices “interdependence” while embracing increasing autonomy. As mentioned, our adults will never be completely alone without any support system at all. We all have our networks of family members, service providers, and emotional support systems as we are all interdependent. The idea of transitioning into adulthood is for the adult is rely more on themselves for skills and problem-solving, embracing autonomy, while knowing when and how to reach out to their network of support.
So when it comes to finding safe ways to stretch in regard to learning from mistakes… CA Adolescent and Adult Programs encourages families to set boundaries in intervening and to allow for other supports and resources in their adult’s network of support to facilitate skills building and learning. That’s where we come in!
CA is here if you need assistance with information or resources for supporting yourself or loved one with autism. Simply call our toll-free number 800-649-8481, send us an email, or search our resources for autism related services throughout Virginia.
If you’d like to support the work we do, consider donating to our Invest in Independence fundraiser, volunteering with us, or subscribing to our newsletter.