New year, new hope
Most of us like getting gifts; most of us have unwrapped at least one in this festive month. But I’ll venture that the best gift people in dire circumstances could get, other than having all their problems magically disappear, is hope – new hope for better times ahead, based on real happenings that make it more than wishful thinking.
From the things I’ve learned while maintaining this blog, it seems to me that real hope is out there for our atypical young people:
Researchers continue to make connections and discoveries;
Therapists are working inside and outside the box to help their clients manage life’s challenges;
Improved financial support mechanisms, like ABLE accounts, are becoming a reality;
Many educators are committed to guiding atypical students through the learning process;
Families can access online resources and in-person support groups;
The damage that bullying can cause is increasingly recognized;
Innovative programs for housing, higher education, and employment are popping up; and
Media coverage is increasing – for instance, here’s one hour of the Diane Rehm Show on NPR devoted to supports for young people on the autism spectrum.
With all of this, the stigma is starting to diminish, ever so slightly. It’s encouraging to read and hear more about (for instance) the visual strengths of people on the spectrum, the innovative thinking of those with ADHD, or the creativity of many who have emotional challenges.
While much remains to be done, and we’re still a long way from the ideal, it is heartening to see the issues increasingly addressed and reframed. In words and actions, there’s real reason for hope.
Our family has new reasons for hope too. Nathan, who a few years ago was so down on himself and so bitter about society’s failings that he was ready to end his life, this year has willingly filled out applications for part-time work. Not only that, but he is gently prodding me to help him find more places to apply. Meanwhile, Alan had several “aha” moments this year that have led to a more mature outlook. He is less of a victim with problems someone else should fix, and more of a “I’m responsible for my efforts and choices” kind of guy.
When I started this blog about four years ago, I really didn’t expect to write a paragraph like the one above, ever.
Readers, I hope that over time you’ve found some useful knowledge and hope in the paragraphs of this blog. May your gift in the new year be new hope at a personal level. And may we all see positive changes for the broader community of neurodiverse young people.