When Your Child Becomes Independent

Published by Stephanie Wilson, Director of First Impressions

Ever wonder what it is like to see your child become more independent? I experienced this recently when my son started driving his vehicle.

My 20-year old son is on the autism spectrum. We had our doubts at first if he would be able to be self-sufficient. The school years were a struggle. It took both me and his father working together to get him through school. However, he was educated in a standard class environment with modifications and never was held back a grade. When he graduated from high school, we were extremely proud of his accomplishment!

At age 17, he landed his first job at Whataburger and worked there for over 2 years. He was named employee of the month right before he left there. He now works for HEB and has been there for almost a year. He enjoys the work and is a very dependable employee. He volunteers to cover other co-workers’ shifts when they are sick or otherwise unavailable.

In the first year and a half of his work life, he had to be driven to work as he was not ready to drive on his own. The day he drove to work himself was a red-letter day. He drove his dad’s truck and we were over the moon! We were so relieved that he could be self-reliant.

The next progression was learning how to drive his car which is a stick shift 1989 Ford Bronco II. His dad taught him over several weeks. The dedication he showed on accomplishing this task was heartwarming. Waving goodbye as he drove off to work in his vehicle was a fantastic feeling. However, it was a little frightening too. What if he got in an accident or got stuck somewhere? So far, my fears have been unfounded.

He is now very confident in his driving abilities. We knew that it would be hard for him to learn to drive, let alone drive a stick shift. He enjoys having his independence to drive whenever he needs to.

Having him have a stable job and driving his car has been thrilling and makes us so proud. He truly has become an independent young man.

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