I cried when I got back to the car. I almost didn’t make it there before the crying overtook me. For the first time in I don’t know how long, I’d talked to someone who actually has the resources to help my son. It was the first time I met someone who had a road map that could take us from where we are to a future where my son is in control of his own life. Some of the tears were relief. Some were just because hope hurts. It hurts because of how often I’ve had my hopes crumble apart. Crumbled hopes are a natural side effect of trial and error. They become sharp and painful when time feels important and the stakes are emotionally high. I’m steal healing from my prior encounters with hope shards.
The meeting was with Vocational Rehabilitation. It turns out that there is an entire governmental department whose mandate is to help people reach independent adulthood. It turns out that they can start helping at age 14, which would have been nice to know three years ago. We have a slow paperwork process ahead of us, but beyond it is vocational diagnosis, social skills classes, and job coaching. We’ll have a case worker who is focused on helping my son pick a type of job, get the education for it, and apply. This is the guidance that I prayed for last September. Or I hope it is. I’m ready to walk out across the shiny hope, trusting that it won’t turn to shards beneath my feet.
It never occurred to me that vocational rehab could apply to my family. What we deal with is subtle, only noticeable when the troubles accumulate. But the counselor says that auditory processing disorder and ADHD are valid reasons to apply. So we have an application and an intake appointment. I expect the process to be slow and paperwork heavy, but I’m happy to put up with that if it gives my son a map and a guide for becoming an adult.