He talked about the introduction of articulated buses in Europe in the 1950s, their manufacture in the United States in the 1980s, and how these buses are similar or different from the modern buses.
He was so happy that I was interested with what he knew. He answered any follow-up question I asked him. His eyes lit with joy when he sensed that I was intently listening.
My eyes were misty when he finished talking. The chuckles, the obsession with a certain topic, his very sharp memory, and the way his eyes wander – they were so familiar to me.
I looked sideways toward the bus’ window while the young man finished the soda on his right hand. A question popped on my head and I couldn’t shake it off: Will my youngest be like him in the future?
The anguish from the uncertainty of my youngest future visits me once in a while. And in that bus one morning, in front of this fine, young man, it did.
What would happen to him when my husband and I are gone? How would he live? How would he provide for himself?
This stack of questions would visit me as well once in a while. And in that bus one morning, they visited in full force conjuring with anguish.
I wiped my tears and looked for my phone and searched for employment opportunities for individuals with autism.
In September of last year, the U.S. Department of Labor published a Final Rule that made changes to the regulations implementing Section 503 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. The new regulations established a nationwide 7 percent utilization goal for qualified individuals with disabilities (IWDs) improving their chances of securing a job.
There were also non-profits, like Ken’s Krew, which provide vocational training and job placement services to individuals with developmental disabilities.
In partnership with some establishments, Ken's Krew was able to operate in 5 states and assisted over 330 individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Among the partners were Home Depot stores, CVS Caremark, Fairway Market, Outback Steakhouse and Wegmans.
As imperfect as it is, the country remains to be one of the best places for the differently-abled. And I am thankful that my son is growing up in an accepting and supportive environment.
Information like this provides temporary relief, but not the assurance that I will not be visited by anguish again.
Anguish comes and goes. I have learned to vanquish it, but not how to vanish it. And like autism spectrum disorders (ASD), like my son’s genetic make-up, like the personality he’s born with, it’s here to stay.
After letting out a big, heavy sigh, that familiar voice from within whispered:
“For I am about to do something new.
See, I have already begun!
Do you not see it?
I will make a pathway through the wilderness.
I will create rivers in the dry wasteland.”
And like the thunder that came in the midst of the night, it woke up the warrior spirit ready to slay the anguish that beckoned me.
Yes, wilderness and wasteland bring uncertainties, but God’s promises bring assurance that goes beyond employment opportunity.
It is an assurance wrapped in joy, hope, and peace. It is a comprehensive insurance that provides coverage for anguish, despair, and hopelessness. And in that bus one morning, I received mine. And I am keeping it forever.
I got off the bus saying words of prayer for the fine, young man. He smiled and gently waved his hand as I walked toward the bus’ main door.
I glanced at him once more, and once again, in those sparkling eyes, I saw my little man smiling. And I smiled back.
Photo Credit: Pmattes
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