A wide-ranging memoir and guide to autism in adulthood.
There is undoubtedly disagreement regarding the terminology used in conversations related to autism. “Person-first” language decreases the tendency toward defining people by their disabilities; thus, "autistic people" becomes "people with autism." Others prefer being called simply "autistic," arguing that they are in fact defined by their autism and should embrace it as a part of their personalities. Senator (The Autism Mom's Survival Guide (for Dads, too!), 2010, etc.) uses both terms, noting the importance of keeping everything on the table as a child moves through adolescence into adulthood. There are numerous books about caring for children with autism, but the resources about adulthood autism are not as common. The decisions become difficult in new ways: should the adult live with parents or in a residential support home? How do you address the feeling of abandonment, that you're essentially handing over control of his well-being to strangers, often underpaid and all too frequently willing to do the bare minimum to avoid losing their jobs? Senator doesn't attempt to completely untangle the laws, guidelines, and treatment options, but she uses her own story—the author’s son, Nat, has autism and has recently reached adulthood—to offer qualitative insights about navigating the social service systems. The author writes openly about a diverse variety of experiences—e.g., entrusting guardianship to a sibling in the case of a parent’s death; the common struggles of adulthood as experienced through the lens of autism; finding the best possible option for a place a child can call his own and doing so in a way that empowers him to be successful when he leaves the care of his parents.
The challenges are ongoing, and Senator is honest in acknowledging the limits of any insights one might glean from her son's story. That acknowledgement, however, serves the book in its shared solidarity, of reaching out to always ask questions. As an emotional resource, her book is excellent.