As a kid, I always had a difficult time with challenges even before I was diagnosed with autism. Challenges are all over the place and can come in various forms, from big to small. As an autistic person, while change has gotten easier over time, it is still something that is difficult for me. One of my friends had told me “Change is the only constant in this world”. This is something that has stuck with me for the longest time. I am facing another challenge and with it comes change. Challenge accepted. I feel ready to accept this new change.
One of my friends had told me “Change is the only constant in this world”. Challenge accepted. I feel ready to accept this new change.
Up until now, my biggest challenge yet was moving across the state to the CA house. This was mainly because it meant being away from my family for the first time in my life. The prospect of changing your location can be frightening to anyone whether they want to admit it or not. The first time I can recall moving I had recently graduated high school. That move was to a neighborhood not too far from my old house. I was comfortable where I was and loved seeing the sights around the area. That first move wasn’t something I thought would happen. When we started looking around, I didn’t think the move was serious. After graduation, my parents found this house and fell in love with it. It was a lovely two-level house with more than enough space. I enjoyed the fact of being able to choose my room and start to decorate it. It seemed like that was where I would stay for a long time. But remember what my friend said, “Change is the only constant in this world”. I would soon face another challenge.
Another Challenge Accepted
The second move, about 2 years later, was when I ended up moving to Richmond, VA. I discussed this in a previous blog. Moving into a house with multiple people can be challenging, it has advantages as well as disadvantages. One advantage being that I got to have more people I could spend time with, which was helpful in that regard. Another advantage was being around other autistic people. That meant I had more people who understood who I was and what I needed help with. The disadvantage of moving in was that the circle of people who were already there had their circle set up and I had to figure out how to be a part of it without messing that up.
Before my dad and I went to see the house, he and my brother checked it out. We checked out a few other locations prior to settling on the adult programs facility in Richmond. When I arrived at the house in Richmond, I made an instant connection to my closest friend in Richmond thus far. We chatted about everything while my dad talked to the director of the program. When it was time for me to meet with the director, I didn’t want to leave this newfound friend. I went back and had a quick interview with the director who seemed like a decent person. That wasn’t as challenging as I thought it would be.
Before being accepted into the Residence at CA, I spent three nights at their facility to see if it was something I could see myself doing. This was initially intended as a long-term facility for people with autism. Those three nights were eventful and as much as I disliked being away from my family, I was surrounded by people who were willing to share with me their joys of Richmond and the sights and sounds with me. It was amazing and I wouldn’t change that for the world.
A couple of months later, I was celebrating with my family about the move to Richmond as they had accepted me into their program. Thinking about it gives me nostalgic memories which are joyous. The time I spent there was amazing and nothing short of unforgettable and interesting. I still have the pictures from then and I haven’t aged much in the time since my move in. I initially hated moving that far away from my parents and not knowing when I’d be able to see them. Since they were a couple of hours north, I stressed about when I would get to see them again. The challenges were there and muddled throughout. The distance was eased by the calls and eventually I learned how to live on my own without having to constantly rely on my parents.
Welcome to Paradise
I think of this one song by Green Day called “Welcome to Paradise” and now that I’ve moved out, I can hear the song resonating within me a bit more. The song is about a kid moving out for the first time and how they struggled with being away from home. But after a while, they are laughing about it and enjoy the change. At first, I was afraid of moving away and constantly called my mom or someone because it was scary and unfamiliar, and I didn’t like being away from them for so long. Now, I’m more at ease with where I am. And, every time I go visit, as much as I enjoy staying, I wouldn’t want to live there again.
Now that I have learned everything I can, I look forward to the next part of my journey. Sure, I am afraid of it but who isn’t? I’m seeking to move into an apartment soon and am curious how that will look. With a jump towards more independence, I can finally be at ease with myself and see the journey isn’t one that is a far one. Here’s hoping this next one is a road less traveled, and the path is rooted in adventure.
Author, Teal C. You can read more of her/their previous post here
CA Human Services is a statewide non-profit organization that advocates for, enables, and creates change for Virginians with developmental disabilities such as autism spectrum disorder. Our Adult Programs guide and coach individuals to navigate and transition smoothly from their family home to independent living such as an apartment, college dorm, or co-living situation.
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