Finally after all of these years she belongs. Since the time my daughter started kindergarten we could never find a program where she truly fit. Every program out there was either too high for her or too low. I often explain that when my daughter started school the special education classrooms were on one side of the hallway and the general education rooms were on the other. My daughter didn’t belong on either side, she was too high for one side and too low for the other side; she belonged somewhere in the middle. She was my “hallway” kid. Finally, at the age of 23, we’ve found a program for her, a program born out of the realization that there is a great need for those “hallway” kids, a program not too high, not too low, a program where she will finally fit in.
My daughter’s ability to speak is what I believe to be the greatest “criteria” that labels her “high functioning.” If it’s a topic that interests her, she can talk you under the table. It doesn’t matter if the information coming out of her mouth is credible or not, she can speak clearly, use whole sentences, and be very convincing. What you don’t notice at first sight however, are the hidden things, the things that move her to the other side of the hallway. The extreme struggle with transitions, the dire need for routines and predictability, the excessive amount of anxiety, and the struggle with the daily living skills that many of us take for granted.
As my daughter was getting close to turning 22 and that magic age when students become ineligible for special education services in the school system, we began looking for adult service programs she could transition to. Again we were faced with the realization that she really didn’t fit into any of the programs out there. They were either too high or too low. Eventually we compromised and decided on a program we thought would best suit her needs.
She never did get a chance to go to that program though. COVID decided that. With every program shut down she was forced to stay home. Nearly two years later she still remains home. My daughter is not the only one affected. There are hundreds of other young adults out there like her disrupted by COVID. Programs and services for her age group have been severely disrupted, more so than many realize. The extreme shortage of staff has caused a crisis for these folks. Two years is a long time to be at home.
That is about to change however, for my daughter, at least. She is about to become one of the lucky ones. Out of this COVID crisis a new type of post 22 program was created. Someone out there realized programs were needed for the “hallway kids” and they acted upon that realization to create a new type of program, a program not too high, not too low, but rather in the middle. Perhaps in the end we will be able to say the unexpected detour and long road COVID took us down led my daughter to the right destination. Finally, after all these years.