Since the day my son, Ben, was diagnosed with autism, and PDD (Pervasive Developmental Disability) at age 18 months, I knew my life and his would never be the same. At that moment, I was committed to learn how to provide the best care and future possible for him.
But before I could act…I had to mourn. Mourn the loss of my hopes and dreams for me and my son and I sank into a deep depression. Then, one day my father called me and told me that he had met some people from Happiness House during a golf tournament…and urged me to call them. I did. And With their compassion and guidance on how to manage my new life, the school system, and dedicated caregivers, we overcame many obstacles and challenges
We had hope, purpose and a meaningful routine to our everyday life. Ben is now 17 years old and I find we are approaching a new reality, with more challenges. Simply put, he is, like others his age, approaching the stage of “aging out” of the school system. When Ben turns 21 there are limited places for him to go for housing, training, recreation or socialization. Basically…Ben and individuals like him, will have no school community to continue working on a purposeful future; yet they will still need daily supervision and still deserving of an opportunity to live a meaningful life.
As Ben is aging, so am I. Recently retired from owning and managing a small manufacturing business, I thought I was where one should be at 60+…in my “golden years”.
But retirement left me without a routine, without a meaningful purpose and without the daily camaraderie that I became so used to! If this is how I’m feeling…how will my son handle the abrupt stop of his school routine and the socialization that comes with it at age 21?
Suddenly I had my “aha moment” and found a way for both Ben and I to continue to lead a meaningful life. I would start a new company!
I created a company, BenOfficial Goods ( 501 (c) 3…application pending) where any special needs individual who has a desire to work can get a job. A company where they can build new relationships, have a routine, collect a paycheck, do meaningful work, and get a a sense of belonging and purpose, in a safe, loving and supervised environment. As fulfilling as school…because they again have a community to depend on, and see how working together achieves results. They are forming a team and excited about the outcome.