Turning 18 in 2 weeks; so what?
By: Melissa Archer/
For my other 4 girls, all typical kids, turning 18 meant so many things: beginning of adulthood, freedom from parents, four years of college fun, joining the work force, MOVING away from home! Yet for Jazz, it means mom and dad sit before a judge who’ll grant us guardianship of her and her entire life’s being. She will never move far from us, if she ever does get away, for her protection is the number one reason for my sleepless nights. No college is suited for her, nor work environment adaptable enough to allow her OCD-driven tendencies. It’s not a shocker.
We knew this day was coming. Way back at 16, which should have meant driving, dating, formal dances, and staying out till midnight. Perhaps a blow-out birthday party with “friends” which has only happened with a bit of success one time in her life. And while I detest whiners, not wanting to be “one of those moms” who whimper about the lot life has given them, I have a confession to make. I’m not the rock solid, strong, calm persona that I pretend to be when I leave the safety of these four walls we call home. My petite frame reminds me that I cannot carry this load many days and ending them with a heavy pour of red wine is most certainly not the wisest of choices. Though I am far from an alcoholic, not even Makers and Coca Cola will fix the really bad days. Exercise. Working out? What used to be an acceptable release has fallen off to merely a brisk walk when the world, weather, and time allows. Unlike my much younger, stronger husband, I no longer pound the gym, lifting twice my body weight in squats. I feel betrayed by this old set of bones that has jumped ship with so many years still to go and so very much left to do. Can I attribute it just to stress and age? Is it possibly the constant, never-ending, ridiculous battle I wage to try to shape a better place for my daughter with autism and all of those who shall follow in a society where “different” means “less than”? I am an oil-soaked pine in an out-of-control fire. I never stop praying for the winds to die down, hoping someone will beat the bushes, tormented by the flames that lick the ground around me.
Which brings me back to my darling girl who in just 14 days becomes an adult. I long for a day when Jasmynn, with all of her uniqueness or complexities, will be accepted for who she is. Nobody will tell her to use her “inside voice” or not to “squawk” because “her friends” are trying to learn and the noise “hurts their ears”. Or a well-meaning helper forces her to push her chair in closer to the cafeteria table when none of the visible other 150 students are told to do so. When she may scream “NO” at the top of her lungs at the rigidity of the rules which so many are breaking but because she is beneath a microscopic lens, she is constantly reprimanded for. I dream of a better day when the things she utters are truly heard and celebrated rather than bypassed as garbled sounds. I long for the day when her words come pouring forth. She doesn’t have to say “I love you” because that is a given (we are the ones who feed her peanut butter cups when she is ravenous for chocolate). We are the ones who tell her a thousand times a day, “You are GOOD. You are SPECTACTULAR. You are PERFECTION as God intended.” Is it bad to expect any one else to tell her the same thing and truly mean it? As I can’t change the world, I will settle for the gift I know she is as each night she says, “Mom is brave. Mom is not afraid. Mom will keep you safe.” I try to convince her in my most believable voice that she is correct. “That’s right, my darling.” I may have to add Actress to my list of careers.
If you would like to read more about Melissa Archer and Jasmynn you can follow them on their blog Page at
You can also learn more about Jasmynn’s Voice by visiting their website at
Melissa Archer is a retired English teacher, and mom to 5 girls (ages 40-16). Melissa worked at Lenawee P.R.E.P. for 7 years with the teen moms. She is now the President and co-founder of Jasmynn’s Voice, a 501c3 which has been gifting iPads/otterbox cases/ AAC apps to those struggling with language delays due to Autism since they began it in 2012.by