Recently, someone (in the context of asking how Son the Younger was doing) remarked, “I guess it’s not exactly two steps forward, one step back, huh?”
“Nope,” I said. “It’s kind of a daily potluck.”
Autism manifests in diverse ways, of course, for each individual. I thought I’d share here how things are going for us in our Autistic Life. 🙂
It’s October, which means the days are growing shorter. It has seemed to me, since we relocated to Maryland in 2011, that Son the Younger has been experiencing Seasonal Affective Disorder. Combine this with his usual anxiety and oppositional issues that are with us due to autism, and you can imagine how this is not the season I look forward to every year.
[Though, I do confess to enjoying fall very much since we came here!]
Son the Younger is twelve and will be a teenager before the year is out. This makes him quite happy to consider. He researched puberty in books — though he isn’t too keen on discussing it with an actual person — so changes are not taking him by surprise.
Regarding school, I have had to go against what is my grain and lessen my stresses over academics. My son is well capable of learning a great deal on his own, certainly, but he often doesn’t seem to be learning a great deal in class that is of an academic nature. However, as I have been reminded, a great deal of his current education isn’t about Social Studies or Writing. It’s about learning to be thirteen in a way that is right for him, learning to interact with his peers, and taking steps to grow outside of the admittedly sheltered home environment.
These are huge things. And they require learning. And he can’t find out about them on YouTube or even from me. So he is learning. Slowly.
Medication still plays a significant role in his daily life. We have meds in the morning and meds at bedtime. And now with the season changing as mentioned above, we are adding Vitamin D and a sun lamp, as these are common ways to combat Seasonal Affective Disorder. I am not sure how effective these treatments are for a young man with autism, but they certainly aren’t doing him any harm.
He is taking on new chores at home, and earns money doing them. Earning money is a huge positive, and he enjoys having buying power of his own. He even asks for jobs to do to earn a certain amount, because he has his eye on things he’d like to have. I see this as very practical and concrete in terms of his growth and development.
Being contrary is still very much a part of his nature, as it has been from his birth. If I say, “Oh, look, that car turned left!” He’ll counter with, “No! I thought it was going to go right! Stupid driver!”
He has no actual investment in this exchange other than to contradict what I said. This happens all the time and he can’t seem to help it. I do remind him, however, that he had no actual expectations thirty seconds before the event occurred. This stymies him.
Son the Younger continues in great affection in many aspects of his life. He likes to be helpful, he loves to hear he is loved and to tell others they are loved (family members). He is pretty proficient at meeting people with common greetings and handshakes. We have time for snuggling, time for extending our imaginations together, and times where we go floorplan shopping and other such adventures online.
Some days, it’s a pot luck whether he’ll hate me because I’m making him do his homework or run out of class because he doesn’t want to watch a movie. Other days, he’s nothing but complimentary and filled with anticipation before the school day.
Autism, indeed, looks a lot like Normal Twelve-Year-Old Boy. Some days. And when it doesn’t…well…I take a breath, say a prayer, and stand tall. Because at the end of every day, Son the Younger needs to know I am still strong enough to pick him up if he needs it, hold him tight when required, and determined not to let him get away with acting badly.
He also needs to know his family knows he’s got a terrific sense of humor and a fantastic brain. His vocabulary delights his teachers and he has goals and plans for the future, as well as a rotating series of hobbies in the present. Just now, he’s all into trains again. His memory for detail is vast, once we construct ways for his recollections to be shared.
I am thankful that he is exactly who he is. Every day. Even when I am Mom the Sea Wall, standing against the waves he rolls my way. I look forward to seeing what the teens bring to him and to our family.
And that’s the world from my keyboard here in October of 2014.