I know it’s been a while. I haven’t been in the mood to blog recently nor had the time but knew it was important to get one in during Autism Awareness month. Being an autism mom is a BIG part of my identity and I didn’t think it would be right to go all month without blogging once. So, get ready for a transparent post about my experience thus far as an autism mom with 11 years under my belt.
It has been a journey, to say the least…every time I feel like I got a handle on it, something just comes out of left field and takes me through a loop. Let’s start off with the good. Trey has come a loooooooooooong way! I mean a really long way. He is talking which he didn’t until he was 6. He can do some math, read, and can type or write full sentences. However, he is still socially and developmentally delayed. Trey is 11 but acts more like 6. He is VERY immature and doesn’t really do two way-communication and does inappropriate things like laughing at serious situations, humping, and playing with his privates in public. Yes, he is now entering puberty, so these things are going to come up. Just this past Friday, I got a note from the teacher about this type of behavior in the classroom. We (my husband and I) decided that due to the severity of his actions, we would put him on punishment this weekend which consisted of no electronics. Devices are his thing, so he has been forced to do things he normally doesn’t such as play with his keyboard or read books. We did this to reinforce the lesson that these types of behaviors are not appropriate or acceptable and we reiterate to him every chance we get why he can’t use his phone or laptop. Autism requires lots of repetition but in short phrases or sentences so that they can process and retain what is being said. Trey is well aware about why he is on punishment as evidenced by him hiding his face or turning away in shame when we address his behavior. Despite Trey being autistic, he does know the difference between right and wrong.
Trey, although fully aware of the wrongness of his actions, has a tough time making the right choice when we are not around. We have decided that to address this issue, we are going to give him more freedom. You might be feeling that this should be the opposite of what we should do. Let me explain further. Trey is coming of age. He is now less than 7 years from 18 and I will probably seek guardianship before he becomes an adult. However, Trey needs to learn how to independently make good choices for himself without us always telling him what to do. We need to allow him the opportunity to safely make the wrong choice with us watching him deal with the consequences from a distance. Now of course we wouldn’t let him do anything dangerous but here is our plan: starting this summer, we are going to allow him to take on more responsibility such as preparing his own food, washing his clothes, and putting them away, taking care of his hygiene, etc. Basically, his daily living skills. If he decides to do something playful like put too much seasoning in his food to be funny or not wash himself correctly, he will have to deal with what you call natural consequences. When met with natural consequences for his poor choices, he will hopefully learn to make different decisions. I feel that by allowing him to have some independence, we are preparing him for adulthood. We don’t want Trey to be too dependent on us or his brother as an adult because if we were to pass away unexpectedly, we would not want him to be a burden to his little brother. We also want him to live a full life that involves him pursuing his own passion and independently doing some things for himself. A sense of autonomy is what gives people a feeling of accomplishment and general life satisfaction. We want Trey to have the opportunity to be all he can be with us safely watching him grow and develop into that from a distance.
I’m not a young parent and neither is my husband. There will come a time when we are unable to care for Trey because of our old age and deteriorating health. Unless you come from a big and supportive family that can step in when you can’t, you have to give your autistic child a chance and opportunity to become the person they are meant to be, which may not be what you had imagined. Now of course there are varying degrees of autism so if they are severely autistic, you may not be able to give much freedom. But I believe that to some degree or level, all children despite their disability, can learn to achieve something on their own without their parents or caregiver always hovering over them. Imagine if you spent your whole life with a hovering parent or caregiver and how nerve wracking and disabling that would be because you never felt confident to make a decision for yourself. Everyone deserves the opportunity to make a choice, even if it is as small as picking what they want to eat off a menu or deciding what shirt they want to wear that day.
Anyway, I hope you found something informative or enlightening about this blog. I am big on takeaways so comment below about what you took away from this post. If there is an area that you want me to cover that I did not, comment below. I am open to feedback and serving my audience the best way I can.
Take good care!