“I have autism Mommy. That’s why I can’t listen.” This would have me laughing completely, but I am feeling very frustrated. As Michael utters these words, he is smiling. He knows very well that he is using the “autism excuse” to get away with something. He is smarter than even I thought, and I think my kid is pretty smart.
“No, Michael. Autism is not an excuse to not listen. Now what are you supposed to say and do?” He sighs and then the words come out.
“I’m sorry for not listening Mommy. I will clean up the mess.”
“Ok. I accept your apology. Now clean up this mess and you can go and play.”
He had made a mess with some food then tried to get out of cleaning it up. That was the excuse this time. Another time he had tried to use the autism excuse on something else. It was quite funny actually. However, this is presenting me with a problem I did not think we’d have this soon: Michael’s total awareness of his autism and how it makes him different. He first learned of his autism about a year ago. Sometimes he even uses it to make negative comments about other boys who are weird. They are neuro typical boys, and I think that Michael may not know how to articulate that he feels uncomfortable around them. He will only say things to me like “I want to be with my friends from school, not new kids.” The new kids are usually at church or parks or camp or other places. He has noticed over a year ago that he is different and does not know how to talk to these kids. We are working on demonstrating how to have a conversation. But is coming along slowly. Adults are easier to talk to. They give him time to answer back or let Michael talk on and on about what interests him. The smile and indulge him and are amazed by him. He is like a beacon of light to them. I see it in their faces when he talks. Kids his own age will either turn to me questioningly and walk away. It becomes challenging for all of us. They do not know what to make of him anymore than he of them.
Still this level of development is exciting to see. Michael is learning how to test boundaries, to express his likes/dislikes, and as usual, to throw curve balls my way. I am so proud of how far he has come, and though being sneaky is not something parents are traditionally proud of, well everything Michael does that shows me how aware he is points to me how far he has come. It’s like when he doesn’t want to talk about his day or have me kiss him. He is acting like a typical preteen or tween, and to that I say: Thank you God and God help me in the same breath! This is where my parenting has to get creative. He needs his autism supports, firm boundaries, but he also needs to navigate tween hood like any neuro typical child would. Most adults agree with me. My challenge is finding the right balance as his Mom.
Exceptional Parents, what kind of awareness do your Exceptional Children have? There is no wrong or right answer. They are all at their own level, and have their own strengths and weaknesses. Just remember to find the balance between their autism and their regular kid behaviors. Don’t let them use their autism as an excuse to escape responsibility and the world, but support them with strategies to be the best they can be. Until next time.
Are you looking to make changes in your special needs parenting life? Do you need support on your journey? I am a writer and parent coach who is passionate about empowering parents to trust their own instinct when raising their exceptional children with autism, and remembering that parenthood is as much a journey for us as childhood is for our children. For more information on my parent coaching programs, and to book a FREE 30 Minute Consultation Session, see my website: http://www.creatingexceptionalparenting.com.
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