There is an exceptional teen in the house! It became official at the end of December, and though Michael started showing early signs of being in puberty at 11, it has been an even more intense ride in the last year. As he has slowly started pushing away towards more independence, the desire for approval, attention, connection and time spent together talking has also intensified and on some days, even increased. I am both glad and a little overwhelmed by this at times, but happy that Michael does still want to connect and tell me things. I know this is the age, for any kid, when they start pushing away from parents. Don’t get me wrong. I hear daily that he does not love me. He likes me. Love is reserved for girls he has crushes on. No matter how many times I or Dad has told him there are lots of kinds of love, he will move back to romantic love. I get it. He’s experimenting with different ways of relating, and well, Mom is good for bouncing ideas off on, taking me places and chatting, but hey, I don’t love her like when I was a baby.
The thing is though that other things I did not think would be important for Michael now are-fitting in with friends, watching ‘cool’ videos, going out places alone as he does not want to be seen with his Mommy. It’s heartwarming and interesting to see Michael modeling what all teens want. As I’ve said before, I did not know if Michael would be like neuro typical peers in this way. In others, due to his neuro diverse brain and view of the world, things need to be explained and outlined in more detail. He will still need to be reminded what comes next in a schedule or verbally. He also has a hard time hearing no, like when he was a small child. I simply remind him that it’s ok to become angry and be frustrated, but accepting what we can’t change is all part of growing up and maturing, and all of this have to deal with it, neuro typical and neuro diverse alike.
I know the world is harder on him. It’s harder for him to get things. Reading faces, emotions is still a challenge. But I have to be careful how I phrase things. I’ve heard him say so many times, “I don’t have to do things like this, I have austim and adhd. I can’t listen the way you want because I have autism and adhd.” Though I’m glad I told him the reason things are challenging, in the last two years especially, I have turned this way of making excuses into a way to better understand himself and NOT use his different brain as an excuse to get his way in everything. I have told him I want you to express all emotions, but you can’t lose control and get upset because you don’t get your way. All of us, neuro typical and neuro diverse, have to handle emotions, use strategies to cope with stress, and learn from mistakes. As a nurse in the ER told Michael when he was hospitalized while in ketoacidosis and was slowly recovering,”work with me Michael.” I tell him that every day now. I can’t help you unless you work with me, and tell me what you need. He has started believing me and listening as he did to the nurse that day.
Exceptional Parents, how are you surviving your teen or any other challenging age with your Exceptional Child? As long as you are honest about what they and you can handle, you will be well on your way to helping them grow into healthy human beings. Until next time.