November 8, 2016

Growing Up with Aspergers

Homeschooling my son, who has Aspergers Syndrome (officially now called Autism Spectrum Disorder), has been a challenge for 5 years now.  As he nears twelve years old, my thoughts turn from the daily challenges of holding his attention, keeping him calm and getting through some school subjects to thoughts of the future.  I wonder how he will be as an independent adult, and how long it will take to get there.  It scares me some days.

All the professionals we have seen have said that homeschooling is the best option for him - that he would be more anxious in school, or that he would have a harder time focusing, or be "left behind" as his skill set is rather uneven, which is not unusual for people with ASD (or ADHD).  I keep this thought in my mind as we have yet another argument about why NOW it is time for a lesson, when he wants to lay on his bed with his cat or hide in his closet.  (Both of which are fine things that I encourage when he gets overwhelmed, but at some point, book learning needs to happen.)
Taking a math tests in one of his comfort spaces
With the hormones surging and the physical growth occurring at this age (preteen), many children struggle with anger and insecurities.  It is so hard to know how much of what he is going through it normal and how much is him going completely overboard due to his anxieties and different way of seeing the world.  How much of his attitude is to be expected, and how much is possible side effects of the latest food, supplement or medication he has taken?  There are so many unknowns.

With all his growing up going on, he is losing his interest in childhood things, like bringing neighborhood kids over to jump on the trampoline or play imaginative games.  He is isolating himself more AND losing out on good physical activities.  I have to ask him to get outside at all, and going on a walk is "pure torture", you know.  This video is of my son and the child I babysit regularly, having some indoor physical fun!

I am going to have to try and find more grown up ways to get his movement in so that he can better regulate his mood and behaviors.  Most boys get interested in being muscular in the teen years, right?  I'm hoping to harness some of that. :)  We are also looking into hosting service dogs (when they are puppies).  This should encourage more outside time for all of us, and some added responsibilities.  Besides...puppies!  They are so cute, one can't help but smile and improve a mood.

We are also now able to go consistently to talk therapy (cognitive behavioral therapy) and holistic sensory therapy, as they are both local to us now.  I'm really hoping this helps him through the rough days.  And then there are good days, like today, when he did school without drama and got to take a trip with Daddy where this happened:

As your boys with special needs have entered the next phase of childhood, what changes did you have to make?  If you homeschool, what extra challenges are you facing during this time?

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  1. Such a tender age, 12. I know that was when my G started changing in similar ways.

    For some reason, at 13, he just decided to try sports (I am NOT athletic!) and I think that has really really helped with his hormones and energy and social stuff. And we got a puppy! (So I think you are on the right track!)

    It's so hard when the social scene gets more complex and our kids get more isolated because of that and other reasons. SO HARD. And even thinking about the future...

    Great post,
    Thanks and love,
    Full Spectrum Mama

    1. He has always done soccer in spring and fall, and we added tennis last summer, which was a hit. I'm thinking more bowling with the family may be good for winter, too. Thanks!

  2. ((hugs)) The picture of your son doing his math test while in his little safe space made me smile. My little guy prefers to be wrapped up like a tortilla in a very soft blankie while giving narrations. As long as the learning is happening, I don't mind! :)

    1. We call it "being a burrito" :) and the heavier the blanket, the better for mine! The toddler I watch asks me to make him a "pickle", which is the same thing, but not sure where he came up with pickle, haha!

  3. OH I missed this post Laura, I just sat here nodding through the whole thing. As my guy approaches 13 we are asking all the same questions. Getting enough outside time is a challenge with his cold hives but we have a trapeze in the living room! Oh those hormone surges have been hard though...where did my little stop and smell the flowers little one go? Ah he is still there but the world is so much faster and there are so many more expectations. I love your son's nook, it is so hard to find a safe space that will not be commandeered by siblings around here! He just asked the other day if he could slide into an unused kitchen cupboard and I had said no...rethinking that now ha! We are just trying to remember that there is not a race to adulthood and 18 is not a magic number and just every day re-committing to supporting him in the challenges he faces growing up. It is never easy though is it? Hope the last month has been kind to you all!


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