Not sure if this should be a Rant or Rave actually, but on September 5, my son Christian turns 13. I have both good and bad feelings about this milestone. I have to deal with the fact that I am now the parent of a teenager and the new challenges that come with having a teenager, specifically puberty.
Puberty is enough to deal with when raising teenager who isn’t autistic; but how do you explain certain issues of this matter to someone who is biologically 13 yet has the mind of a five-year-old?
Christian is still interested in Winnie the Pooh, The Wiggles and Spongebob; however, he is also discovering certain parts of his body as well as finding girls more interesting to look at. However, I don’t think they would be interested in him “that way”. I don’t think we have to worry about girlfriends calling the house and I really don’t think we have to worry about being grandparents anytime soon or even further down the road. This can be looked at as a good thing temporarily, but a little depressing for the future.
It is obvious that Bill and I will, more than likely, never become grandparents and that Christian’s chances for going to college and very slim. However, I do understand that nothing is impossible and with time you never know what will happen; but reality shows us right now that he still cannot read or write nor have an on-going conversation. The good news is that this was by far, Christian’s best summer. He was very well behaved this summer and participated extremely well in summer camp and summer school. He actually interacted with other “non-autistic” children by engaging in games and activities at camp and in our home. I had a 4th of July party this year and he had a blast with the other kids who attended; he played appropriately in the pool with them and in the house. He never had any type of meltdown and was never mean or rough with any of the other children.
Bill and I were so thrilled that we actually were able to have people over our house and not have to send anyone home due to any type of meltdown or misbehavior issues. Our party lasted from 1 to 8:30 pm; we were extremely pleased with how he did that day.
We hope that the teenager years bring more content and calmness to his behavior; however I have been hearing the complete opposite from many other parents. I have read many times that autistic children have a tendency to experience more rage and irritability simply due to changes in hormones. This is extremely worrisome to me because after our horrendous summer of 2010, I really don’t think I could go through that again. I pray that these upcoming years will continue to be manageable and stable.
In the meantime, I look forward to celebrating his 13th birthday and I literally have to take one day at a time with Christian. I am grateful for the little things that other people don’t; going out to the store with no meltdowns; days where he is happy and not irritable; nights that he sleeps without getting up at 3 a.m.; hearing that he had a good day at school; hearing him say “Hi Daddy!” when Bill comes home with no prompting from me; and the times when he comes over to me and kisses me on the cheek. Our latest milestone was that Christian actually ate “take-out” food; we recently learned of Olive Garden’s Gluten-Free menu and Christian loves the Penne Rigate Meal with a side of grapes. Our next goal is to see if we can actually dine out in the restaurant; he recently did well when I took him out for ice cream, so we will see.
Happy 13th Birthday Christian!