Sunday, June 19, 2011

Mommy vs. The Autistic Teen-Ager, Part I

In the twenty-four hours from Friday afternoon to Saturday, I came to realize that even though autism re-routes his brain, it does not impede one simple truth in life.

Sean is a teen-ager.

And, thus, he will talk back.

I sent him to his room yesterday - not something I do all the time.  In fact, I can't remember the last time I did it.

In his mind, that was his punishment....

In my mind, it was "you better get out of my sight right now"....

I was beyond furious. 

And that whole motherly-understanding, let's step back and think about where he's coming from?  Out the door....see ya!

I was angry.

It all began Friday and what could have very easily been a perfect summer afternoon.  With nothing on the calendar and take-out pizza planned for dinner, I headed to the water park with all three kids in tow looking forward to spending hours not watching the clock from the splash zone.

And it really did go almost as perfectly as it sounded.... 

Sean and Carissa were joined by one of her friends and they did not ditch him at the first taste of freedom.  They had, after all, been warned....

"If you ditch Sean, Mommy will not only kill you but then I'll write about it as well."

Ahhhh, a fate worse than death.... becoming fodder in Mommy's blog.

The older kids checked in when they were supposed to and even "raced"  their little sister on the lazy river.

The sun was out, the weather warm, the water just cool enough to offer comfort... Like I said, a perfect summer afternoon.

Carissa's girlfriend eventually went home and I told the kids that they could have another thirty minutes or so before we would head out ourselves.

Ashley wanted to show the older ones how she could "swim" and do tricks in the big pool while holding on to the side wall.

We headed there and all was good for a few minutes.  Then Carissa wanted to go into the "whirlpool" (a circular area with its own current) and handed me her goggles to hold.  Having goggles on is against the rules in that area...

Where Carissa goes, Ashley will follow.  I asked Sean to hold Carissa's goggles while I took Ashley into the current.  He took them from my hand and placed them down in the water and let go.

Huh?  Maybe he didn't hear me.

I picked them up and again asked him to hold them for me.

He again placed them down and let them go.

OK, maybe he didn't understand.

I picked them up a third time and asked him again to hold them for me.

"Hold them" was not so mommy-politely emphasized.

Sean got a look on his face.  It was just if I had demanded him to do the impossible.

I knew he was tired.  I knew he was cold.  But all those symptoms had suddenly come on in the last few minutes and all we needed was a 15-second trip in the whirlpool.

He shot back and yelled at me - enough so that other parents in the area turned to look.

I was mortified.

This was not autism in front of me.  This was an angry, defiant teen-ager trying to one-up me and I was not going to have it.

I gave him the goggles and told him, as sternly as I could, to hold them.

I grabbed Ashley and off we went.

A few minutes later we were out of the pool and I had the kids lounge on their towels to dry off for a bit in the sun before getting back into the car.

Sean complained the entire time.

"When are we going home?"

I tried "soon."  I tried having him watch the clock.

Nothing worked.

Not until we walked out through the gate did his entire demeanor change.

Now that's the autism.....

I asked Sean in the car if it was a wise choice to argue with me.  He said no...  Knowing that he wanted to leave, did he save any time by arguing with me?  No.

Did it take longer to argue with me or to simply hold the goggles?

What would he do if it happens again?

He knew all the right answers and yet he couldn't pull them from the depths of his brain when he needed them.

Looking back, between the autism and the angry, hormonally-imbalanced, testosterone-infused teen-ager inside of him, I don't think Sean was capable at the moment that it happened to find the proper path to take.

I hope it was a learning experience... for both us.

Tomorrow I'll let you in on Part 2... and why he was sent to his room.

1 comment:

  1. To quote the teacher/tutor we once had "like it or not, they all grow up"... when I was worried about my eldest son not learning at the age of 6. I spent a lovely (NOT) trip home from my Mother's this morning with a miserable "tween" passes for normal mild NLD (so much for the non-verbal mild PDD of our first dx), nearly 12yr old....

    Don't beat yourself up.... they have to learn right from wrong, how to mind, how to behave. Yes, it was minor in the water yesterday... but tomorrow it may be a car coming flying down the street... and that could be a disaster.