Sometimes I forget that my teenager has challenges. I just see my daughter with demands like other teenagers and pushing boundaries like other teenagers.
The difference shows itself, when my daughter doesn’t get the answer or the result she wants. Her immaturity in coping with disappointment is quite dramatic and torturous for me.
I had never really put it together that my daughter was on the spectrum of Autism. Her individual diagnosis’s from age five of Delayed mental development, Speech and Language Comprehension Disorder, Sensory Disorder, Dyspraxia, Dyslexia and ADHD, in my ignorance, didn’t alert me to Autism. Although she was fortunate enough to start early on with private Occupational therapy and educational support. I also worked hard with her myself in helping her organise and managing things. And over the years, she began to meet all the milestones other children do and at age fifteen she continues to do so! She can read really well and she can pass her school tests and she rides in competition on her pony!
So, I’m very proud of her of course, but then my expectations of her rise a little. In the sense that I forget sometimes that she has to work really hard to get an achievement result. And also that I have to be on my full alert in order to help her keep on top of her homework, organisation of copies, books and folders, cookery preparation and cleaning and also personal hygiene, not leaving out keeping on top of her clothes, uniforms and horse riding equipment.
If I’m stressed or tired, things can become unorganised and this has a big impact on her, and then we’re chasing our tail emotionally.
Also I never really realised the physical and emotional effect it has on me and indeed other members of the family. From a twelve week old baby, my daughter had severe crying fits that grew into toddler tantrums. These would begin if I took her out in the car or a busy environment. Because I loved her completely, as she grew, I never saw her as different from other little girls. I used to cry a lot myself when she was having her terror tantrum and she vomited a lot so I was very busy cleaning her up and cleaning up after her.
I have learned a lot in fifteen years and I don’t cry as often. I have a good system of managing possible bad behaviour which have replaced the toddler tantrums!
But Autism doesn’t go away and there’s always some new challenge to tackle.
At the moment I’m trying to get my daughter to acknowledge her difficulty and accept herself. I’m trying to explain to her that everybody has challenges and that it’s perfectly ok. I’m trying to encourage her to acknowledge her emotions and to try figure out in her head, if she’s upset, to ask herself why? But I guess that’s a question I only answered for myself in my late forties!