Parenting An Older Child With Autism
As many of you know I have a son who was diagnosed with Aspergers Syndrome a couple of years ago and I have to admit that although we knew he was autistic, to finally have it in black and white as an official diagnosis was a huge relief.
It’s not that I wanted him to be autistic, I just wanted answers and an explanation to his sometimes odd behaviour. I think that any parent of a child with autism will relate to that; if it has a name we can deal with it or that’s how I felt. It is now our normal.
Things haven’t been easy and I won’t lie and say everything is hunky dory because it really isn’t. Parenting is hard, full stop. Parenting a child with autism is harder still and when it comes to parenting an older child with autism, I have been finding it nigh on impossible.
To be honest, at the age of nineteen my son is no longer a child, so should not be treated like one, which makes things even harder. He’s not daft, but has unbending, quirky ways and what I call additional baggage, which comes in the form of a sensory disorder, dyspraxia and a myopathy (which is a totally separate condition and which is part of the reason why we got a late diagnosis for autism).
Last Week Reality Hit Me; Parenting An Older Child With Autism Brings With It Great Responsibility
Never having to be away from my family, it never occurred to me what would happen if I had to be away from my family… Until last week, that is.
My sister in the UK and her family are going through a lot. In two weeks time my sister will be giving her husband one of her kidneys. A gift like no other. Having two young children and with our parents being over here, they will be needing some help. Going through something like that you want your family there too. My sisters husbands parents live nearby and help out a lot. My sisters (our) parents are over here with me (obviously a bit of favoritism going on there).
Last week when Mum got the call from my sister, she was going to go over on her own, so I said I’d go with her and stay for two weeks to help out with the children, whilst my sister and her husband are in hospital. Mum will stay there for seven weeks, just over the length of time it should take them to recover.
But I really can’t go. My children are no longer children, but I can’t leave Greg’s for any length of time on his own as he just wouldn’t eat or drink (he doesn’t feel hunger or thirst) and he probably wouldn’t get out of bed (his alarm goes off at nine o’clock every morning, but he doesn’t get up and probably wouldn’t if I weren’t here).
In the winter leaving him, would be more doable, but Neal has started his summer work and will be out of the house for at least ten hours a day, seven days a week and that is too long to leave Greg’s. Catherine has exams, so it’s unfair to ask her to keep a furtive eye on him.
If my Dad hadn’t stepped up and said he’ll go over with Mum instead of me, I would have gone. I would have pushed my family’s needs to the back of my mind and I would have gone. I can’t imagine what my sisters little ones must be feeling like, they are nine and six and will be scared for their parents. A lot of fun distractions will be in order and who better than Auntie Debs?…No!…Fatpoose (the Greek name for Grandad is Papoose, you can work the rest out for yourself – except he’s not really!).
Is that parenting an older child with autism means that I can’t be sure that my parenting responsibilities will ever change. I have to live in the here and now, taking things one step at a time and hoping that things come together for him. Hoping Greg’s therapy works and that something clicks… Again, don’t get me wrong he is far from daft, he is just wired differently.
Greg’s has his own ways of doing things and cannot see any problem in not eating or drinking, he has a thing about the microwave that isn’t safe and will happily wear the same clothes, in like forever…The list goes on. Thankfully showering and changing his underpants daily are habits he got into from a young age, and have stuck with him.
He has an amazing memory and will also knock you down with sporting statistics from way back when (football, snooker, darts) and he doesn’t miss a trick, which comes in handy as I have a hopeless memory and miss all the tricks.
So that’s my reality of parenting an older child with autism. Have you had a reality check recently?
If you want to read a post on autistic children and illness, you really should read this post by Catie, who has shared an excellent post on her blog Diary Of An Imperfect Mum.
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