Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Use Adjusted Age

I haven't seen many of you in a (half-decade) while. How are you all doin'?

I wanted to leave this little note, to say this blog was very helpful to me. Though technically Asperger's has been psychologically erased, sliding over to let autism be the umbrella word, my Aspie son is now 21 years old. That's right, we've come out the other side. Whhew.

Frankly, it doesn't much matter anymore, his label. After maybe his second year at state college, it really didn't come up anymore that he has autism, though he might talk about it with his doctor or psychiatrist, medium-rarely with friends and professors. I guess I just wanted to show you a glimpse of what it looks like from over here.

The world of autism has changed! Mine was diagnosed at 8 years old, and then there wasn't much help for him in terms of increasing his abilities in deficit areas. We are the trajectory they show you, the lower one on the chart that didn't get intervening services and therapies at 3 years old. I was his therapist, as I'm sure many of you understand. We dealt with things as they came, day by day. I'm happy to say we conquered. Mostly. He conquered. I survived.

His little cousin is at the top of the chart, receiving concentrated help with his issues 2-3 times a week. A lot of his challenges, which would otherwise be spread out and handled one at a time, are assessed and addressed all at once. His sloping trajectory should land him in a better functioning place by the time he is in college. The therapy is really challenging. I used to think that so much hard work was unfair and too taxing on their little bodies and minds. Maybe it is unfair, if such a thing exists, but I was wrong---these children can handle much more than I thought. Maybe it was me who couldn't handle more? I'll leave that for another day, or never.

My son is doing GREAT. He has 45 college credits spread over the last 2 years. He lives at home, kind of in his own section of the house. He does his laundry, and could survive making cereal, sandwiches and frozen baked foods. Pizza delivery is in his contacts on his phone. He also has a Lyft app for when he needs a car ride, otherwise he rides his bike the 4 miles to his school. He mows our lawn, does the dishes if I ask him and occasionally helps with walking the 3 little dogs.

It's not helpful to compare ourselves to others. It's also not helpful to constantly be critiquing him on how he is doing with his challenges. For him, he needs success, he needs positive feedback and rewards. We try to focus on what he is doing well, and slowly encourage additional goals. Ha, like us all.

I did want to say: what is most helpful now that he has graduated from high school, is thinking of his development in terms of his adjusted age. Many aspies developmental age is about 70% of their real age. So he is 21 now, I try to think of him sometimes as about 16-17 years old. It helps to not be overwhelmed with where we THINK he should be. Would I expect a 17 year old to move out, have a job, and get good grades in college classes? No. Not all at once. We did consider a CIP program when we were in Indiana, and also here in Florida, where they work on all of it at once, abruptly, after they turn 18. For us, that probably would have resulted in a deepening depression and return of suicidal talk.

All our children are different. I'd love to hear how yours are doing.