Friday, November 22, 2013

Autism Answer: Teens, Autism, and Abusive Boyfriends--Oh My!

Living with a teenager can be like living with an abusive boyfriend. 

He wakes and you wonder, "What kind of mood today?" and "What should I do to make sure today goes well?" 

When he's home you're on edge and when he's out you're on edge. 

There are some significant differences. 

You walk on eggshells to avoid a meltdown, but with your teen you know it's your job to teach him and ask him to grow. So when you've had enough coffee, you allow the eggshells to break purposely, as a teaching tool. 

With the abusive boyfriend your job is to leave him. *Please leave him! By staying you're only saying with your actions that you like it and want it to continue!*

With the teen your job is to stay, and teach him by exampling and putting your foot down and raising the bar.

Luckily I've had practice, because living with a teen is also a lot like living with autism. And I grew up surrounded by autism! I grew up watching my mom encourage a change in routine for my autistic brothers, ask them to handle it and believe that they could. She insisted they eat foods that were healthy even though it meant sitting in the kitchen for two days patiently and lovingly coaxing and reminding them that eating the food was the only way to leave the table. The key words here: patiently and lovingly. Like teenagers being told they could not go out with friends they screamed, twisted their bodies, and tried to inflict bodily harm on themselves. I watched my mom believe that they could learn with unwavering certainty and conviction. I watched my mom honor their challenges by playing detective and following clues to find out why they were having a hard time, and making helpful changes. Insisting, too, that everyone in their world do the same. 

Her abusive husbands she left behind, her teens and autistic rug-rats were gifted with a love, strength, and insistence that we are forever grateful for. 

So, living with a teen can be like living with an abusive boyfriend.

But being the parent means not being like the victim living with an abusive boyfriend! 

We mustn't tip-toe around our kids and then complain or commiserate behind their backs. And we must never try to change or fight the hormones or autism out of them. 

We should, however, ask them to learn, and then be ready for the meltdowns--but don't assume or expect them. Our children feel our expectations. We should always believe they can do it! 

Autism Answer: Parenting is a lot of work! It's supposed to be. But when you remember to take on the role with intention and your big-girl or big-boy pants, it is also fun and infinitely rewarding!! 

*My son was rather cranky one morning. You have him to thank for this post! tee hee!

Three of my four teens, enjoying a board game together.
Ahhhh.... the honeymoon period after a meltdown!!
It's beautiful!
And totally worth it for our children.
NOT abusive boyfriends!!