Thursday, November 6, 2014

The Struggles of Being 13 and Having ASD

It seems that my son is in a phase of self-doubt, which is typical for his age but very much amplified by his Autism Spectrum Disorder.  I was talking to my 24-year-old son about it and he said that he wouldn't go back to that age for anything.  I told him that it didn't seem so intense with him and he said that he just kept it inside.  That seems to be the crux of the matter, my younger son says his feelings are 'on the outside' and he feels helpless to them.  As normal as that is for his age, when you throw in the fact that his executive function pretty much shuts down when he's stressed beyond a certain point, that helplessness can be crippling.

The fact that he cycles so strongly through feelings of doubt and negativity and back again is really affecting our homeschooling.  Sometimes he gets so upset and hopeless that he just gives up without even trying and it's really hard to keep coming up with new ways to encourage and support him.  We've been going to counseling as a family and talking about why he's so resistant and what strategies could help him and it's been quite illuminating.  For example, this week he told our therapist that he knows that if he pushes back hard enough he won't have to do as much work and I'll relent and give him his privileges.  He didn't say it smugly, he actually said it with some shame.  Many of the discussions we have in that office show me just how noisy and confusing it can be in his mind and it's also become much clearer that my husband's mind works much the same way.  I don't blame my husband in any way for my son's autism, I mention that they think alike because that realization has helped me to be more understanding toward my husband.

My son has become very resistant to doing any kind of writing and I'm trying multiple strategies to help him through that struggle.  I have him doing copywork and I'm going to narrate a game on Storium, a role-playing website, for him and three of his friends from the Javascript programming class my husband has been teaching.  He's excited about it and I'm going to combine him dictating to me with him typing some himself, in the hopes that it will help him to express his creativity and realize just how much he has to offer if he can overcome his fear of writing.

Dealing with his feelings of being an outcast is another ongoing struggle, and it's become clear that that's a big part of his resistance to dance classes this year.  The last couple of weeks he's come out of class quiet and sullen and has broken down within minutes of us leaving the dance studio, heartbroken because the girls in his class either ignore him or snark at him.  I'm hoping that lots of gentle reminders that girls don't know what to do with boys his age, let alone boys who are emotional and caring like he is, will help him to come to terms with the difficulties of social interaction with his peers.

I'd love to hear how others deal with the rocky terrain of a teenager with ASD!

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