“I don’t want to grow up!” That is what my 13 (soon to be 14) year old son with Autism said to me. “Being an adult is hard,” he said. With the added complication of puberty hormones surging through his body, my son has expressed sincere discomfort with the changes that come with being a teenager. His voice is deeper, he is almost as tall as his Dad, and pimples are forming. Many times, he asks about traveling back in time. He’s even said, “When I grow up, I want to build a time machine and go back to when I was 7 years old.” At that time, he was not communicating very well. However, right now, he is talking and using his words to express how he feels and what he wants. I think that he believes that he will take these skills with him as he travels back in time. Maybe there was a lot he wanted to communicate back then. Regardless, there is no going back in time – which saddens me. He has admitted to being uncomfortable in his own body. So much so, that he was in tears when he said it. Yes, my heart just cracked wide open. How do I help with this?
My first thought is to keep him busy with things that he enjoys. He practices violin daily and has violin classes once per week. I have added exercise to his routine, twice a week. He’s into video editing and has software to assist with that. Still, I often wonder if I am getting at the core of his discomfort. He asked to go to the doctor and get medicine (his words). That opens a door that we have not yet gone through. There is much to consider. I don’t know what type of side effects he may experience. Over time, I’m sure that the doctor will find the right dosage for him to reduce any side effects. Still, it’s a lot to take in. I’m not afraid to admit that I don’t have all the answers. This is a new chapter in our book of Autism. I’m certain that I will be learning something new real soon. That’s always how it happens. I come up against an obstacle that I need to overcome. In doing so, I learn some valuable lesson or gain a valuable skill in the process. This is no different. I’m seeking and learning – all at the same time.
Back to him not wanting to grow up. In some ways, he is NOT growing up. Although he is 13, he is still very naïve about the world and those who might inflict harm upon him. However, he is aware enough to desire independence. Maybe that’s where I start. Give him opportunities to be independent and see what happens. Maybe that might ease the frustration a bit. Are there areas that you, as a parent, can open the door of independence for your child? Take a chance and see what happens.