Thursday, July 19, 2012

Asperger Highs and Lows

Sometimes our Asperger child soars so high and achieves so much it's easy to pretend that Autism doesn't affect him that much any more... we tell ourselves that maybe the worst is over... and we are lulled into a false sense of security. So we pull back support a little, we let nagging fears and worries subside and we coast along feeling content. Then suddenly our AS child's world implodes and the fantasy life we have created for him in our imagination disintegrates in an instant!
Life seems to have a way of tapping us on the shoulder when we become too complacent. I'm guilty of this... again! In all fairness though, I think it's human nature to hope for the best, to think positively and ignore nagging doubts, but I do believe this is what gets me into trouble every time our son crashes and burns. It feels like I'm starting over each time... it shouldn't be this hard - we've been doing this for 21 years - surely we know what to expect?
I can't decide which is the better approach - should we (as parents) be on our guard the entire time with our son and support him with military-like precision, even if he doesn't want it? Or should we relax and stand back and watch him soar when he's achieving, and celebrate his success with him?
I always thought the 'highs' and 'lows' of life with an Asperger child would even out and become more like a series of speed bumps, but I'm beginning to see that we may have to climb mountains and tumble into crevasses instead. I guess I just need to adjust my picture of life with Autism because not only is the view from the top of the mountain glorious, there are many hidden treasures awaiting in the crevasses.
Recently our Asperger child successfully applied for an apartment, in a city far from home. He was emotionally and sensorily exhausted from living out of a suitcase and sleeping on a friends couch - no privacy - no space to call his own. We celebrated his delight at finally being able to afford an apartment on his own - he would never have to struggle with interacting with flat mates who didn't understand him again. He would never again be at their mercy when it comes to renewing a lease... "We have another friend who'd like to share, and we'd rather him". We also know this will contribute to his success - he needs a 'safe space' where he can be himself, recharge, chill out and most importantly, get away from people.
To add to his joy, the next day he was offered some freelance design work! This would really boost his bank account as he was starting out. He was so excited, so happy! Finally, everything seemed to be coming together. His Dad and I were happy too - for the first time in many weeks we could finally exhale! This move interstate was going to work!
Our Asperger child rang early on his first morning of work. Anxiety had kept him awake all night... a panic attack had nearly crippled him at 3am. "I can't do it Mum - it's too much all at once!" So distraught - so disappointed in himself - so scared that this will be the pattern for his future!
As parents we've just learned a valuable lesson. Sometimes the 'pace' of life can cause anxiety. We will have to be vigilant and help him learn to 'put the brakes on' and how to say no, or at least hold off a potential job offer until he can cope.