When I started thinking about this blog, I wanted to write about my challenges with my son during 2017 because it was a year of many challenges and changes. Over the New Year holiday I saw so many friends’ posts on social media about what a difficult year 2017 had been for them for a variety of different reasons.
I think 2017 was a difficult year for many of us. It is hard when everything changes without warning and you are left feeling like someone pulled the rug out from under you. When the place you were once comfortable in is now gone, you wonder if anything will ever feel “normal” again. I think 2017 left a lot of us in that place.
At first, I was really mad at myself because I did not see it coming, but in honesty, it wouldn’t have made a difference. Keeping everything in perspective, what I consider challenging was a year full of changes, the introduction of medication, and a new school with new faces. The reality is we are all still here and healthy and after what some of my friends have been through this past year, I want to be respectful of that fact.
So I find myself in a new role as a parent of a young adult and this is the hardest one yet. Knowing when to push and when to step back is tricky. I remember being 19 and thinking that I knew it all and wanted to be independent of my parents. How do you balance that for a young adult with ASD who does not have the skills to be totally independent but is somehow pushing against everyone and everything because of the frustration presented by the challenges of their diagnosis? What do you do when your child, who already has limited access to parts of the world, makes it even smaller by their behaviors?
So for now, I take each day one at a time and deal with what each day brings. Not every day is bad. We are actually a long way away from where we were one year ago. Finding a place for my son in this world as an adult will present different problems at various times. Behaviors exhibited by a 3 year old are not as cute when displayed by an adult with ASD. Knowing if it is a good day to take him out versus staying home…is learned through trial and error.
Over school break my son repetitively watched the movie “Sing”. I always seemed to walk into the room as one of the characters was saying “You know what’s the great thing about hitting rock bottom? There’s only one way to go and that’s up!”
So that is my goal for 2018….looking “up”. “Up” to me means learning from each experience from last year, applying new strategies, and knowing that each day is a new day. That planting seeds to produce new behaviors takes time. Recently, I have learned so much about anxiety and self-regulations that I don’t feel so overwhelmed by the behavior challenges but more empowered or at least educated to understand them. “Up” to me isn’t that the problem is solved but that it doesn’t leave me with my head spinning and feeling helpless. Each new tool in my toolbox allows me to climb one step higher out of rock bottom. I don’t know how far it will take me but I like the direction it is leading me.
My hope is that if you struggled during 2017, this upcoming year is full of peace and joy. I hope you took something from the challenges you met with last year and can somehow apply your own version of “up” to 2018.