Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Understanding that Idiosyncrasies Don't Just Go Away in Adulthood

The boys had a very successful outing on Sunday. We had found a new social program for them that geared itself to adults on the spectrum. They did not want to participate in the same group so they went in independently. While Mr.GS2 had issues trying to get someone to play a particular board game he enjoyed he did say he wanted to give the group another try. Mr. GS1 apparently did interact quite well in his comic book discussion group, but he became overwhelmed by the newness of situation, and left early. He said he would go again next month too.

I think a major point that needs to be taken from here is that whatever issue your child may have had as a teen, or even younger will follow them into adulthood. They may have had untold number of social skills classes or supports, but when faced with a new situation, the entire event may cause extreme anxiety. So just try to remember that even as adults they may be confused by:
A new group of people that they don't know.
A new place with which they are unfamiliar.
An unstructured environment, which may be their nadir to begin with.
Noises and smells that they are not used to can also interfere with their new situation.

And yes we had taken them a few weeks before to meet the social workers who run the group. And we had taken them before to see where the meetings will take place. And no, they did not get to meet any of the other participants before the program began.

In truth group dynamics are hard for them. The fact that they were even willing to try is a great victory for them. The fact that they are willing to go back is an even bigger victory.

Meanwhile, Mr.GS1 is doing well at work. He is used to the social conventions at his office, and is quite animated when asked to discuss issues in meetings among his colleagues in the office. He needs support less and less. He wanted to cut back on the aide at lunchtime, with the caveat that he calls if he feels out of sorts at any time. So far, so good.

Mr. GS2 is doing well with his group work in his latest class. Yes the aide supports him, but at this point it's more like moral support. (Honestly, the aide even helps the group when they get stuck on issues or problems. It helps everyone having an aide with degrees in education.) Moreover, MrGS2 is so happy that he is proving himself more capable every day. He truly wants to be independent in life and he seems to be working on that all the time.

As I have mentioned before, even if they are not equal to their peers at the moment when it comes to social activities or even independence, it definitely seems that they are moving forward in these areas. A year ago, neither one would have even wanted to join a social program, never mind go back after being overwhelmed by the new experience.

Growth is a really good thing. Never give up, even if they seem stuck in a rut for a really long time.

Like the tortoise in the story. Slow and steady wins the race.

In situations like this I like to remember a great article I read by an autistic advocate that spelled out why she hated the words "high and low functioning autism". There are simply times that she is high functioning, and times that she is low functioning. It doesn't take away from accomplishments, and it doesn't mean that you and yours won't need some kind of social help and support even if they have masters degrees and wonderful jobs. Please always keep this in mind when thinking about what your child may, or may not need during every step of their development.

More Problems with Functioning Labels

Why This "High-Functioning" Autistic Really Wishes You'd Shut Up About Functioning Autistics

Decoding the High Functioning Label

Watch this video by an autistic advocate. She explains the issue really well.