A mothers anxiety as her autistic son turns 18
As a mother of a 17-and-a-half-year-old boy with autism, ADHD, Dyslexia, ODD and other diagnosis that come with that, I’m struggling to come to terms with the fact that in less than six months, my son will be an adult.
Where has the last 18 years gone? My first child was a difficult baby, he was hard to settle and suffered from colic, so every feed and sleep time was the worst. I have to admit though, being a first time Mum, I didn’t have much of an idea of what I was doing at the time, but I tried my best and we got through it.
As he was turning one I was so please with myself that we had survived that first year. Little did I know the struggles that lay ahead for both of us.
He was a mischief, a little terror. He would commando crawl everywhere until he started walking at about 13 months. He was into everything. I remember going into check on him when he was supposed to be having his afternoon nap and finding 99 tissues out of a new box of 100 strewn across the bed.
It wasn’t until four-year-old kinder that I was told that he had some communication and behavioural issues. This came as a bit of a shock, but then again it wasn’t, I knew he was a bit quirky, but I really didn’t know what autism was. He didn’t socialise well and didn’t have any close friends. He was one to play on his own, but seemed intelligent, always coming out with interesting facts and information.
There was no formal diagnosis until the age of seven, and with that came some other diagnosis which are often attached to autism.
Primary school was difficult for both of us. I had never visited the principals’ office more in my life until my son started prep. The school didn’t deal well with kids on the spectrum well. At the time though, I was just learning about it all and didn’t have high expectations, so I just went through the motions and did what I thought was the right thing to do at the time.
Secondary school has not been without its challenges, however with a fully funded teaching aide and the support from staff at the school we seem to have had a much smoother ride. Don’t get me wrong; there has been plenty of bumps along the way.
We also now have a great care team thanks to the funding we’ve received from the NDIS, but that’s all come into fruition in the last 12 months or so. I wish we could have had this years ago, but I’m so grateful for the support now.
We’re now at a point in time where his 18th birthday is not far away and my concerns as my son enters adulthood are causing me some anxiety. I’m worried about him drinking, going out and potentially getting himself into trouble. He’s socially awkward, and can easily misread a conversation or actions and say the wrong thing. He has firm views and beliefs that could really get him into trouble.
Fortunately, he won’t have his license for a while at this stage, so my concerns about him getting out are limited as I will most likely be the taxi driver if he does choose to interact socially.
Perhaps he may not even want to go out, he doesn’t have many friends and most are younger than him. However, there may be other things he wants to do and if he’s an adult, what can I do to stop him? He can get angry and aggressive and is extremely oppositional. I feel that these next few years may be difficult to manage and I’m not sure how I’m going to cope.
I will continue to support him, but he will have the right to refuse my help and that of others, and I could be powerless to do anything about it. My priority is to help him to get through school and finish his year 12 VCAL course. I also need to help him prepare for the world so he can live individually and support himself.
It’s going to be a challenge, but I’ve come this far, we’ve achieved so much over the last 18 years. I now need to accept this next challenge and see where it takes us both. Wish us luck as I’m sure we’re going to need it!