People ask how I cope with J’s behaviour and my answer is always the same ‘well I have never known any different’. J was my first born child. Now the realisation of a landmark birthday approaching has really made me think about J’s future. J will be 10 whole years later this year and it makes me think back to when I was that age and how much I was aware of my surroundings and even the conversation that your parents have which they assume you cannot hear or understand. Now I know J isn’t quite as coherent as I might of been at his age, but it does make me wonder what he does actually know. I know medically that J’s mental age is a lot lower, last time he was marked down as a mental age of 5.5. Now we don’t know how J will be in the future, we have no idea if he will live a normal life or if he will need support into his adulthood to help him complete day to day tasks, but I am feeling like I need to show him some life lessons.
One thing that I have always done with J is try and make him live his life as normal as possible. He knows that he is slightly different to other children but I try and keep it that everyone is different to each other, there is no two children the same! Diversity is all around us and in many different ways, race, religion, the list goes on and on. I will admit though I have protected him as much as possible from the world, but I truly don’t believe that is because of his Autism and other learning difficulties, its my role as a parent and I do the exact same with my other two children too. I am determined that I will never ever let my children be in danger due to something I have done, and although that means my children are not allowed outside to play like other children from the road, it does mean that they can play in the garden and I would much rather take them out to the park where I can supervise. The thought of any of my babies being out of sight and unsupervised gives me cold shivers. Overreacting? Yes possibly, but you know what? I really don’t care as long as my babies are safe.
At 10 years old I used to be out and about in the countryside with my friends, riding our bikes and even venturing to the shops alone. But I do have to realise that things are different for J, not only because we live in a busy town, but also because J isn’t an average ‘soon to be 10 year old’. J has ADHD too and has no fear whatsoever. When outside he has to be constantly supervised as he would step out in the road without so much as a shred of thought. But I give J freedom within the house and safe boundaries. Our garden is 100% safe for him with 6 foot tall fences and a locked gate I can give him some freedom to play out there and not be too concerned with what is happening (says the mum with cctv hooked up so I can watch, yes really I do). I think it’s really important he is given some freedom and space to grow as himself and play as he likes without worrying about mum watching over him.
So as the big 10 approaches, what about the future? Well I know J needs to learn some important life lessons. One being money and one being his personal care. Although J isn’t safe to be left unattended in the bathroom, I am trying to give him as much privacy as possible. I also think I need to start teaching him some lessons on how to look after himself. Nothing too major but he has never helped himself to a drink, let alone food. When I heard from a friend how her 7 year old can make himself toast and even microwave beans I was shocked, I have never ever considered letting any of my children do that. Although maybe the toaster and microwave are a while away yet, I have a plan to let J make himself a sandwich. It might sound small and simple, but it’s little things like this that I really think he needs to learn to do independently to help him later in life.
I have no idea how J’s life will be as he grows up, but as a parent its my job to try and prepare him for the big wide world regardless of difficulties.