I haven’t written about my autistic daughter lately because frankly, I’m having a hard time keeping up with her. There’s been a whole lot of good, but a whole lot of annoying too. I feel like my head is spinning.
On the good side:
- She’s continuing to do great in school. Not at grade level in anything, but making progress.
- She’s starting to get the hang of using a calculator, which is something we hoped would happen since she’s abysmal at math. She’s learning how to use it for basic math, but also for money values, which is huge since her concept of money is also pretty poor.
- Her reading ability also continues to improve. She LOVES to read! She’s about three grades below grade level, but she’s independent and thoroughly enjoys it.
- ALSO, (autism parents will completely get my joy at this), she’s been willing to eat many new foods! Up till about three months ago this child would have TWO things for lunch: pizza on “pizza Fridays” at school, and macaroni & cheese. That was IT. Now she’ll eat bagels with butter, ham sandwiches and turkey sandwiches – this from a girl who wouldn’t even touch BREAD a few months ago, let alone deli meat!
- On a more intimate note, she’s also learned to manage her period in stride. I barely know she has it – she takes care of it all by herself.
- We got her a Kindle for Christmas, hoping she would finally take an interest in video games and doing a few things on the internet, and she’s becoming quite adept at “Subway Surfers” plus some other games as well. Which is great not only for her reasoning skills, but also fine motor skills, which can be a problem for her.
I’m amazed and thrilled by all this!
However, accompanying all this wonderful amazing stuff is frustrating, annoying, patience-wearing-thin stuff. We’ve hit “tweendom” with a force I can’t even describe.
- She’s taken to announcing frequently and loudly, “I’m not a child anymore, I’m a TWEEN.” Another favorite new phrase of hers, especially when I’m trying to get her up and out the door for school is, “Don’t treat me like a child!”
- Her hair has to be “just so” before she leaves for school, and she won’t listen to me when I tell her she’s using too much hairspray – and she won’t let me help.
- She’s started cursing (mostly getting that example from her big sister – who is usually careful to curse in the privacy of her bedroom with the door closed – but – we have thin walls!). I wouldn’t have a problem with this overall, except she has yet to understand all the social rules that go along with it, like kids don’t generally swear in front of their parents, or teachers etc…
- In other ways she is also becoming “mouthy” – attitude overload. “Don’t tell me what to do,” “leave me alone,” “you’re not my boss” etc… and much louder than usual. (Her voice has always been louder than “normal” and we always have to remind her to lower her voice, but it’s getting WORSE)
- She’s getting very bossy. For as much as she doesn’t want to be told what to do – she takes it upon herself to tell everyone else what to do! She’s even injecting herself into my discipline of her siblings!
- She’s also very judgmental. She takes a shower every day. God bless her. I know a lot of autism parents who have a hard time getting their kids to bathe. But when she finds out I skipped a day or two, (c’mon, I do my best!), she calls me DIRTY! If we see someone smoking while we’re driving in our car she’ll say, “BAD ROLE MODEL.” When she found out a friend of ours smoked a cigar once in a while, without a heartbeat she told him to his face that HE was a bad role model and that he was going to die from that! Thank GOD we’re close friends!
I realize the above mentioned items are quite normal for a twelve year old (except for the last one – that’s an autism classic). I’ve been through this before with my oldest – but autism is making it worse worse worse. I could reason with my oldest: “I’m treating you like a child because you’re acting like one,” and while she wouldn’t like it, at least she would get it. My new tween-queen just keeps repeating these phrases whenever I ask her to do anything, or even if I’m doing something nice for her like pouring her a glass of water!
She’s learning the tween jargon, but she has NOT yet learned the social rules surrounding it, the social cues for when to speak up and when to stay quiet – or even the simplest of family rules like, if you want mom to do something for you be nice to her (my eight year old son is a master!).
At the next teacher conference I have to get some advice. I mean, we DO correct her when she’s being rude, but that’s the patience-wearing-thin part – she’s not getting it. I don’t even think she understands what rude looks and sounds like, even though I’m sure they’ve discussed it at school.
So with all the great progress she’s been making, the road is still bumpy. Actually it’s riddled with potholes! Then again, that’s autism…