My eldest has Asperger's Syndrome. He is 17 years old and most of the time, he's a great kid. When the meds are off or he's nervous or anxious it can be hell. Matt struggles with adolescence. Emotionally, he knows he still feels like a 12 year old - there have been many times Matt has told me he still wishes he were 10 because things were a lot easier then. I often reply, "me, too", but mostly we just try to talk about how getting older can be a good thing. Hormonally, he's definitely 17, but bless his heart, he knows there is a pretty significant gap between what his body wants to do and what his emotional self can handle. Example - he has been friends with a girl at school since they were kids. This girl has started to reach out to Matt, a card here, a phone call there. Boy was that interesting - 2 1/2 hour conversation - I haven't had a 2 1/2 hour conversation with him in his whole LIFE - he is challenged in "expressive speech". I wonder if they want to take the relationship beyond platonic friends; I've asked him, and his response was, "Mom, it would be great, but I'm not ready - my head isn't old enough to date". I thought that was pretty mature for a kid that still won't watch anything beyond Cartoon Network.
Matt plays street hockey with the Special Olympics. Hockey and skiing are the two things that can get him outside and active. He loves it. Last weekend, he went with the team to play in a tournament at the Jersey Shore. He got to room with his buddies, hang out and watch movies, all the things that these kids don't always find easy to do. During that weekend, he showed such maturity - he called home to check in, called after his games to tell me how they did (they made the finals!). He called the next day to let me know they took the silver - and he was okay with not winning. When I picked him up on Sunday, he showed me the medals with such pride and we talked in the car about how some of the kids didn't deal well with the loss, and how proud he was that he doesn't do that anymore. That meant more to me than winning a gold medal.
Today, I received a note from one of the parents telling me how responsible and polite he was the entire weekend - that he really was a lovely young man. This is a kid who will probably need assistance his entire life - receiving something like this was just as pleasurable as hearing that he'd be valedictorian of his class. It makes me have hope that making the transition will be more positive that we thought possible.
Here's my young man at Hemingway's house in Key West:
I mentioned that I would update my previous entry with my daughter's dress for the dance - doesn't she look beautiful?: