I’ll be honest – high school was rough for my big guy. Autism is hard for everyone. Let’s leave it at that. I have so, so, so many things I can say about his journey and I will share them as they become relevant or useful to share. For now, I am recovered from that journey in time for my youngest to hit high school, and I once again have the resources to blog about it all.
Every year of my kids childhood, I had these delusions of grandeur about learning and what we would be learning and ultimately, I didn’t really require them to do anything. You can look back at the materials we were hoping to use and you can also see a post every year where I say “Yeah–that plan was funny”. I let them pretty much choose what they wanted to do and left it at that. It seemed to work. My oldest wanted to learn things – just not the stuff I wanted to teach him. So we let him go. My youngest wanted to play and since she learned to read and conceptually understood math operations by the same time – I left it all alone.
That definitely changed for us before COVID when my oldest hit puberty and really had a lot of biochemical change and difficulty that really affected our entire household. It was a ROUGH couple of years. Initially, we let things go for a year to see if they would just settle out. They didn’t. So we changed direction and started imposing learning and responsibilities, etc. and all of that went poorly, too. For our oldest, this was ultimately what woke us up to the fact that we were not seeing his level of disability; and by not seeing this and expecting things of him that he really wasn’t capable of – it was affecting his mental health. That’s a really hard thing to identify sometimes in people in the spectrum. Sometimes it’s not visible until it’s really gotten bad. That was our case.
But then COVID happened and our family was thankfully employed, but overworked to the point where our children were beyond neglected for 3-6 months. The toll that took on my youngest is something we’re still working through (and I’m super thankful that we’re making progress and she has great supports around her including in her friend group). Her issues with math were now clearly not just anxiety and she was tested and formally diagnosed with dyscalculia in late spring of 2022. Holy crap, y’all… I knew what it WAS but that was about where it ended. Not being able to do math at the level of her age-peers was only compounding her mental health. Can we say “shit show”?
So here we are… one kid graduated out of high school last year (2022), accepted to multiple colleges (but currently home undergoing medical treatment and his college of choice not requiring him to reapply – just fill out a form saying he’s ready to return, at which point they will re-evaluate his initially generous scholarship situation)… and one very different kid stepping into high school.
And a mama that is ready to move forward.