It’s hard watching someone you care about deeply, heading in the same direction as you did, full speed to make the same mistakes. To suffer in a similar way. To feel at a loss and powerless to help them.
One of my children will leave their first school in a few days time and instead of enjoying this time of new adventure and celebration, anxiety and the need for control is making this a horrendous experience for us all.
At the moment this child is hell bent on driving all their friends away and alienating all those, adults included that don’t understand my child’s bizarre behaviour.
I am finding it hard to watch because I did the very same thing many, many, moons ago. See if I ended a friendship, it was easier and hurt less than if the friend did, plus I had the control I desperately needed and craved. There was also an element of testing, if I could be really mean and horrible to someone and they didn’t run away then that gave me security in that relationship.
I have tried to reassure my child, tried desperately to offer advice, something stronger than me appears to have control.
My child is off to a school ten times the size of their current one. I think their behaviour is a bit of both, driving people away because that is better than being abandoned when current friends make new friends and move on naturally and testing who will still be my child’s friend after all this turbulence, in this new environment.
It seems to me that some of the females, those on the spectrum at the high functioning end only really learn social skills and social lessons from our mistakes and we seem to have to make many epic huge ones to learn such small lessons. At my middle childs age I could be told something a thousand times and still not understand, or I would defy the rules. I am fairly sure my own ASD profile has an element of pathological demand avoidance, PDA that has thankfully mellowed over the years. Maybe it changed when I learned to tell myself “I can…” even when my brain was screaming “I can’t” at me. Or maybe it changed when I learned to trick myself into believing I am in control?
I was in my twenties before I learned it was o.k not to have control at all times. Life got a lot easier when I learned to let go. Although even now occasionally the control monster will come out and it will take a few days for me to realise I am once again in full must have control mode. It happened to me just recently when someone forced a change on me I wasn’t ready for, leading to a full scale meltdown, that on reflection was hugely embarrassing, seriously I totally overreacted, something that rarely happens with me since I learned the “if you can’t change it or have no control, let it go” lesson.
My child doesn’t understand their vulnerability they seem to lack inhibition, caused by their undiagnosed ASD. Just as I did and because they also can’t easily predict the motives of others and this terrifies me. I ended up in so many dangerous situations because of this, where I was taken advantage of and I don’t want this to be the same for my child. I was left with severe post traumatic stress disorder as a result of some of the goings on in my teenage years, something that has taken me years to move on from.
I don’t want this fate for my child.
At the moment this child still thinks in black and white and has yet to gain grey thinking skills. My oldest child is just beginning to at long last demonstrate awareness of the need to not see the world in black and white, they are four years older than the middle child I am referring to in this post. Based on this we have four more years of black and white thinking with an explosive temper and self destructive attitude with the child in the middle. I was sixteen when I realised I had to change my behaviour to stop ending up in dangerous situations, where I was vulnerable and at risk. That fits perfectly with my theory.
As an adult who seemed to develop understanding and some social skills much later than my peers I look back on my teenage years with a great deal of sadness. I was struggling with my identity hugely, I knew I was different, but not why, I thought it was my background, my experiences, it took twenty more years to find the real underlying answer. That answer being ASD.
I did so many stupid things because I couldn’t foresee the consequences, because I lacked inhibition, I could walk into a bar at 14 and order a drink, I was never refused or asked for ID, why ? because the rules said I couldn’t! No one questioned it I guess because although I am not a confident person I can act like one. I stopped drinking the day it became legal for me, there is one huge massive marker if ever there was one on the ASD/ PDA front!
Or perhaps I made epic mistakes because someone who sensed my vulnerability gave me attention when I was severely struggling to maintain friendships, making me easily lead into the path of danger. I didn’t share interests with my peers, that and a serious lack of social skills although I was always seemingly very confident.
I always had much older friends, that put me in danger because I couldn’t easily predict their motives. It is a very strange conundrum having ASD but being highly sociable and desperately seeking social contact all three of my children are the same even the little one who has severe ASD with developmental delay is a highly sociable character. I know it was in an attempt to prove to the world I was the same as everyone else that I took huge harmful risks.
I needed saving from myself!
In the end I learned to save myself by becoming quite reclusive for a long time, I withdrew from the world in many ways for many years, only allowing those that survived the “push away” test to remain in my world and slowly over the last ten years I have been finding my way back.
Now I am watching on as my child looks set to follow a similar developmental trajectory wishing I could somehow make them understand the lessons they need to learn without all the danger and pain I experienced, wishing I could save them from themselves as I wish someone had done for me.
I see the beginnings of the same behaviours I exhibited starting to show in my middle child.
It really scares me.