It has been said many times over the years that my middle child and I are so alike it is scary. We look alike, have the same mannerisms, we even sound alike!
Someone close long ago once said to me “there could never be another like me” along with “they broke the mould when they made you”.
They got it wrong.
For she is so very much like me. There is a part of me that wished she wasn’t.
In theory that should make it easy to be the parent she requires, to give her the nurturing and support she needs.
The reality is over these last few weeks I feel I am living in a parallel universe where I am back starting my own journey through high school.
It is not going well, I know how she feels, I know how she thinks, she is walking in my shoes and I am walking in hers, yet somehow she is just out of reach.
Yesterday she told me everything feels wrong. I remember exactly how that feels.
School days are like a helter-skelter, rollercoaster ride of emotions for us both, both of us are anxious, stressed and exhausted, she feels this way because it is all so new and overwhelming, I am feeling this way because I know how much she is struggling and I am worried how much more she can take.
School, life and ASD totally broke me once. I forever have to live with the scars that prove it.
The trait I learned to control and hide eventually at school is so highly visible within her right now, she shouts, swears and offends teachers and pupils every time it all gets too much, she is isolated and alone, vulnerable and miss understood.
I keep racking my brain trying to remember all the tricks that got me through the days, then I remembered how awful my own early high school days were, I was flung out of classes, I was easily led into trouble, I didn’t fit in either.
It was Christmas of my final and fourth school year before I settled down. Before I worked out I needed a desk in the corridor, gum to chew and music to listen to, to cope, I was given everything I asked for because at least I had stopped shouting and throwing school furniture!
I still have that final school report where two different teachers referred to me an an “enigma”.
I now fully understand the frustration and confusion they must have felt!
Being a teenager on the spectrum is so hard, so confusing, so overwhelming and challenging.
My daughter is doing as I did, questioning why she can’t behave like everyone else, why she can’t follow group conversations, why can’t she communicate what she really thinks and feels, why she doesn’t share the usual teenage girl interests, why it feels like she is living in a world she has no rightful place in?
I keep trying to build her up, “it’s o.k to be different”. “You are perfect to me”. “If you believe it you can do it”. She doesn’t want to hear it. She wants to be like everyone else.
We are embarking on what must be the hardest life lesson to learn as a teenager with high functioning ASD, no matter how hard you try to be neurotypical it can never be.
How do I know?
Right now she is walking in the very same shoes I walked in many years ago…