What if he is still doing this when he is an adult?


What if he is still doing this when he is an adult?

I think about the future a lot. In fact I think about the future too much. Everyday, at some point, I look at my six years old and wonder: what if he is still doing this when he is an adult?
And because of that, even though he has autism, even though his understanding is still very limited and he has no speech at all, even though he has Neurofibromatosis type 1, and even though he is mentally much younger than his age; I have to discipline him at times.

But before I use discipline I stop for a moment and ask myself that question…what if he is still doing this when he is an adult? Because the answer to that question is what helps me decide if I need to intervene or I need to understand more.

I think it is important to remember that underneath every diagnosis my son is just an ordinary child who at times will push the boundaries and break the rules. Just like any other six-year-old he will react to being told ‘no’ and will want his own way at times. And I actually find myself getting excited when I see that. Seeing ‘normal’ in a child with such complex needs as my son is something to celebrate. But I must keep thinking of the future…

He is my son. He has special needs. And I could spend all day justifying his behaviour. He is lashing out due to frustration, he is licking the chair for sensory feedback, he is throwing things because he likes the noise, he is screaming at me because he can not talk, he is whining because he finds waiting hard…and so on.

But while it is tough dealing with some of his behaviours at six, how would I be able to cope with them at 16 or 26 when he is taller than me, stronger than me, and able to overpower me? How would I feel if he bit a support worker, or a teacher, or threw something of great value belonging to someone else? Could I stand up in court and argue his imagebehaviour is all due to his needs? Quite possibly. Because his needs are profound. But I would prefer to not have to do that.

So sometimes he finds himself on the naughty step…

Not for flapping, or spinning, or watching the same 10 second clip for the hundredth time. Not for endlessly eating mashed potato and gravy, not understanding when he needs changed or waking up through the night. Not even for wanting to go to the lifts when we are out, standing staring at the door frame when I am trying to get into the room, being unable to sit on a seat or any of the other behaviours he has relating to his conditions.

What if he is still doing those when he is an adult? Well those would just mean he still has autism and NF, which of course he will always have.

But scratching his sister in anger, throwing his iPad across the room in temper, biting, hitting, kicking, deliberate defiance, and deliberately destroying things his sister is playing with…well what if he was still doing these when he is an adult? I have to train him like I would any other six-year-old. He needs to control his temper like any child and find ways to communicate that are less violent. I need to lead the way and show him. It is a challenge for us both.

We sit together. Learn together. And when it is over we hug together and make amends.


What if he is still doing this when he is an adult?

Well, I will be the proudest mother alive!