anxiety,  autism,  post high school,  post secondary autism,  reading,  reading comprehension,  teen years

2020

I’m not into numbers like J, but 2020 is going to be an interesting year for our Beck family. And I’m trying to keep my 2020 outlook on my family because the year’s barely started and between the Australian fires and the Iran stuff happening (my sister lives in Saudi Arabia, so I’m always nervous when stuff happens out there) there’s some really disheartening things happening in the world right now and we’re only six days into the new year.

So…

We’re heading into that stretch of the “end of childhood and into adulthood” with J, which is equal parts terrifying and exiting. In May, he’ll be finishing grade 11. In August, he’ll be starting grade 12. In October he will be 18 (and I’ll be 40–eek!). Somewhere in all of that we’ll be taking senior pictures (can we just do what Canadians do graduation pictures please? Cap and gown with a studio background. Holding a bouquet of roses if you’re a girl or a rolled up paper diploma if you’re guy. MUCH simpler and a million times cheaper than the mini model photo shoot tradition in the US with multiple outfit changes and locations. We’ll definitely have to find a photographer who will be patient with J’s lack of patience for picture taking–or maybe we’ll do a one and done picture like they do in Canada. We’ll see what J’s up for…) We’ll be looking into job shadowing options and preparing for his transition out of high school and what the next steps look like after that (we’ve started down that path a little already, but I’m still not 100% quite sure what I’m doing sometimes with that). Like I said, it’s equal parts terrifying and exciting.

J at Barnes and Noble, drinking his hot chocolate and eating a cookie. He really loves the fact that he can buy himself treats when he wants to because he has his own money. J and I talked about how great it was he had his summer cat jobs so he can do fun things like this.

And then there’s “regular life” that’s happening right now. This new year has had me reflecting on what I want to recommit to as a parent and as an individual. I’m trying to be a more present and mindful parent (paying attention to my kids when they’re around me without being distracted by other things in the room or the never ending to-do list in my head). I’m trying to separate my work time and parenting time better so I don’t feel guilty paying attention to one and not the other in whatever moment I’m in. So here are the 4 really simple goals I have for helping J grow this year.

1) I’m trying to make his life more fun and purposeful at home. It’s only been 5 days but J and I are back doing piano 10-15 min a day (and he seems to be enjoying it. We haven’t done it since middle school but he’s SO compliant about it and lately he’s been so defiant to do anything extra you ask him to do so that’s pretty big).

2) I’ve pulled out the Lindamood Bell program again to help with his speech and reading (I blogged about the program and the conference I attended in Minneapolis a long time ago. There’s also a super cute video of a 4 year old J talking, so it’s fun to check out ) and am committing 10-15 minutes a day on working with J on that. It’s only 20-30 min total a day more than what we’re already doing, but I think they’re two areas in J’s life that could really enrich his life.

3) I’m also trying to help J navigate his phone better and really understand it as a communication tool (not just a conduit for playing Mario Kart or PacMan). I have to be really intentional in providing opportunities for J to communicate on the phone (Thanks Coach L for helping out with that!). It’s not like it was when I was his age, where all we had was a landline. It’s amazing what kind of phone etiquette skills you learn as a kid even when the landline phone is always for your parents and rarely for you. It’s even more amazing the skills you learn once you become a teenager and all the “social media” you have is tying up the family’s line for hours and having your parents or sister pick up the other end to hint for you to get off.

J sharing his cookie with his sister. That’s one great thing about J, he’s always ready to share whatever he has with you (okay, except for Gatorade)

4) And for 2020 (and beyond) I’m trying to treat J more like an adult. Because of his disability, it’s so easy for everyone (including myself) to treat J like an elementary-aged kid or someone who needs to be coddled and reminded all of the time. But we’re reaching the end of his childhood years and soon he will be legally an adult, and while he’ll still need guidance for the next few years (and probably beyond) he needs to be treated more like an adult. Which means that I need to let him do his own figuring out about things in the areas he doesn’t really need my help. It may take him 10 minutes to figure out (when it takes me 1 minute) what the weather is like and what he should wear for his run every day, but it’s something he should be doing, not me. He should be packing his own extras for lunch, not me. Same with charging his PLD, switching his orthotics into different shoes, etc. I get so impatient or in a hurry about those little things that I just end up doing them for him. But at the same time I’m taking away opportunities for J to be in charge of his own life. And he’s more capable than what I give him credit for.

So here’s the beginning of our 2020 journey. I’m sure I’ll have lots to blog about this year with so many big things coming up, and it will be interesting to see how J will grow and change in the 365 days ahead! And lets hope the world wants to make it to the end of the world too 🙂

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