Confession: I don’t feel qualified to do this kind of parenting.
I don’t know if I’ve ever been really qualified to do any kind of parenting–but this phase in life is just strange. I’m not sure how to help J navigate the “neurotypical emerging adult world” because “neurotypical adult world” isn’t made for people who don’t fit the “neurotypical world.”
I’ve also been around long enough to know that the “neurotypical world” is kind of a sham: you graduate high school, you go to university, you get a job, you get married, you buy a house, you have kids, you retire. What “neurotypical world” doesn’t tell you is that you might not be able to get that job with that university degree, or if you do, you might absolutely hate your job. You might not get married or you might get divorced. And that house? I feel like Steve and I just slipped through that economic sweet spot before the economic crash of 2008 and are the last of our kind who could afford a house after graduation (because hello student loan debt and wages and have you seen the cost of housing now? There’s no way Steve and I would have be able to afford a house coming out of grad school with the price of starter homes these days). Kids? Well…that’s a Pandora’s box. Retirement?…
Over the last few month’s I’ve thought about how on earth I’m supposed to explain this neurotypical world to J in a way where he can understand it. He’s not going to go to university, but somehow we need to help him find a job that not only gives him some sort of meaning and fulfillment but can help him make enough money to help him find a comfortable life. Freedom and independence, that’s what everyone wants right? How do I get him closer to that? How do I communicate that to him?
And then I remembered J processes the world best through stories. J’s teachers have written dozens upon dozens of social stories to help him navigate school and the social expectations the school world had for him.
Guess what I’m qualified to do? I’m qualified to write stories.
We’re starting with independence stories around the house, starting with the beginning of the day. Instead of Steve or I waking J up every morning, we decided to introduce J to the alarm clock.
At first, J was really resistant to it. Why? You guessed it “ALARM” clock triggered fire alarms and drills and all sorts of anxiety attached to that five letter word. But we go back to the story, remind him that his radio is set to music, not an alarm, and every morning he wakes up about 15 minutes before the alarm goes off and sits on his bed, staring at the clock waiting for it to go off. Because of anxiety? Maybe…but he’s up, and he’s ready to go, and he’s not having a meltdown over it.
That’s the first story of the day. We’ll keep writing more stories as we go.