All my twitter friends know that my oldest son started his sophmore year of college yesterday. They know about my angst and worries that everything should go well. The issue we had with finding a really good aide for him was a subject of many a blog. Happily we found a wonderful person from the school of education who has a child on the spectrum herself. She came ready and raring to go. My son not so much. But he had a great day. Of course, for some reason I became the paragon of "evil meddling mom" again. I hadn’t even spoken to him all day. I did not text, nor call nor call the aide. Have no idea where that came from but if you can’t be cranky at your mother who can you be cranky with. So we got past it and he started to organize his studies. He told hubby that he is just really anxious on how to organzie everything. Luckily hubby also said that he couldn’t take it out on me. So he grudgingly only grunted at me a few more times and then went on his merry way.
But I had begun to think how things are going to be a little different for him this year than last. Apart from the fact that he does know his way around campus, and how to advocate for himself and with whom. he even had the classroom rules down really pat yesterday; he needs to make a friend. Now Aspie parents know what trauma that involves for our children. Psychologists thought for decades that aspies just didn’t want friends, until they came to realize that its not that they don’t want, its that they don’t know how to make friends. Besides the fact that so many of our children are turned off from friends because of being bullied so continuously throughout school. If people were constantly mean to me I wouldn’t want anything to do with them either. (See, first blog Bullying. It gives ideas on what has worked to help your child and sources where to go for help).
Anyway I began to think how I could help push him a little. I had also written about his life skills/college coach and how we have found this intervention to be really helpful for him. Well, she told me that he actually admitted that he did want friends. So of course, "here comes mommy." It is harder for him to make friends because he lives at home. I know that most students in college make friends ffrom the dorms, and hanging out in the gym or joining sports teams. But I thought that if we could get him to join a club, despite the morons in the history club from last year who blew him off (see earlier blog) then he would have a chance to meet some more students and maybe find someone he has something in common with.
So, I mentioned the anime club. He loves to sit and watch You Tube reruns of DragonBallZ and read his managas so I figured why sit alone. Why not sit with other students and watch the dvds or videos together. The he found out that it was on friday nights. Well, he didn’t want to go. We had a talk. Sometimes I have to remind him that a 19 year old should not be content to stay home with mom and dad on a friday night. Hubby is always talking about pushing him out of his comfort zone and that is what is going to happen. So I told the collegeman that he had to try it at least once. If he didn’t like it then he didn’t have to go back. That seemed to be a good compromise.
Then I see he sent an email to the girl who runs the Jewish Students Union. No problem there for me, except that he wrote the email as if he was cross examining her on the witness stand. I told you he was going to be a lawyer. We just have to wait for her reply. Yep I guess he is going to get the reputation of being a lttle high strung. That’s ok. Those who know him already know how smart he is, and maybe that will lend itself to new opportunities as well. There is also, the club fair on thursday. I am going to take him because the aide is done by then. I will keep my distance and allow him to wander. Or maybe he could start with the clubs he has inquired about. I will ask him if there are any clubs he wants to find out about first before we go. We do have a list.
A second idea I came up with is that he should eat in the cafeteria. he had practiced that with the coach this summer, but he seemed to go back to his old ways of eating in the cafe. but that’s not bad either. I just felt that there might be more opportunity to meet people from his classes if he is in the cafeteria. But I think with so many people in school, there may be a bit of sensory overload in the cafeteria. We will have to play that one by ear, as they say.
The aide did say that she would get him to start talking to othe students before and after class. In fact, she found him talking to a girl in one of his classes already. How great is that! I think that is a good sign that he wants to talk to people. Now we just have to remind him of the give and take of conversation. I’ll mention it to the coach and therapist. But I knew there was a desire, just not the know how. But he sees that the students at his college are nothing like the students at his high school. It took last year for him to realize that there are nice people to talk to and who are happy to talk back to you. Luckily he learned that lesson earlier than alot of aspies do. So its ok that it took that year.
I have to tell you that I did have a third idea, and I hope it works out. I had him register for an acting class. The description of this class talked about life skills and interacting with people. Its not a social skills class for aspies, its a class that teaches these skills to the average college student. So now he will see that eveyone has to learn and practice what society expects of them. He may not be so reluctant once he realizes its not just him, its everyone, even those without aspergers who have to lean how to behave. I figured that if he went to the acting class he could absorb some instruction and be able to apply it to his everyday world. That having these tools might give him more confidence to approach people and then interact. Once he has those skills I truely believe it will give him that much needed ability to go out among people and join the social world.
So this is my new goal for my collegeman, apart from helping him become independent in a work-a-day world, I realized he needs the skillset to make friends in order to be truely independent and successful in life. I think he is on his way for both, because each skill begins with a desire to learn how to acquire that skill. The desire he has and there are many people out there helping him become successful. So, onward and upward into our sophmore year we go….
Until next time,