On his own Timeline

As many of you know autistics have developmental delays.  That is usually how parents know and eventually get the diagnosis.  My son talked at the “normal” age but he spoke much less outside of the house.  He wandered around the room at circle time and did many other things that made everyone question what was up.  Back then Asperger’s wasn’t as well known so he was diagnosed with ADHD.

As he entered pre-teen the differences in social skills and executive function became more apparent.  The sensory issues had always been there (the Dr. wouldn’t listen to me but that is a different story) but in the loud hallways of middle school it became more of an issue.  By high school he was so completely different than his peers.  He was more interested in learning about the World War I weaponry than finding a girlfriend.  Pep rallies were too loud and he had no interest in them at all.  When he asked to be homeschooled I agreed.  Why should he be forced to stay there?

I hated high school as well.  I didn’t get it.  I just went to my classes and tried to just ignore the other people.  I disliked a lot of people and found refuge with the wrong group of people.  I suppose I learned social skills by being with people that I was comfortable with.  Over time, in my own time, I have learned how to be a friend.  I am not always great at it but I am better than I used to be.

My son is coming into his own in his own time.  Every day I overhear my son learning social skills with his online friends.   He has improved tremendously with his ability to ask for what he needs.  He will calmly ask someone else on the channel (whatever it is called when they all talk to each other through the game) to turn down their music or to stop yelling.  He will explain it bothers him and has even sometimes told them it is because he has aspergers.  He couldn’t do that 2 years ago.  Although 2 years ago the school told me he needed to be able to do that at that time.  At the time I told the school he should not be compared to the other kids.  And quite honestly he should not be compared to another autistic that is his age.

Before I go further I am not perfect parent by any means.  I find it very hard to know when to “push” him and when to let him be.  My husband is more of a “pusher”, he needs to behave this way.  We have been told to work towards the middle which we both try to do.  Pushing or having high expectations isn’t a bad thing.  In fact it can really cause some wonderful growth.  While I was ill my husband expected more from our son.  There was no choice 1) I was away or unable to do anything 2) my husband was stretched thin & stressed out.  Prior to my illness I would get my son his water and get food when he asked for it because otherwise he would start demanding and yelling.  I guess that is the right word- he was very demanding.  I just let him be because it was easier and I also remember being that way when I was younger.  I stopped yelling at my mom to get me stuff and I figured one day he would to.  From what we all went through the last few months he has stopped.  He gets things for himself and the times he asks us for a meal (sometimes his schedule isn’t on ours) he is very polite, patient & grateful.

Thinking back on my teenage years I remember saying I was not going to college.  I had absolutely no desire to continue the hell I considered school to be.  Nobody could change my mind.  They even tried telling me they would cut me off at 18.  I didn’t care I went and got a job at 16 so I could support myself.  I made decent money as a 16 year old and so my mom was really worried it would reinforce my plans.  The opposite happened.  I worked with people who were a lot older than me.  They were married and/or had kids and trying to support a family on what we made.  They would talk of their struggles.  Being logical I concluded I needed to go to college so that I could have a better job to have a better life.  No amount of pushing from my mother would have changed my motivation.  The motivation had to come from within.

Even with my son over the last few months I wonder if that had happened a few years ago or if it wasn’t so obvious that he needed to step up if things would have been different.  Again I think it is very hard as a parent to know when to push and when not to.  Just last night his grandmother visited and my husband told him he had to hug her goodbye.  I told him he didn’t because I know what an issue hugging is for me.  I think as parents we need to take into consideration what is really most important and also where our child is in development.  What my child is capable of and motivated to do at age 15 is completely different than any other 15 year old- autistic, NT or any other diagnosis.  Things need to go at his pace.

Now that he is 15 my husband has brought up driving and my son has been very resistant.  I finally pulled my husband aside and explained he is never to bring it up again.  My son will learn to drive when he is ready.  If that day never comes well so what.  We live in an area where there is public transportation.  He has been in big cities with us where we used public transportation and he figured it out just fine and he didn’t mind it at all.  So for him right now he doesn’t have the motivation to drive.  And I don’t see the point of pushing him.  I wanted to drive at 16 because where we lived there was no form of public transportation.  I was really scary and got into multiple car accidents until my mid 20s.  Maybe I should have waited myself!!

When my son turns 18 I don’t expect him to magically be able to support himself.  Yes I will encourage college or a job but I don’t want to set him up for failure.  I was lucky that my first bosses were very kind and lenient with me.  I never arrived on time and pretty much always had an attitude.  I didn’t always get along with my co-workers but I rocked at my job.  I know too many people that went to college getting a degree in something they hated or a general degree and then they were miserable.  Once they set out on their own it was difficult to go back to school.  So many people I know that go back to school to change careers.  It seems that 18 is awful young for anyone to know what they want for the rest of their life.

To expect our children to meet these milestones set by society doesn’t seem fair to me.  It is hard not to compare my child to other kids his age but it isn’t fair to him to do so.  I see in my son even more sensory issues and social issues than I had.  I can’t put him on my timeline or society’s timeline.  He is on his own timeline.  As a parent I can encourage, teach, support, love, nudge, pray and hope.  Sometimes he surprises me.




  1. Well done. He will find his way. Some roads are longer than others, but we gain something in the journey.

  2. This is SO true. What a great post and testament to the journey you and your son (your whole family, in fact) are on. Sometimes a kid needs to find their own way, and whether they are autistic or not shouldn’t have to figure into that need, just what is right for the child.

    You go mom!

  3. This blog has made me feel better about the way I treat some parts of my sons life, he is undiagnosed professionally, but having a his younger brother who is (with asd) I realised that R had always been different. Most recently I’ve refused tp teach him to ride a bike, he learns better when he teaches himself and is ready. He did this with swimming, years of wasted lessons resulting in nothing, then 1 weeks holiday he decided he could do it…and did!
    Fantastic blog, thank you x

    • Thank you so much. Yes aspies do better when ready! Sometimes I try to encourage him as to why should learn something, but that doesn’t always work either. I wish you well with both of your sons 🙂

  4. Thank you for your post, it was exactly what I needed to read this morning. My son was also diagnosed as ADHD because nobody knew what Asperger’s was. It wasn’t until this last spring that he was diagnosed with Asperger’s. I wish I had know how to handle this years ago, I’ve spent his entire life being disappointed and angry at him. He will learn at his own pace, because he needs to do it for himself, not me or what society expects him to do.

    • There are lots of things that I wish I had understood earlier. Even though we are so much a like I just didn’t see things clearly. I am really glad that you found the info helpful 🙂


  1. […] work on all of our parts.  We still have work to do.  He makes improvements every day on his own timeline.  I don’t want a cure for him.  Yes I want him to be happy in his life.  I want peace and […]

  2. […] took work on all of our parts. We still have work to do. He makes improvements every day on his own timeline. I don’t want a cure for him. Yes I want him to be happy in his life. I want peace and happiness […]

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