Guest Blog

A Recovering Overbearing Parent of an Adult Autistic Son Speaks

27 May 2015 by Jason's Connection
Image: 123RF.com

From time to time, we like to invite guests to share their stories with us. Today’s guest blogger is an anonymous mom.–Ed.

Yes, my son is high-functioning and yes, his story does not fit everyone’s experience.

But I want to admit it: I am overbearing, somewhat controlling, often anxious and worried for my son who is on the autism spectrum. And I love him, dearly!

But now I realize I have to let him go. Yes, he gets anxious, has difficulty with transitions, sometimes has difficulty reading social cues, and his organization and planning (not to mention cleaning his apartment) leave a lot to be desired, but he is making it on his own!

He has recently graduated college with accolades and honors, but this did not come easily for us or for him. He has had many struggles growing up with just the usual developmental tasks that seem to come easily to his siblings and peers. As a “vigilante mother,” I had to deal with teachers, doctors, and dentists that felt he wasn’t trying hard enough; therapists that tried to fix or change him; and other parents to explain his quirks and difficulties. And somehow when I felt he couldn’t get through life without my support and running defense for him, he has started coming into his own and navigating for himself. I will not kid myself. It has never been easy for him and he has been relentless in his determination just to get by each day—like when he went to school abroad for a semester of college. The transition was not always easy and we had many phone calls about his angst, but it turned out to be a life changing experience for him that opened him up to new friends, ideas, and great travel. It ended up being the occasions of very positive growth for him.

As I listen and start to let go, I can hear him say ”Don’t treat me like a little kid anymore! Yes, I have difficulties but I can learn to manage my life in my own way.” He is now living in his own apartment, enjoying friends and making new acquaintances, works at a fulfilling job, continues to love to travel, and has developed an appreciation and increase closeness with his brother and sisters.

“Yes” he will say, “I need supports, who doesn’t at one time or another?” but he will add that “What I need most is to be listened to respectfully as a young adult capable of making choices and decisions for myself because I know myself best.” Will he make mistakes or errors in judgment? Of course, but I need to be okay with that, otherwise what kind of message am I sending him and others? That he cannot live without me or that he is not capable on his own?

My young adult son has only one life and I need to let go to let him live it. As with his way of taking care of his apartment, or his decision to delay graduate school until he develops his career experiences which are many and diverse, or his desire to ultimately live in another city to be on his own. It is no longer about my worry or my concern. It is his life to assume, and he will find his way!

 —The Recovering Mother