For the fourth Thursday now Hayden and I have made a trek together to NE Seattle. I’ve been hesitant to write about them though. I’ve written a little about Hayden before but as he gets older I worry about how much I should share.
School has gotten a lot better for him over the past couple of years. Redmond High School has done a lot to help him but I think a bigger part of his success has come from him. He’s really begun to mature and grow. Part of that growth has been in his social awareness. Being on the PDD/ Autism spectrum he just didn’t care much about having close friends. He was content for many years to just have acquaintances and invite the occasional friend over to play in the same room but interact with very little. He conversed better with adults because they were willing to listen without giving much feedback.
Hayden now wants to hang out with and talk to kids his age. He wants to date and have a girlfriend. But being socially stunted this is proving harder than he thought it would be. At school he attends a social skills class but hates it. He says he already understands everything they teach. I have no doubt that Hayden understands most social norms but he has no practice in using them. Trying to help him understand this has been difficult. He thinks that because he knows what we’re trying to teach him he should just be able to act appropriately. He doesn’t understand that changing habits are not that easy.
Hayden also struggles with having a diagnosis. He doesn’t like being told that his brain doesn’t work like normal, or at least like most people’s. And I can’t seem to get him to understand that "normal" is probably not as common as we would like to think. We have no clue the things that people around us may be dealing with and that they probably cope with and cover up with meds.
I’m not great with verbal communication so I get very frustrated talking to him. Enter some outside help.
Hayden’s pediatrician referred him to Seattle Children’s Hospital for a revaluation and to get some advice. This happened to coincide perfectly with a social catastrophe at school so having someone outside the situation to talk to was very helpful. After the evaluations and a few one-on-one sessions though, he was referred to Seattle Children’s Autism Clinic for group meetings. His psychologist wanted him to attend a teenage boys group that met once a week hoping that this could help him to make new friends. He was up for it but a little hesitant, I think because of the name "Autism Center." I think that really bothered him.
He’s discovered though that these other teenagers are pretty cool guys. They’re a little quirky like him but he has plenty to talk to them about. We’ll see how long he wants to go and what kinds of things he learns. I’m hopeful that this will be a good experience for him.
I love my Hayd. He is unique in so many ways and has so much to offer the world. I call him my “easy teenager” because his issues are not the typical teenage issues. He doesn’t question everything we tell him and wants to live the gospel with a sincerity that I will probably never get to.