Thursday, January 17, 2008

It's a frustrating job,but someone has to do it.

The person that came up with the quote "Raising a teenager is like nailing jello to the wall," was right on the money! Case in point; My daughter Savannah, who is in grade 11 started a work experience program yesterday. Because she has Asperger's her teachers were trying to find something that she would be able to do without having to have too much social contact with the public at the start, but could eventually work her way up to it, if she so desired. We were lucky to find just that kind of position and she was offered a spot a local Tim Horton's to do prep work and a bit of cleaning. It is kind of a coffee/donut/soup and sandwiches kind of place but extremely popular here in Canada. Yesterday was her first official training day and I could not wait until she came home to find out how she did and if she liked the job. I was thrilled when she walked through the door with a huge smile on her beautiful face saying she really liked the people and the day went really well. I was so proud of her and gushed about her to my Mother and my eldest daughter Kayla.

Something must have happened between yesterday and this morning, because my daughter woke up this morning and she was not a happy camper. I tried to cheer her up and commented on how cute her outfit looked on her and no sooner did I get the words out of my mouth she told me in no uncertain terms that it was just a three day work experience and she didn't want to work there. When I tried to question her as to why she changed her mind seemingly overnight, she clammed up and left for her job without saying a word to anyone in the family.

I know my daughter and try and give her as much support as possible because of her difficulty with social aspects, which is very common with kids on the Autism spectrum. The frustrating part of this is that she basically has been given a chance to work in a place where they are willing to be patient with her training as the owner's nephew also has an Autism Spectrum disorder. They are open to hiring special needs teenagers in order to give them a chance to get some real experience in the work force. My question is how to explain to my daughter what a great opportunity this is without making it sound like they feel sorry for her. She had this silly idea in her head just before the New Year, that the only reason anyone would want to talk to her was because they pitied her because of her Asperger's. Working with her speech therapist we were finally able to convince her that if someone spoke to her it was because they wanted to, not because they felt sorry for her. She seemed to finally get the message loud and clear and was starting to acknowledge her peers if they said hi to her, whereas before she would simply ignore tham, which was not gaining her any favor in their eyes. Teaching my daughter social skills has been a very long process and I was hoping that she could use this opportunity to meet new people and even make a few friends. Now this is not too be. I know my daughter and she can be extremely stubborn once she makes a decision about anything.

My daughter can be very frustrating at times like all teenagers, but I have to give her a little more slack than with my other children because of her struggles. With my daughter you cannot get upset with her because she will go from 0 to 100 in one second flat and lose her cool with anyone who tries to tell her she is not making a sound decision. She will then shut off sometimes for days and go into her own little world and refuse to speak to anyone. What is a parent to do? Sometimes the best thing to do is nothing. I can hope she will come to the realization all on her own that she has been given an awesome opportunity and will want to continue working for this business on a long term basis, but I know my daughter and I will not hold my breath. All I can do is support whatever decision she makes whether I agree with it or not. It is not easy being the parent of a teenager at the best of times, but raising a teenager who has Asperger's can be twice as frustrating, take my word for it. Don't get me wrong I love my daughter with all my heart and would not want to change her for the world because she is my greatest teacher and my angel on earth and well worth any extra effort it may take to parent her.

Have you hugged your teen today???

Happy Parenting,


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