By Kim Stagliano
There's (a love) life beyond little boxes of Valentines and a sack full of red dye laden candy arriving from school with a child today. Many of our kids are growing into teens and adults. Some are already there. And that means teen and adult topics. Two of my girls are teenagers. One of them is very vocal about her crush on Taylor Lautner. We celebrated his 20th birthday on Saturday. (I felt fossilized!) If you've read my memoir, you know G likes to carry transitional items. The manatee turned into a book of emotions, which was replaced by a family photo including a cute older cousin, who was kicked to the curb by a cute 7th grade boy in her yearbook and then an 8th grade boy in the next year book and now? TAY-LOR. It's natural. See the photo? That's the US Weekly magazine Gianna now carries. (I bought 8 more copies last week.) And you can see a bottle of Love's Baby Soft perfume - remember that from your own girlhood? We had sleep issues a few weeks ago - serious ones - and a Taylor Lautner iron-on transfer onto a white pillow case assuaged her fears. You gotta be creative right? But you also see on her pillow Spot the dog, from the children's stories. We're a mix of teen and toddler in some ways. The girls still love Sesame Street (and so do I) for instance. Such are the differences of growing up with autism.
We have a lot of work ahead of us clearing tall trees in virgin (pardon the pun) territory regarding adult life, socialization, human emotions and yes, maybe even sex. I'd like my children to grow into women who can experience the joy of a full human relationship. Should I simply assume they are not worthy or capable of that even while they are young and make my life easier by never having to think about it again? I don't think so. Although it's sure tough to think and write about, I promise you.
Our friend Chantal Sicile-Kira and her son Jeremy are publishing a book called A Full Life with Autism that will help families and caregivers delve into these pressing issues. We'll have a copy for you later this Spring.
Each week I see a 23 year old man with autism who is quite verbal at speech therapy. One day he reached out to touch a female in the waiting room. His Dad leapt up, alert. He spoke to his son. I heard the young man say to his Dad, "But I want a girlfriend." His Dad immediately launched into how to speak to a woman and how NEVER to touch her - even in friendship. That father did a great job of respecting his son's desires while trying mightily to protect his son from acting in a way that could go downhilll FAST.
Kim Stagliano is Managing Editor of Age of Autism. Her new novel, House of Cards; A Kat Cavicchio romantic suspense is available from Amazon in all e-formats now. Once purchased, you can lend the book to a friend using the new Amazon lending program. And you can download to lots of devices - iPhone, computer, Blackberry, Droid and more.Her memoir, All I Can Handle I'm No Mother Teresa is available in hardcover, paperback and e-book.