An Old Worry



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I was considering doing an informal Q & A of sorts, and if that appeals to my audience I can certainly work towards making that happen. This arose from my time at Eyes Through The Glass and the fact that I was well-known for being an Asperger’s Syndrome self-advocate. Honestly, I would love to answer questions from my audience, I always like hearing them.

I was also checking for reblog content a while back and heard a post about a mother who didn’t let her autistic son play video games. That will require a separate response to fully address, but it reminded me of a question that I received long ago.

Since those posts are gone, I cannot produce the original text. As a matter of fact, I cannot remember the question in detail. This is because of the backstory detailing it, which indicated that whatever was being asked needed reframing.

The individual in question was a mother of a seventeen-year-old boy who was either autistic or on the autism spectrum in some form or another.  She refused to let him date. Her question implied it had something to do with his age, perhaps the logic was that he wasn’t emotionally mature enough.

I remember thinking about it. Poor kid. Imagine being barred from social interaction when you’re already having trouble with that. Imagine being forbidden from even trying to form an emotional attachment with another human being. I bet it looms over him all the time.

In my attempts to reason with this person, I gave a simple recommendation. I suggested to her to let her son begin dating. My reasoning was simple, if he did not learn the social skills required to successfully form and maintain a relationship at that time then he would need to learn them later.

He was going to fail, time and time again. Everyone fails until they manage to get it right through a long, unsexy, laborious, and emotionally draining period of trial and error. As I have said earlier, however, it is preferable to a world where things are too easy.

If he didn’t fail in adolescence, he would fail in adulthood. Mistakes that one could make in adolescence could be viewed more charitably, they would not receive that charity in adulthood. Everyone expects you to have worked that kind of stuff out in adolescence. While I’m certain you could pull a case of someone who boasts that they were perfect people in adolescence, most reasonable people would say that they’ve come a long way since then. That’s certainly what I would say.

Like most people, I look back at my adolescence as a period of youthful hijinks (I sound like I’m retired, jeez…) that I would not want to repeat. In some cases, they get at me more than I would like to admit. I would stage trials in my head over crimes with no plaintiffs, as the people who were on the receiving end of whatever I did simply moved on. My foibles did not get me into trouble with the law or authorities, and if I were convicted on any grounds it would be the crime of being human.

Had I not failed, had I not stopped and asked if what I was doing was right or wrong, I would be in the same position I was when I began. That won’t fly at 27, period.

I do not know what came of that exchange. While I would hope that my perspective would be helpful, I also know that to her I was probably little more than a stranger on the internet.

I want to make this point very clear because I’ve seen this an emerging trend. Parents don’t let their kids fail anymore. In the well-intended desire to minimize harm, the unintended consequence is that they no longer know how to bounce back from it.

This is not to say we should throw children to the wolves without regard. However, I think sometimes in the drive to protect them from the evils of our world, they lose the ability to see that which is good. I would hope that was the real takeaway of that exchange.