While I don’t question that Tommy was ready to leave high school when he graduated, I am now firmly convinced that he needed something after graduation and before any attempts at college. He needed a year of being taught “how” to be a student. Because of the Asperger lenses that filter his view of life, Tommy thinks that just showing up for class is enough. It worked in high school. He has forgotten the teacher and aide who constantly hovered over him and nudged him about doing assignments. He has forgotten his family sitting at the table with him for hours and hours to get projects completed. All he remembers is showing up for class and absorbing enough to stumble his way through tests.
He can’t keep track of assignments and due dates. He misses small details in class discussions that turn out to be vitally important. He doesn’t feel an urgency to get assignments completed. He doesn’t feel any urgency at all. He just shows up. There is no drive, no interest and no connection. What he lacks in motivation, he makes up for in anxiety. The blank disinterest in exhibiting any desire to do well doesn’t begin to hide the stress and misery he is experiencing. My pushing him to try harder is part of his misery.
Other Aspie parents have already experienced this. Some reacted by deciding to take one single college class a semester until they find success. Some reacted by putting college aside and focusing on employment. Some reacted by going on a quest to find the special interest that sparks a fire inside their child. We all want the same thing. We want our extremely bright children to be happy, functional adults. Unfortunately, that which makes them happy, hinders their opportunities to be successful.
I don’t want to keep fighting college with a child who is content with C’s and hope that something will eventually interest him enough to ignite his engines. I am equally unwilling to let him settle in at his current level of immaturity. Sometimes, it all feels pointless. After I am gone, nobody will push him to step out of his comfort zone and interact with the world. So, I search. I search for a new path. The longer I stand still, the deeper I sink into a hole that will slow down Tommy’s journey. Now, how do we get past this brick wall?