Dec 10, 2012 0 Share

Cautiously Pessimistic


Cartoon of man interviewing for job in pajamas.

One thing I’ve never been accused of being is overly optimistic. What some people may call pessimistic, I prefer to think of as being prepared for the worst. We parents of children with ASD really can’t afford to not be prepared for the worst. But sometimes, when things have been going in a positive direction for a while, it’s easy to get swept up in the good feelings, and then be caught completely off guard when something doesn’t go according to plan.

I don’t have a lot to complain about when it comes to Cameron. He’s a great kid, and has truly started to blossom as a young adult. But there are moments when I find myself thinking, “Really? I thought we were past this!” For instance, he recently returned home from school and had apparently left something on the bus, as the doorbell rang immediately after he entered the house. Cameron yanked open the door, snatched whatever he had left behind, and slammed the door. I was standing in the next room, dumbfounded. I said, “Is that how you react to someone who has done you a favor?” To which he responded by yanking the door open, barking “THANKS!” in his gruff tone, and slamming the door again. Yeah, that’s way better. I’m sure his social worker would be thrilled.

I’ve mostly been content with Cameron’s ability to manage his own schedule, and knowing how he needs to prepare himself. I can’t help but test him though. Knowing of an upcoming field trip and the related dress code, I asked Cameron which day he would be going. He didn’t know. I asked him if he was aware of the dress code. He answered in one of those ‘I’m afraid to say no, so I’ll try another answer and see if it works’ ways of his. I think the particular answer he gave was, “I might.” This field trip is to a job developer, and students have been asked to wear interview appropriate attire. The trip happens to take place during spirit week at school … the day in which students are to come to school in their pajamas. Had I not reminded Cameron to inquire about the details, he would’ve shown up for an “interview” in his pjs! But, these mistakes are not life and death situations. If he were to have gone on the field trip in his bathrobe, it certainly would have been a teachable moment.

When I catch Cameron in a situation where I feel he has underperformed, I always wonder if my expectations of his ability to manage his independence are too high. When my confidence starts to falter, I force myself to allow him new opportunities to prove me wrong. This past weekend, he flew to see his dad, and left from a different airport. I was initially tempted to get a gate pass and accompany him to the gate, but made the decision to let him go alone, which of course he managed just fine. I watched him go through security and present the TSA agent with his Metro pass instead of his state ID card. I watched the agent look curiously at the card for a moment, and then she looked back at Cameron. Before she could say anything to him, he had the proper ID card waiting in his hand. He realized his mistake and corrected himself. And that to me is almost better than not making a mistake at all. And so I continue to hope for the best with Cameron and prepare for the worst. He’s making it difficult for me to keep up my pessimistic front.