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Becoming a “Typical” Teen at Just the Right Time

Becoming a

I’m starting to write this post at 9:30pm on a chilly Wednesday night.  I’m sitting on my couch in my underwear eating frozen pizza while watching “Curb Your Enthusiasm” and writing this.

I am home alone.  The king is with his mom tonight.  I had him Mon & Tues nights this week, she has him Wed & Thur nights and then we alternate the weekends.

4 months into our separation (read about it here) & living apart and I’m still not entirely used to this.  When he’s not with me, and I’m not busy, things just feel a bit odd, especially during the week.  I get home from work, and feel like I’m supposed to be doing something!I wrote about it a bit a few weeks ago on my Autism Daddy Facebook page:

Some mornings when he’s not with me, I wake up in a jolt and think “is the seizure monitor on!  did i miss something!”

However, this post isn’t about me.  It’s about him.  And as I said in that Facebook post, he is handling everything extremely well.

I say that with happiness & pride, but I also with a sense of fear and dread.  I’ll explain that in a bit.

But you’re probably wondering: what’s this blog title about him becoming a typical teen all about? …

Before I begin that story I should mention that I recently re-arranged his bedroom and got him a new tv up with a DVD player & a Roku connected to it.  It is slightly more age appropriate for a 14 year old.

Ok, so here is the typical teen story.  Since the separation when the king is with me he’s been his usual easy going self.  He’s been very affectionate with me, which is normal for him.

However, at some point every evening he grabs his ipad, then takes me by the hand leads me to his bedroom, takes my hand to put it on his tv.

I put his tv on and start one of his favorite shows.  He then takes me by the hand, leads me out of his room… and then closes the door in my face.

He kicks me out of his room!!

So, I go downstairs to watch tv or eat dinner, all the while watching him on his seizure camera.  And he is lying on his bed with his hand down his pants, while watching a show on the tv and youtube videos on his ipad at the same time.

Now does that sounds like a typical 14 year old or what?  He wants nothing to do with his lame middle aged dad, he just wants to sit in his room all day doing his thing!

There was one night a few weeks ago the NY Yankees were still in the playoffs when I watched the entire game downstairs while he watched his stuff upstairs.  I would, of course, check on him, and he was pleasant and happy to see me, but I could tell he would rather I leave!

What a typical punk ass teenager!  Now here’s some things that are not like a typical 14 year old.

The show he’s watching on the tv?  Dora the Explorer

The youtube videos he’s watching? Sesame Street videos.

And when his show ends or he gets stuck on some other non Sesame youtube video he needs dad to come up and reset the tv & the ipad.

However, the behavior, and the aloofness is just like a typical teen.

And in my mind it couldn’t have come at a better time.  I was worried about how he was going to handle the separation, and how he was going to handle living half the week in one place, and half the week in another.

And maybe him wanting to be more independent, more on his own is a defense mechanism.  Maybe that is his way of dealing with this crazy new normal.

And if he wanted to stay in his room all evening and looked unhappy or angry I’d be concerned.  However, it’s not like that.  He happily hangs with me for a few hours each evening, and then he happily retreats to his room to be alone for a few hours.

So I am thrilled!

So what’s that sense of fear & dread I mentioned earlier?

Well, I’ve been living this autism lifestyle long enough to know that the bad times don’t last forever, and the good times don’t last forever.  The other shoe always drops.

So, as easy as the king has made the transition of this separation on his mom and me, I fear for when he goes thru a rough patch… whether that be a rough patch with his behaviors, or a rough patch with his seizures.

I wrote in my separation blog post 

Maybe in a weird way our kid having autism and epilepsy kept us together longer than we would have if we had typical kid(s)

I honestly think that the reason that this is happening now is that the king is finally in such a good place with his health and his personality, and his school situation.

He is in such a good place that we both have had a chance to breathe for the first time in YEARS.  And we are looking around and realizing that we have a lot less in common than we did years ago.

However, what that makes me think about is: what would it have been like being a 50/50 parent years back when he was extremely self injurious?  Or when he was having multiple seizures per day?  Would I or she be able to handle that by ourselves for half the week?

Why am I looking backwards you ask?  Well that’s my way of looking forward.   If (or when) he hits one of those rough patches again, will we be able to handle it solo?  He’s 14 now.  He’s already bigger than his mom, and he’s getting closer to my size every month.   How will we navigate that?

I’m going to stop the fear & dread there.  I don’t want this blog post to focus on the what ifs & the negatives.

I want to end with the happiness & pride.

So let me end it by saying that I am so proud with how he has handled this whole transition.

And I am so happy that he became a typical teen who wants more independence at just the right time…

However, as happy as I am that he’s entertaining himself in his room, there’s some nights when I have to be that overbearing dad who wants to crash the party.

So I will sit on his bed with him watching Dora on the TV and Sesame on the ipad whether he likes it or not.

My dream is for him to some day say, “cmon dad, you’re embarrassing me.  Get the hell out of my room, and go downstairs and watch your shows and leave me alone!”

Ahhh…. A dad can dream can’t he?


Written by

Frank Campagna

I’m a 48 year old neurotypical dad with a 14 year old son with severe, non-verbal autism & epilepsy. I created this blog to rant about autism & epilepsy while celebrating my son who I affectionately call “the king” :-).

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2 People Replies to “Becoming a “Typical” Teen at Just the Right Time”

  1. That's so funny…it's exactly like that with my 13 year old ASD son, down to watching Dora (he's a big Bob the Builder fan too). Your son is a boy to be proud of. It often seems that our kids cope with life's whirlwinds much better than us "adults" .xx

  2. Ah, typical teen, typical Kyle!