It can be disheartening if our babies aren’t keeping up with their peers. When our young kids have physical disabilities, it’s easier to accept things, like the possibility of delayed walking or potty training.
However, the milestones that society has placed on our teens can be just as disheartening. Especially when your teen has an invisible disability. And when the questions are coming from family and friends.
In our case, it’s our oldest son. He has severe ADHD and Generalized Anxiety Disorder. The minute he turned 16, we started getting the questions. Questions like, when is he getting a job, when are you going to get your driver’s license, what are you going to do when you graduate? Are you dating yet? The list goes on and on. We didn’t have the expected answers to those questions.
We knew that being a year older didn’t mean he no longer needed extra time to develop socially and emotionally. For our family, we thought it would be best for our son to take these large milestones at his own pace. Not the pace set for him by the expectations of others. We believe in setting him up for success. Not failure.
So the best answer for him was, “I’m working on it!” And letting him do it his way and in his own time.
He didn’t get a job until he was 18. And only right before he graduated. He is taking at least a one-year academic break and focusing on his new job skills. We’ve helped him sign up for an Uber account in case we can’t pick him up after work. He is also thinking about going to a driver’s education class.
He has his own checking account, which my husband and I helped him start. We have been teaching him cash management skills and debit card use. We still help him make sure he gets his check deposited correctly.
And the thing he is most excited about is he has a girlfriend!!!
Transition is just as difficult for teens with invisible disabilities as it is for other disabilities. And it will definitely take longer. Our kids, for the most part, are not chomping at the bit to leave home. It takes a lot of practice and patience.
Here is a parent video about how some families have dealt with their child’s invisible disability.
Just when I thought maybe the “autism thing” was calming down. And that maybe I had a few months to catch my breath before researching everything I needed to know about guardianship before my son turns 18. Wham–another big change brought us back to reality.
Support is out there for families of individuals with disabilities–you just have to ask! Take advantage of the community of others who are going through the same things as your family.