For anyone who missed it, the word for today is PROCESS. See, now I'm shouting. You can always tell what kind of week it's been if you're shouting by Wednesday.
So, RT Teen, fellow aspie, artist and person extraordinaire, is going to a new college in a nearby city. He needs to get there and back on his own and do all the little, important things which non-aspies take for granted. In other words, he has to connect with the real world without real-ectifrying himself.
He started at the college last week, so as part of the preparation for independent travel, I drove him there a couple of times, doing a reccy of the train station he would be using, tracing the routes around the city, finding out the best way to get to college and so on. An important part of this is the minutiae of city life, such as knowing which side the traffic will come from when you cross the road and which side streets cut out whole swathes of walking.
We picked out landmarks, such as the Aga shop with teapots made to look like little stoves with food on top (all right, I picked that one out. I so want a stove teapot now). We admired the smell from the biscuit factory and memorised the road name he needs to find if all else fails.
At the station, once we were ready to do the journey by train, it was a comedy of errors. I'd forgotten I didn't like train stations until the minute before we had to use one. So, throughout our process of familiarisation, I had to fight a feeling akin to when I drive into a dark, scary multi-storey car park.
We did manage this journey, though almost got on the wrong train which would have taken us on a beautiful route across Northern England and into Yorkshire. As we don't live in Yorkshire, this would have been an interesting detour.
So, as you can see, we have hopefully covered the whole journey and, fingers crossed, RT Teen will do it by himself tomorrow.
I'm very happy with his progress but, as the days have passed since he started last Monday, I am feeling increasingly aeriated with the people around me who think that he should be able to hop on a bus or a train and do the journey by himself from the start.
Let me be clear: anyone who knows him, knows he is an aspie and most of them have known him his whole life. Since when was RT the kind of person who could switch off his aspieness and suddenly manage, as if by psychic lightning-bolt, things he has never done before?
Day by day, people have assumed he's going to college on his own, has been 'popped' on the bus or train at my end and left to it. He is an aspie, he's always been an aspie. He gets his sense of direction from his mother and takes the disconnect from real-life to a whole new level.
He does not, by virtue of reaching voting age, suddenly know what other people know. If it was really like this then we'd all be automatons who could download a new program when we wanted to do something (tempting, isn't it?).
He. Is. An. Aspie.
I've had to say this as if it was news and then endure the pause while the other person tries to work out where I'm going with the statement and what it has to do with RT going to college or their comment that he'll 'soon get into the swing of things if you let him'.
Readers, if I was to leave RT to get into the swing of things, he would be in Bronte country by now, possibly holed up in a Yorkshire tea room somewhere, being looked after by friendly old women, feeding him cake and asking him when he's going to have his hair cut.
Every day people have expected him to be going alone by now, when what we've been doing is working through the whole process so that he reaches a stage of travelling independently without panic. If something goes wrong, he needs to be able to fall back on the other things he has learnt about his journey.
It is a process, I've said, over and over. A process.
I've tried to explain where we are in the process and again, that moment of silence where their image of a teenager doesn't match up with the idea that RT planned out landmarks today and worked out which subway to use.
If I have to tell one more person about the process, I may just scream. Tomorrow, he'll go by himself. He'll follow the process we built up over the last week and a half. And he won't panic because he was a part of that process and not simply thrust into the situation and expected to manage.
Sometimes we all need a little bit of process in our lives, even those people who think the lives of others are like pop-up cards, all merry and ready to use. And after helping RT get ready to take this journey alone, I've also realised how much the process has also helped me.
From now on, when I do something new, I'm not going to wing it and tell people everything is fine. Instead I'm going to say, 'I'll get the hang of it eventually, it's a process you know.' And let them fall silent if they want, I'm done explaining.
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