Monday, November 30, 2015

In conversation with MO!

For those of you who have read ‘Wrapped in Blue’, my book about raising Mo, you already know that he is in a boarding school in England since last year. And to those of you who have not read it as yet…please do so J. Anyway, as part of this blog, I want to share with you what I am learning through Mo as he grows up in an environment that is providing him the kind of support that  I hope will help him achieve his potential. Of course all individuals on the spectrum are unique and different from each other and will have their own trajectory in terms of progress and growth, but we can learn from each and everyone of them.  Through our sharing about our kids we can gain further insight into this perplexing cluster of symptoms that constitutes ASD.

Being Mo’s mother I am always looking out for progress and signs of change especially since he is abroad. I continue to learn so much about autism through him, through the once a week Facetime that I manage to squeeze into his busy schedule.

Mo who is now 18 years old will soon be an adult and as such these are the years of his life that will determine to a fair extent his future, the path he will choose to follow in terms of his vocation and how he will achieve the goals that he has set for himself.

Below is a transcript of my yesterday’s conversation Mo:

Mo :“Mama why are we not going to Pakistan this winter?”
Me:  “Moeez because since you can’t travel by yourself we have to be with you in London and the holidays are not long enough for me to do a pick and drop to Pakistan. Do you think by next year you will be able to travel alone?”
Mo:” No I don’t think so”.
Me: “Not ever?”
Mo: “No I don’t think so”.

After a while:

Me: “ So how is it going with the visits to the town centre, are you able to go by yourself?”
Mo: “ No not yet. I am still being followed by Richard (his carestaff)”.
Me: : “Ok, a year and a half left before you graduate and then you will come back and live wih us.
Mo, freaking out, “ No no no I want to live here for ever”.
Me, a bit offended, “Mo you have to come back you know”!
Mo, resigning himself to the inevitable, “Okay, but please make sure I have a job. Okay mama promise I will have a job, okay?!”
Me: “Of course you will my darling”.

What really took me by surprise in all of this was that Mo has developed enough insight into himself to realise that independent travel may never be an option for him and my questioning him about it repeatedly did not upset him which is quite contrary to our past  exchanges. He is maturing into an individual who is comfortable with his weaknesses and cognizant of his strengths and though I am no one to put a cap on what he will or will not be able to do in future, his self awareness is essential for his self esteem and confidence. Before he left for England Mo was in denial of his diagnosis. The ‘I am not autistic” and “you’re embarrassing me by calling me autistic” phase began around his fourteenth year and quite honestly I was at  loss to deal with it. I wanted him to be proud of who he was because I knew that sooner or later he would have to face the fact that he is different from neurotypicals. But now I can sense Mo getting comfortable with his diagnosis and my last conversation with him is an indication of that.

During this very same conversation I asked Mo if he would like to write for my blog. The usually reply is a straightaway refusal. This time he has promised to think about it J

I am so proud of you Mo and I hope you continue to grow from strength to strength. My one of a kind, amazing son!

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