It's been a rough couple of weeks for Alex. From my perspective he is tired, easily angered, having sensory issues (hearing and taste are particularly affected), hyperactive in the evenings and generally disinterested in following any kind of a schedule.
When Alex was young I called this the 'fog'. The fog was something that rolled in every 6 months or so. Alex's sensory system would be working well, he could eat easily, sleep fairly well, be able to focus and do his work with little redirection. Sweet, easy progress. Then it would shift. He suddenly couldn't tolerate sounds, normal food would make him gag, sleep was hard to come by and his energy was through the roof. The funny thing about 'the fog' was that he could still work. Work seemed to focus him. Independent math worksheets or detailed art projects could calm the inner noise and give him relief. After a few months the fog would disappear and he would have another run of calm (or calmer).
After 6 months of great progress were back in a fog, but this time it's different. Alex has a large set of independence skills that continue to exist, but it looks like he's walking through quicksand when he's using them. He's picks up the toothbrush to brush his teeth and then stares at the faucet for 3 minutes. He gets ready to go to school only to crawl back into bed and fall asleep. Instead of washing a table he pulls out a chair and stares at us. It feels like he knows what to do but can't quite make it happen. We have to be more involved to help him succeed but being more involved triggers his frustration. It feels complicated.
Because I don't have Autism (and Alex's language is limited) I'm always looking at this from my flawed neurotypical perspective. I can see the symptoms and I can come up with theories but ultimately what I decide is a guess. I could be wrong. Spend 20 minutes reading blogs by adults with Autism and you will get plenty of examples of advocates trying to help but making the situation worse. I always have a voice in my head saying 'You could be making a mistake.' Sometimes it's like torture but I've learned that the upside to questioning your decisions is that you avoid getting locked into a path. If I'm already questioning my choice it's easier to pick a new one.
I've got at least three possible reasons for Alex's new fog. There is the pre frontal cortex possibility, Alex's decision making and delayed gratification skills could be offline right now but will restart in a few years. I like this option because it means this will eventually end and that I just need to focus on being consistent and patient. The second reason could be hormone fluctuations and puberty issues, I KNOW he is still in this phase. The third possibility is Alex's 'Social/ Emotional Age', this theory says that Alex is 16 in physical years, his social/ emotional age could be much younger, possible much younger, again consistency and good programming will help. Or it could be a mix of all three.
Then there is the possibility that it is me. My decisions could be flawed, I could be missing something important. Alex could be trying to tell me something and I'm not hearing it yet. I'll spend most of this week watching, making notes, hoping I can latch on to some information that will help me decide if I need to change anything. Or I'll spend all week watching and things will work out on their own (it's happened before). It's going to be a long week (or weeks) but hopefully I'll come out of it with information. For me information is the key.