In our community we often use the term "Neurotypical" (or NT) to mean "Not-Autistic". The term "Neurotypical" means having a typical neurology.
Jack has a sitter three days a week after school. Almost a year ago, we went to an agency (Care.com) looking for someone to "have fun" with Jack 2 or 3 days a week after school. At the time, he had therapy 5 days a week in addition to school and we felt he didn't need another therapist... we just wanted someone to have fun with him... he deserved it.
We interviewed several sitters, found one we really liked and the young lady had to decline days before she was to start. So, I re-posted the ad, and went to a bar to watch a football game one Saturday afternoon. I received a new response... not only was she interested she was in the neighborhood and we met 30 minutes later... and we had our newest sitter.
And the jokes started instantly about how much she looked like us. "We didn't know you and Julie had an older daughter" "Is D your sister or Julie's?" "She's too young to be Jade's mom" and we laughed along.
What we didn't expect was to gain a family member. What we really didn't expect was for Jack to gain a role model.
You see, D is an adult living with ADHD. She told us when she interviewed with us and Julie and I had the same misguided thoughts we had before about adults with ADHD. But this was different. It wasn't a buddy of yours forgetting where their car keys are and saying "must be my ADD" or not remembering a name of a friend and saying "must be my ADD" or finishing one of your sentences and saying "must be my ADD". She was not self-diagnosed and, in many ways, was very like Jack.
We had a lot of challenges with Jack taking his medication back in the day. One of his concerns was that no other kids took Ritalin to go to school. He discovered that Billy Joe Armstrong (lead singer of Green Day, and his hero) did, and that worked for a bit. But then he discovered that D did as well. Now he had someone who understood. We encouraged the two of them to talk about it as much as possible.
And they did.
We weren't looking for a therapist... yet we found one. She often asks us what she should do in situations. We told her her instincts are always right... because they always are.
They're rough on each other at times. I've listened to them argue through homework. I've seen him sent to his room for bad language. I've counselled D when she didn't know what to do.
But there is always a love and understanding between those two that I never understood.
A few weeks ago, D posted something very simple on her Facebook page... one word really.
I am learning through her what I can not through myself. She is very open about her own diagnoses. I'm learning what adults with ADHD are. I see the signs once in a while. I test her once in a while. I watch her use self-focusing techniques (she might not know that I see them). I watch her guide and inspire my son.
I pick her neuroAtypical brain all the time.
Most importantly, I watch the two of them enjoy each other.
Julie and I had the pleasure of meeting D's parents. They came over for a brunch one weekend when they were in town. I don't think we thanked them enough for how wonderful a job they did raising her. They told us how much D was like Jack at that age. They may have given us a glance of our future with the boy.
And for the first time in a long time... Julie and I were hopeful.
There is so much to learn about our kids from adults on the spectrum...
The neuroAtypical spectrum.
Thank you for loving my boy and teaching us so much.