The conversation started with "I need laundry detergent" and ended with "I don't want to be independent".
Over the years the words have changed but the meaning is always the same. Something is not right in Alex's world. Alex handles information differently than I do and differently than her siblings. This does not mean her feelings do not get hurt or she does not recognize when something is not fair - it merely means she needs time to formulate the language needed to share her hurt.
In the past I have written about processing emotions the Alex way. For instance, when Alex's grandfather passed away she decided staying at O'Hare airport instead of heading home would make her feel better. When Alex did not get into her number one college she blamed it on down syndrome instead of the huge number of applicants for the ten open spots.
When Alex is upset - there is ALWAYS something else going on that she is not vocalizing. I know Alex is not upset because she does not have laundry detergent. I suggested she go to the store and get some detergent, or perhaps borrow from her roommate. Her response is always the same when I know she is trying to think through what she really means, "that won't work". Arguing with her during her these discussions always ends with Alex saying something she does not mean. In this case she does not want to be independent.
As an aside, my husband and I have spent years trying to understand why her final threat is actually self punitive. I know Alex wants to be independent more than she has wanted anything in her life. She is proud to be in college and happy to be away from me.
My theory - Alex had her feelings hurt or felt left out of a roommate activity. Perhaps one of her three new best friends inadvertently said something that hurt Alex's feelings. I do think she is homesick and overwhelmed getting used to a new environment.
I also know Alex will get over whatever it was that upset her and maybe I will learn about it and maybe I won't. I am also open to the possibility Alex will stay upset and college may not be right her her, only time will tell. I do know I will never completely understand what makes all three of my kids tick.
If you have not liked our page, it is a good way to stay on top of the ups and downs of college for a person with a development/intellectual disability. I have no idea what is going to happen....but I will share the good and the bad. Please click on "The Ordinary Life of an Extraordinary Girl" now.
One more thought...if you have a younger child and you are getting notes from school about non-compliance or lack of focus, think about what that really means. Many of our kids develop language later and can only share unhappiness through behavior. Please look further, your child is very smart and trying to communicate in a way that makes sense to him/her not the teacher or aide.
What a great post. I wonder if Alex might like to know that the first five weeks of college are the very most important for any student. It's in those first 5 weeks that most students make up their mind to stay or or to leave. For all students. All students who go away (ok, maybe there are some wildly unlike the others) battle homesickness and the desire to escape. Colleges with great first year experiences know this and work with students in this. So...sounds to me like Alex is a typical college student! And that makes me so excited to hear. Ok, so I know Alex will have her own unique set of challenges. But I love reading your FB page and your blog. I work at a university and a year ago had a daughter with DS. I don't know what my daughter will want to do, but I hope that if she wants to go to college, she can. And Alex is an inspiration--as is your parenting and loving and sense of humor. Thank you!!ReplyDelete
Hi Kimberley - thanks for the tidbit of knowledge about college! Congrats on the birth of your daughter - I hope she is healthy and you are already enjoying tons of laughs with her. Thanks for complimenting my parenting - it is always a guessing game!Delete
Love what Kimberley stated and feel the same! Our oldest, typical is heading off to college. I hope to learn from it and Alex as Dev (now a junior and has DS) is exploring "what's next"ReplyDelete
Thanks for the insight
I love reading about Dev! She will do great when the time comes. No need to rush, it happens way too fast :)Delete
Gary, I am so thankful for your posts and suggestions. I feel for Alex - I remember being so excited to be at college, but also overwhelmed by being so far from home.ReplyDelete
Thanks for the note! I remember drinking beer and paying foosball when I first went to college- thankfully Alex has not discovered that yet!Delete
Being in Ohio is a lot further than CU where Tom is. And having you and JB around for 20 years gave Alex a lot of reassurance. I really think she'll be fine, if she can stick it out for a while. She is very lucky to have this experience and I truly hopes she sticks it out. I can't wait to continue reading about her.ReplyDelete
My gut tells me she will stick it out...Fingers crossed!Delete
I'm not sure if this will get posted twice.ReplyDelete
Alex has had 20 years of you and JB being there for her, and it gave her a lot of reassurance. She might be feeling homesick, and a little envious of Tom being in CO for college. I hope that she will decide to stick it out. She is getting to have an experience that was never imagined not that many years ago for DS students. I am super proud of her, and brag to my friends all the time about Alex. I hope she will find a confidant at school that she can open up to--maybe a counselor or a roommate.