How Did You Get To Be Twelve?

It’s the one thing almost every parent can unanimously agree on: the time with our children just flies by.

Jackson will be turning twelve this week.

I think to myself, how on earth is he already twelve?

I don’t know that I can top this article I wrote about Jackson or this one. They arguably say the most in the best ways that I can express them.

And this past year has been no less remarkable but in a very different way.

Jackson is still much of what he has been: sweet, happy and loving. He still loves Lego’s, movies, singing and dancing. He is still blissfully unaware of the world around him.

A client of mine recently asked: Do you think he’ll ever really communicate?

And my response was: No, he will likely never hold a conversation.

By and large, I think I’m growing accustomed to that. He still knows how to express himself, even if it’s not in conventional ways.

As Jackson nears his teenage years, we have been mentally preparing for the hormonal changes that invariably happen with children as they near pubescent age.

One thing his mother and I were told by the director at his special needs school was that the Jackson we’ve grown so accustomed to could be very different when he hits puberty. He may not know how to express what’s happening with his body.

While I do believe we still have time before those changes really start to take effect, one thing that has been increasing over the last year is some heightened degree of anxiety.

Last summer, he was prone to bouts of overheating and stomach aches. We started to wonder if he was getting anxious about something. He would drink water more frequently and it would take some time for his system to calm down.

As the weather cooled off throughout the year, this became less of an issue.

He has also become more vocal about what he wants and doesn’t want and the fact of the matter is that his little brother, Sebastian, admittedly adds to Jackson’s anxiety.

It’s difficult to interpret the dynamics between my boys: the (nearly) twelve year old on the autism spectrum and the two year old who is neuro-typical. How much of what goes on between two boys with such a disparity in age is simply because of the age gap and how much is due to the barriers in communication?

It’s hard to say. Jackson is comparatively more withdrawn and more introverted. Sebastian is arguably more animated and social.

I’m still fascinated to watch the two of them together. Sebastian loves Jackson. He loves being around him and, more often than not, he just wants to be near his big brother. Jackson, conversely, likes having space to himself.

I think this next year will unveil even more interesting things about my big boy. Before we know it, he will be mainstreaming into a public school where he will require the assistance of an aide to help him get through his day.

This is just a little tribute to the child who has taught me more about patience, compassion and tolerance than almost anyone else in my life.

And yes, time truly has flown by over these last 12 years.

When I write next year’s tribute, it will be to a teenager…

Jackson, you remain a hero to me. There isn’t a day that goes by that you don’t make all of us so proud of you.

Happy Birthday, my sweet little man.