As I said before, Ryan does not like change. He likes routine, sameness and feeling like he has some type of control over the world around him. Clearly, no one shared this tidbit of information with his pituitary gland or his hormones. For a child on the spectrum who has an overloaded sensory system, trying to anticipate any changes that may feel like an assault on their system is vital. Puberty unleashes a deluge of changes to the body and there is no control over it. Hair starts popping up in places where only a few months ago there was nothing but soft, smooth skin. Emotions, that are so often easily triggered for a child on the autism spectrum regardless of hormonal surges, roll over their unsuspecting, can't plan for it body like a steamroller. And for boys, well, what's going on "down there", is certainly something no social story can prepare them for (or their poor mother). Let's be AWEnest, boys regardless of age, stage of puberty, different ability, etc seem to always have their hands "down there". They always have a reason or excuse for it too which is kind of funny. Maybe that list of excuses is given out at THE talk as well.
Suffice it to say, that as Ryan's mother I am completely freaked out over these impending changes and the effect it will have on my sweet, unsuspecting son. We have begun explaining the easy stuff, like body hair, bigger muscles and voice change, but I have decided I will leave the more uncomfortable discussions for Dan or Kyle. Yeah, I have no problem throwing my 15 year old under the bus and letting him handle this job. After all, I'm a girl, I can't begin to explain what it feels like to go from a boy to a man. I have different parts and different hormones so I only think it's right that the members of my house who have similar parts have this discussion.
I know the hygiene part of this change will fall on me. I will have to be the one who explains to Ryan that shower nights now have to be every night of the week not just on the current Sunday, Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday schedule and listen to the complaints of how this change in schedule will effect his entire life. It will be good old mom's job to explain that even though putting on deodorant is "tickly" and that the new hair growth in his arm pits may make the application of deodorant feel tortuous his smell without it will be the demise of any social acceptance by his peers (which quite frankly Ryan could care less about it). And when I suffer tremors from the PTSD of potty training days, recalling the horrific fear Ryan had going from pooping in diapers to pooping in the potty, I will summon my patience when I explain that if he is careful, a razor will not cause him to bleed out in the bathroom sink and that although the shaving cream may feel horribly sticky, it makes the chance of blood less likely (AWEnestly, if he knows there is a chance of blood, he will probably be able to fill in for one of the ZZ Top band members, because that razor isn't goin' anywhere near his face).
And most importantly, it will be mom who calms Ryan down as the emotions and feelings he has never experienced before take over his poor pubescent body when his guard is down leaving his already taxed out sensory system vulnerable. This vulnerability will leave Ryan feeling utterly and totally without control in a world where change is not only difficult, it is down right scary. And when the snakes, sharks and bullies whose body changes evoke a surge of testosterone and meanness, hurt Ryan's feelings, pick on him or kick him out of the nest when he isn't looking, it will be me that soothes Ryan's fears, remind him how exceptional he is and provide him a bigger nest where regardless of his size or the changes that have taken over his unsuspecting body and child like soul, he will always, always feel safe.
Yes Bob Dylan had it right when he sang,
"Come gather 'round people
Wherever you roam
And admit that the waters
Around you have grown
And accept it that soon
You'll be drenched to the bone
If your time to you is worth savin'
Then you better start swimmin'
Or you'll sink like a stone
For the times they are a-changing."
Little did Bob Dylan know that my boy is a very strong swimmer and in the moments where Ryan feels like he may "sink like a stone", his mama with her bruised up face from taking hits from those proverbial balls she drops from time to time, can make for one unsinkable life preserver. So Mr. Pituitary Gland, when you release your torrent of hormones on my boy, he will be wearing his soft Hollister t-shirt for comfort, holding on to his life preserver mama for safety, gripping his razor in fear of itchy, scratchy, bleeding whiskers and praying that the new muscles in his back and chest give him the strength to withhold the unstoppable changes from boy to man.