Tuesday, February 13, 2018


Let's play a game, and in that game the rule is, everything I say is annoying and wrong. 

This game is called…The Teenager Game

Here’s a brief round from just the other morning:

FSAM* [cheerful and encouraging]: G,  if you have to stay the whole period for your test but are done,  why not use that time as a chance to bring up your grades? You know, work longer on the test after giving your brain a little break. Or ask your teacher what other work you can do! 

G [ultra-sullen/condescending]:…Do you have to talk to me? 

FSAM [caring, thoughtful, respectful]: Z, The writing program ends in April, right? How is your writing going?  

Z [side eye]: We will send it in in April. 

FSAM [confused and/or correct]: Well…doesn’t that mean it’s over?

Z: [shrug].

The Teenager Game is pretty exhausting. Like any parent with teens, I often wonder how to get through to them. Almost everything I say to them is, quite typically, met with disgust and dismissal. 

By the way, how did they get this “grownup,” anyway? 

When I was pregnant and had begun the long process of worry that is a big part of parenthood, an experienced mother of three grown boys told me something that really helped me through my first few years as a parent: “The odds are with them.” 

It was such a simple phrase, but it truly carried me through some rough moments. One kid would get croup and I’d be up at 3am holding him or her, listening to what sounded like a death rattle in a steamy bathroom and I’d be scared out of my wits. Then  I’d think, “Jill told me the odds are with them! How many babies have croup right now? Lots! S/he’s gonna live!” With each wee bit of independence or separation, too, I would start to spiral. Then I would remember: “The odds are with them!” It was such a comfort. 

But there’s a catch now. The things is, with autistic kids — my son, G, is on the spectrum — the odds aren't with them. Without getting into the precise (very daunting) statistics, people on the spectrum are significantly less likely to achieve all sorts of things that typical people mostly take for granted, like independence, employment, academic accomplishments, romantic relationships, parenthood, health. And kids with behavioral and emotional issues, like those my daughter has struggled with due to her attachment disorder, do so much better in the long term when those issues are addressed in their younger years. 

So in this “game” of teenage disaffection, the stakes feel higher in the Full Spectrum household, as they would in any household with differences and disabilities. I have to get through to my teens, since the things most people take for granted will eventually happen for their kids - independence, mental health - are not a given. I have to tread a fine line between accepting that my children are beastly teens, while remaining alert for any signs of impending disastrophes. At the same time, I have to not have a nervous breakdown?! 

So how do we improve the odds? Ideally, while not having nervous breakdowns, not breaking the kids, without the kids breaking themselves, and while presuming competence for all, we will also be able to encourage them and help them flourish as the unique, irreplaceable, precious beings they are. 

And this isn't a zero-sum game. The more our loved ones with differences are uplifted, the more they succeed, the more progress, acceptance, and awareness for all, right? After all, that’s the whole point of this here blog. 

Stay tuned/bear with me as I approach this transition phase, along with my Meeting Friend, and a few other loving yet terrified parents of teens. I will share input from parents and guardians and individuals who have been there as well. 

Full Spectrum Mama

* Full Spectrum ANNOYING Mama

P.S. FSM has received some good press and stuff lately, and readership continues to climb (at 175,000+ as I write!). I was interviewed, about, among other things, activism, advocacy, and parenting a neurodiverse child as a neurodiverse parent here, at this great site that recommends asking real live autistic people about how they feel and what they want in their lives. Also, I am so honored and excited to have been named a "Top Autism Blog for 2018" - Oooh, I just have to share: "Full Spectrum Mama writes in a refreshingly honest style with beautiful rainbow illustrations that accompany her posts. It’s one of the most unique autism blogs on our list."

Action Behavior Centers

Welcome to Voices of Special Needs Blog Hop -- a monthly gathering of posts from special needs bloggers hosted by The Sensory Spectrum and The Jenny Evolution. Click on the links below to read stories from other bloggers about having a special needs kiddo -- from Sensory Processing Disorder to ADHD, from Autism to Dyslexia! Want to join in on next month's Voices of Special Needs Hop? Click here!


  1. I love this post, adore your blog, and feel like your interview (linked in above) is a must read for all of us parenting "different" kids. Congratulations on being one of the top autism blogs of 2018. That is a much deserved award for such an insightful and thoughtful blog.
    Thank you for sharing your loving wisdom.

  2. ThAts amazing news on your blog :) congrats!;) yup we are hitting those teen stages now too so ... we shall see;)

    1. OOF.
      Say, did you get my email re the hop? I am not sure I sent it to the right address. MY email is jineffable@gmail.com.
      Thanks and love and -what can I offer you for the teen years lol...

    2. I did not get an email :) I will email that addy for next time :)

    3. Let me know if the email got to you:0

  3. I just love your colourful artwork, it really has an impact and helps visual learners like myself! Morgan

  4. You're so awesome! I don't suppose I've truly read
    something like this before. So good to discover somebody with some unique thoughts on this
    issue. Really.. thanks for starting this up. This website is something that
    is needed on the web, someone with a little originality!

  5. Excellent post. I was checking continuously this blog and I'm impressed!
    Very helpful info specially the last part :) I care for such info much.
    I was seeking this particular info for a long time. Thank you and best of luck.

  6. The teenage years are kicking my butt! Thank you for this, gives me hope!

    1. OMG you and me both.

      Thanks for reading!!!


  7. I love everything you said. I know the terror of feeling like you have to get through to your kids because the odds are stacked against them. All while not having a nervous breakdown ourselves— wha?!? And CONGRATS on all your successes!!!

    1. Total nervous breakdown, 24-7.....bwahahaaaaaaa.

      Thanks and love,


Dear Readers, Full Spectrum Mama seeks to honor and represent a Full Spectrum of opinions. All reasonably coherent comments will be published. If you are having trouble posting a comment (for reasons I cannot figure out, most people do??!!) , please email FSM @: