Life. Love. Family. Our Perfect Imperfection. Living life as a Catholic, homeschooling family with three amazing, unique boys, a too-oft serious, frustrated and anxious but also loving momma, and a fun-loving, hardworking dad.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Another old blog post, one of my favorites

A note about "some kid" ;) with Asperger's Syndrome/Autism

*Originally written on my old blog, November 10, 2011, and shared on my private facebook as well. I haven't updated this one, and there may be some spelling/grammar mistakes.*

When I sat down to write this, I almost titled it "A note about Asperger's Syndrome/Autism" but then I thought long and hard. Every child is different. Including every child with an Autism Spectrum Disorder diagnosis. Actually every person is different. We all have our little quirks about us and things we like or don't like, our own personalities, etc. So this story or note or post or whatever you would like to call it is about MY family, and MY son. I've decided to post this on Facebook as well as my blog. This isn't meant as anything bad. I just want people in general to understand some things.

Let me start with a short background. I am a married mother of 3 beautiful handsome boys. My husband is an amazing man and we've been married over a decade (he says it's been like 30 years, LOL). He is the love of my life and I don't know what I would do without him. Our youngest son is still in utero, to be born sometime at the end of December/beginning of January. How do I know he's handsome then, you ask? I'm just a little biased *wink*. We will call him "J" for the sake of this. Our middle son is 6 1/2 - we will call him "A" for this. A is a smart, funny, neuro-typical boy who just got moved up a grade to 2nd due to his being advanced. He is a great little brother and will be an awesome big brother soon. Now for the main star of this "article", there is our oldest son. "E" is a very bright, sweet boy of 9 (and 1/4 if you ask him!) that happens to have Asperger's/Autism. He is also advanced academically, having just entered 5th grade in September.

This is what I would like you to know though.

Things that are obvious to you, may not be to him. He has a different way of thinking and looking at things. Be patient. Teach him those "obvious" things. He doesn't just learn them by watching like the rest of us.

Things that are obvious to him, may not be to us. Realize that he's not trying to be rude when he says something matter-of-factly. He may not see that you don't "just know" what he does. Be patient and listen to him. That doesn't mean let him be rude. That means listen and then say to him "Even though you may not have meant to, you said that rudely. If you want to tell me something, please do but use a nice tone and words to explain to me." - just as you would do with him when you explain. Again, he has to be taught this. And he will forget and need to be reminded.

He has a sense of humor. It just may be different than yours. He may find something inappropriate funny and you may have to explain why it's inappropriate. He may not get certain jokes, either.

He may not know when to stop talking about something. If you get him talking about his favorite things, he will go on and on. If you want to change the subject, it may be hard to and he may not want to. Or you may want to just walk away. Try not to do that. He has feelings too and you wouldn't like that if people did that to you. Try to gently let him know you would like to change the subject.

He may not seem like he is listening but most times he is. Just because he doesn't look at you doesn't mean he isn't listening. He's just not remembering the "rules of etiquette" for conversation and active listening. Gently remind him that it's good manners to look at the speaker, at least from time to time, so they are aware that he cares what they have to say.

If he says something rude or sarcastic, if he ignores you or doesn't answer right away, if he seems like he's being stand-offish or doesn't like you, just remember he needs you to help him open up. He isn't trying to be mean, he may be overwhelmed or not know how to respond. Don't give up, he wants to know you and for you to know him.

He has a love of maps and drawing. He is smart. He is funny. He loves people to a fault. He doesn't always see if people don't really like him or "get" him because he doesn't understand why people wouldn't like him or somebody else. He likes everybody! He gets upset easily. He gets frustrated about things that wouldn't bother the rest of us. Don't get mad at him. Help him. Be there for him. Talk to him. Don't give up on him. Open your heart and arms to him. YOU have to try a little harder because it's harder for him to try!!

E is a wonderful kid. Everyone that has taught him, taken care of him, taken time to be friends with him and loved him has told me that.
"He's so sweet." "He's so nice" "He cares so much" "He's funny" "He does so good on his work" "I hate to see him so upset"

E is a perfectionist. He thinks he should get something the very first time he tries to do it. And of course that means, when he doesn't, he may lose it. He may have a tantrum or a meltdown. You may think he's just being bad or mom and dad don't know how to control him, etc. No, that is his frustration coming out in the only way he knows how in that moment. Besides, I don't want to CONTROL my children. I want to RAISE them to be happy, healthy, productive members of our society and to hopefully do the same with their own children someday.

I don't kid myself. I know he can be hard to handle sometimes. I get frustrated, angry even. I've yelled more times than I care to remember. I am not perfect. But I don't have to be perfect, I just have to be his mom and love him and try MY best. It seems to be working so far.

It may seem like I'm focusing on the "bad" or "hard" aspects of E's behavior. Maybe I am. But sometimes that is what needs to be explained to people on the outside, even people that are close to us but still outside our little family.

Some of the best things come out of those "bad" things. Like when he has an amazing day at school, even when transitions are normally hard for him. It's something to be excited about. Or when he tells a funny joke out of nowhere. Or when he runs up to his dad when he gets home to give him a hug or asks him to wrestle. When he accomplishes something, even a little thing, that is out of the ordinary or difficult for him, it's awesome.

He's a great big brother to A and has taught him a lot. Some good, some bad, just like any sibling will do. They are the best of friends and the worst enemies when they get mad at each other. I know both of them will be great big brothers to J when he is born. They both already love him so much. I love my boys so very much and just because A is "easier" to get to know and shares his personality with you more easily doesn't mean you should just brush E off. If you give him the opportunity, you will be amazed at the love that kid will share with you!