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SAHM of 3 wonderful kids, one brilliant one Asperger Syndrome. This is not a living shrine to his disorder, but rather a place to share & discuss the different challenges that came with it and other things about parenting & life in general.

Monday, November 28, 2011

What are you thankful for? My aspie & his silent Thanksgiving meltdown

Salvation Army Thanksgiving Meal Setting up
How many times did you hear, “List the things we are thankful for.” I know I found myself repeating it to the kids. This year was no different. And thanks to W, I added to my list.

W was set to volunteer at Salvation Army Thanksgiving meal with the community. It was open to the public, but it was mostly for low-income families and the homeless. As I dropped him off to the area, I had to remind him to mind his facial expressions and gestures because there were going to be a lot of people. I concealed my nerves and dropped him off. I only asked him to reply to my text to keep in touch with me. He did just that by texting me until the ceremonies began.

Lack of empathy is something that is described as one of the characteristics of Aspergers. But I see him being too sensitive to others’ feelings, he just expresses it differently than you and I. W looked forward to volunteering with a friend that has been going through a very rough patch. He convinced his depressed friend to join him instead of sulking  at home.

When I picked him up after lunch, he was in high spirits. It was written all over his face. He said there were close to three thousand (I don’t have numbers, but over 2500) were there and served. He saw the major and the television crew.  He served 422 people. He said there were many elderly and children there. They ran out of food, but luckily, they were able to serve all the people that came. There weren't any left for the volunteers.

I could see the excitement in his eyes as he went through the last detail of what happened. He said he never heard people say "Thank You" so many times  and mean it. He said their words felt genuine and real. W had finally felt high you get when you help others. Until now, he has been volunteering because that is what you are suppose to to. But he didn’t realize the kind of high you can get out of doing something for someone else. As an added bonus, his friend was happier for volunteering with him.

But the good feeling didn’t last as the day went on. I didn’t realize that participating in something with so many people and interacting with them would take its toll.

Nothing special was planned. A simple dinner with family was that was left for the day. My parents and my sister along with her sons were coming over for dinner. The little drama began when his aunt asked him to do something, and instead of his usual cooperation, he outright refused and disrespected her. He went to his room and stayed there. The incident isn't as trivial as I describe, but I will leave the details out.

My parents were arriving. We were going to set up the table for early dinner. The simple way to end this was for him to apologize to his aunt. I went upstairs to talk with him and tried to convince him that was the way, and he just clamped down and wouldn’t speak. I was going to give him his space, but wrong is wrong, he would have to apologize eventually.  I hoped we could resolve the situation without my parents finding out, but that didn’t happen. My parents arrived.

I told my mom, who went upstairs to speak to him. He clamped down even more. After 30 minutes, he came down for dinner. His grandpa took him out for a walk around the block and I could hear my Dad trying to convince him to make amends.

We had dinner. But it was the most awkward dinner I had ever had in my life. I could sense the tension. Good thing is that the little ones didn’t notice as we had to put on a gigantic act. When dinner was done, he went outside.

After a talk with his grandpa, he finally apologized, without my knowledge to his aunt. He was nervous and afraid that it was too late and by the time he was ready to apologize, the thing had grown so much bigger, that it was scary for him to apologize. He didn’t think it would be accepted. So the incident was resolved and people went back home.

So what did I learn from today? I realized that W is an Aspie. He is so high functioning sometimes, he lets me forget it until it slaps me across the face. The other lesson is to let your child learn on their own. I learned that I needed to step away and let him learn on his own and fix his own mistakes. I could have forced him to apologize and fix the situation, but I let him get through it. It was painful and uncomfortable for me to watch, but it turned out well in the end. Lastly, W learned the true meaning of volunteering and I could see the joy in his face when he did. I am happy I was here to see him through the discovery.

So what am I thankful for?

I’m thankful for W.

  My aspie.

I told him I loved him, loved having him as my son and I wouldn’t want it any other way.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Matador's shadow - My aspie's take on love...

It has been said that love robs those who have of their wit, and gives it to those who have none. - Denis Diderot

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Not so typical story from a typical aspie on being “Special”

*I typed this out. No edits from me or even grammar check. I thought it wouldn't be appropriate if I touched it. So here is his story. How he wants it to be told. His take on friendship.*

When I first came to this school, it was a random girl that got me introduced to new people. I was seriously anti-social at the time. It was my 2nd year of high school, but it was my first year in this school. She thought I needed someone to talk to.

The very same day, I tried saying hello to the person next to me, and got mistaken for asking him out… @.@

So at lunch, I sat above, well, next to someone sleeping, hoping I didn’t disturb them and thought about how my day was going (not so well).

Feeling despondent, I was about to leave when that same random girl said I should say Hi to everyone and I should sit at her table. And behold, the kid from the last class.

The girl spoke. “That guy over there,” she said, motioning to the sleeping student, “is A. He is a narcoleptic & he is taking a power nap, so don’t be near him when he wakes up.” She continued.
"This is I from your math class and I’m D. You’ve been introduced to the three musketeers.”

     “What? I don’t understand.”  

She explained she had Insomnia, one had narcolepsy, and the other was bipolar.

“I feel sorry for you. I’ve only got Asperger Syndrome.”

“Don’t be. This corner of the courtyard is a sanctuary for all the kids with disabilities. Not officially, but this is our own turf, and a support group. Come here whenever, no one will mind.”

“How long has it been here?” I asked.

“Not very long, most have known each other since middle school. We handle our problems here.”

With the ringing of the bell, I left for my next class. About a week later, I came back again and again. 

Nowadays, over a year later, I have connected with these three and with their support, made many new acquaintances and weathered disastrous crisis.

I am proud to call myself, one of the “specials.”

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Why didn't we think of Aspergers? Hindsight, What-Ifs, & Irony

               Puzzled is how I felt that day, 
                      my Yorkshire terrier.
Of all the forms of wisdom, hindsight is by general consent the least merciful, the most unforgiving. - John Fletcher 
"Why didn't we think of Aspergers?"
A question that haunted me the other day as I drove passed W's old school.

I understand hindsight, I know to reflect rather than dwell and I know how to move on. So why do I let it bother me? You will understand me as you finish this post.

W is a high functioning aspie. His main weakness was his delayed speech and that was the primary focus when he was 3. In order to continue his speech services, the diagnosis was a learning disability. No one, including his doctors could come up with anything else. He was in a regular K class and received speech an hour a day.

A few days later, I made an unannounced visit to his classroom to see how he was adjusting to his Kindergarten class. He was adjusting for sure, but not in the way you'd think. The classroom was made up of small circular tables. I found him sitting in a square desk in the corner, alone, isolated from the rest of the class.

  The only thing this teacher could tell me was that W was not paying attention. She didn't know what to do.  Calling me would have been one of the first options but common sense was not the only thing lacking in this teacher, but I digress. After a brief meeting with the administration, W didn’t go back to this school.

 After 2 weeks of unsuccessful stint at a private school, we found a tiny, brand-new Montessori school connected to another school.

This is where it kills me. The small school was a school for Autistic children. The population consisted of kids representing the whole spectrum.

Was he tested for Aspergers? No. But tests did reveal that he had an high IQ nearing 150. The other aspie characteristics were dismissed as one of those idiosincrincies that came with being gifted. The difficulties were well hidden due to there only having 8 other kids in the classroom with 2 adult helpers. Montessori style of teaching helped him focus on topics that challenged him and he excelled in. They had the time and personnel to spend more time on skills that he lacked. He flourished in this wonderful environment.

The diagnosis came later when we moved to another school where he faced larger classroom and bullying which led to the Asperger diagnosis. I'm not sure how much difference the early diagnosis would've made, but there is no question that he could have avoided some of heartaches that came with bullying. He would have been better prepared to enter the regular classroom. I’m just glad that I didn’t let him skip a grade as recommended by his teachers.

As a parent, you will always have doubts and regrets. It is a part of life. For me, that school is a reminder of what I missed by not paying attention. I take solace in that, I'm not the only one who failed W in getting the diagnosis. But it turned out well. I tried to come up with a theme for this post, it was hindsight, regrets, and irony. But irony seemed more fitting.

If you get anything from this post, please look around to see what you are missing. You could be missing the obvious, because I sure did.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

In words are seen the state of mind & character & disposition of the speaker.

September 2002
This is his water color painting from his art class. W gave his to me when he was 7. I thought it was neat at the time but I was too busy to appreciate it. No matter what was happening, he always managed to have a happy disposition, and seeing this, indeed, he was a content child. (Above quote from Plutarch)