Asperger’s – A parent’s journey to being grateful
As the parent of a child with Asperger’s, I have gone through a series of emotional stages, and though I never thought I would be grateful, I am.
When I first realized my kid had Asperger’s, I was relieved. I was relieved because there was suddenly an explanation. I had thought that there was something “wrong” with him, but I couldn’t figure out what it was.
Finding out that he has Asperger’s let me know that he is “different” but not “bad.” He isn’t just a kid who chooses not to behave. He isn’t a kid with a mom who doesn’t make him behave. He has Asperger’s.
Then, I was sad. I was sad for all the times that I didn’t understand. I was sad for the fact that others have taught him he is a “bad” kid. I was sad for all the times I got frustrated and lost my temper.
I was also angry. I was angry because even the health care “professionals” did not see. They focused on his “bad” behavior. They focused on what I wasn’t doing to make him better. They did not truly understand that he is “different” and they certainly did not see how great he is.
Today (several years later) I am in acceptance. I accept that my child (now 10) is different. I accept that he will have difficulties. I accept that his school will call about once a week to describe some heinous event.
I am also grateful. I am grateful that I know. I am grateful that I can appreciate the terrific kid that he is and mostly know how to help him through. I do still get frustrated and lose my temper but at least I know what I am doing wrong. I no longer have to feel like I am doing everything wrong – or that I just don’t know what to do at all.
I am grateful that at least right now, he is fortunate enough to have a teacher that gets Autism Spectrum Disorder. A principal that gets it – and both of these wonderful ladies see how lovable he is, how smart he is, and even though they may get frustrated and angry, they still get it. I am grateful that I have enough information to know that there are just some things that we cannot do, and that really we shouldn’t bother.
I was thinking about this because I heard about a convention that I could go to. The convention organizers have a “kid camp.” The children are put on a bus and taken to some activity – a museum, a park, a walking tour…and even though he is 10 and even though he is “high-functioning” – he could not do this. He could not be calm and collected and manage.
He has difficulty with scheduling, he has difficulty with noise, he has difficulty with crowds, he has difficulty with spontaneous activities, he has difficulty with new food… I would not even consider sending him to “kid camp” or any other activity that I could not be at.
This is not because I won’t “allow” it. It is because the well-meaning organizers will not be able to predict and compensate for his “different-ness”. He would not have a good time; I would not have a good time – it would not be best for him. I cannot go to that convention, but that is OK.
Not every kid who has Asperger’s has the same “different-ness”, and not every parent feels the same way. But I am grateful that I have gone through the relief, the anger and the sadness, to be accepting of my life and his life.
I am thankful that I can compensate for his differences and see how terrific he is.