Bringing up a child with Aspergers to adulthood has proved to be challenging yet spiritually uplifting, frustrating yet laden with positive experiences, self esteem breaker yet self esteem booster, expecting the expected (it is what is is) yet expecting the unexpected (strides, success, inspiration, and developmental growth that was never expected). Parenting a child with Aspergers is learning to perceive individuals from a totally different perspective.
It has taught me to step out of my own perceptual bubble and realize that I must possess a willingness to step into my child’s world and attempt to see things from his perspective. In return, I have set expectations that he attempt to perceive my world as well. It is a reciprocal relationship. If I expect tolerance and understanding, I must reciprocate and embrace my son’s differences as well. Many possess the mindset that when visiting a foreign country they expect the foreigners to speak their language. Yet when foreigners come to America we tend to expect them to speak English. This is a bit selfish in my view.
If we expect a foreigner to speak our language then we must be willing to learn theirs. Society is composed of an array of individuals, whether aspergian or neurotypical. The varied personalities, talents and skill – sets that people possess is the very fuel that propels society to function.
Education and awareness within society is of the utmost importance in living, working and playing with individuals on the spectrum. Individuals on the spectrum perceive the world in a unique, creative and high level style that is theirs and theirs alone. The more we learn from aspergians while teaching them about us with the ultimate goal of living side by side the better off both humans and society will be.
Perhaps we could all start looking at how we are similar versus how we are different. Accept each others differences and harness them to create a more copacetic and positive society. No two Aspergians are alike anymore than two neurotypicals. Like Baskin Robbins ice-cream, humans come in 32 flavors. Embrace that individuality, forget the them and us ideology and replace it with a WE will get more accomplished than a Here is a question and an answer to ponder.
Question: Who is more important, the Physician or Trash Man.
Answer: They are both equally as important. Without a physician we could not TREAT disease and we would perish. Without trash men we would HAVE disease and become ill.
This is just a thought to ponder regarding differently abled individuals and society at large.
The old phrase, “One cannot tell a book by it’s cover” is an appropriate analogy here. I can equate their issues with a cast. When one sees an individual with a cast, they know that individual has a broken bone.
In regards to Aspergers, these individuals look like functioning neurotypicals on the exterior. I have heard the statement more times than I care to remember, “but he does not LOOK like he has Aspergers” HMMMM, what DOES a child with Aspergers look like??? Should they be expected to have a third eye, green skin, warts, drool, and jump around like a Mexican jumping bean perhaps? NAHHH not in the least. Society at large, I share a photo of what a child with Aspergers looks like.
They look like other kids because they ARE kids, just like neurotypicals.
I present a picture of my son as a small boy. My intent of posting this photo is the hope that it dispels myths regarding Aspergians. Yes they have a sense of humor. They say a picture states a thousand words. As is self-evident in this photo, my son presents as a typical child in terms of basic needs, putting Aspergers aside His need to be accepted, loved, understood and most of all, to have society look beyond his deficits to see what a positive character he was and still is.
Individuals with aspergers often struggle to carry on what we perceive to be a meaningful conversation. They tend to have a limited set of interests. When initiating topics of conversation, they tend to focus on factual information pertaining to their interests. This is perceived by many neurotypicals as lacking empathy and being over focused on their own interests.
My observation has been that due to hampered social skills, kids with aspergers tend to initiate conversations with others by accessing topics that pertain to their own interests. This affords them a level of comfort when communicating with others. In reality, they are attempting to initiate communication with others.
Allow the latter statement regarding attempts to communicate with neurotypicals to shatter the validity of the misnomer we have all heard. “Children with Asperger’s are not interested in socializing. While they require solitary time just like any other child, they most certainly do want to socialize and be accepted. They merely struggle in how to do so.
It has been a challenging experience bringing up a child with special needs. I have shed tears out of direct view of my family when we took two steps backwards. However, I have experienced the joy of seeing my son succeed as well.
It has been an honor to watch my son struggle through challenges and experience positive growth. I have been transformed forever. I have and still witness the transformation of a struggling little boy who I perceived would be left behind his peers. I am proud of the man he has become. He forges forward bopping to the peat of his own drummer, yet forward he goes. He may not stride down his path at the pace or direction I wished for him to go. He is walking in the direction of where he needs to go. Where that road ends is yet to be known. I know one thing however. No matter where his road leads, I will watch him stride down it with pride, not walking next to him for it is time for me to stand behind as he forges forward. But if I am needed I will walk by his side in a heart beat.
Many said my son would not graduate high school, he did so. Many thought he would never go to college. He not only did so but obtained a bachelors degree and later attended a one year computer certification program. Many said he would not be capable of socializing with others and carrying on conversations in a social setting. It took 26 years but he is starting to venture out and create a small social circle. I hope this statement gives hope to those with young adults with aspergers syndrome that it may take many years but never give up hope and never say never. Many thought my son would never maintain a decent full time job. Just this year he accomplished that task and is rocking his job. We still ahve a way to go to full independence. However, on his time frame not mine we are slowly getting there.
I am a better person for our experiences. Thanks to my son for teaching me what I needed to learn in this life. Thanks for teaching me to expect the unexpected.
I am a published author and focus on books pertaining to autism and Aspergers Syndrome. I have had special needs articles published in several magazines. I have been interviewed several times in print, on pod casts, and internet T.V. regarding the autism spectrum. I have presented autism workshops to staff, management teams, and parent groups. I offer tips on curriculum development and behavior modification within the classroom and through in-services. I am certified by the Department of Early Childhood Education as a lead preschool teacher, an infant and toddler teacher, and site coordinator qualified to manage school age programs. I have recently ventured into public speaking engagements to educate both parents and educators on autism and Aspergers Syndrome
I want my experiences and challenges to be used productively as a learning tool for other parents and for educators as well. When my son was diagnosed with Asperger’s a decade ago it was a foreign word among many parents and professionals alike. I fought for help never giving up. Through my books I wish to help parents feel like they do not walk in the dark, that they are not alone, empower them and that there is light at the end of the tunnel. I also want to educate society at large on the topic of the autism spectrum. I believe all parties involved need to work as a collaborative team in order to insure a special needs child’s Amazon.com at Mari Nosal : Please stop by my site at Amazon Books and check out my published books on autism aspergers special needs and more you like my articles, aside from being the parent of an adult with Aspergers Syndrome/ A.D.D and an educational professional, I am also a published author of many special needs and autism related books written to inspire and support parents, families, educators and society at large as well. Please stop by and check out my books on http://tinyurl.com/kdspqy9
Mari Nosal M.Ed.