About The Author

The author is a mother of 3 children, one of whom has been diagnosed with Asperger's Syndrome. She started this blog to document that journey.

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Wednesday, October 28, 2009

The World According to "Me"

I'm finding it difficult to parent M when it comes to discipline.

It's like he believes that the world revolves around him, and I don't think it's in a mean-spirited way. It's more like he's completely oblivious to other people's sacrifices.

For example, if he and his brother have to compromise on a series of choices, it doesn't matter to him that the last 2 encounters have gone in his favour. His brother obviously feels that this time around he shouldn't have to compromise again, and I think that's fair. How do I get HIM to see that?

To be perfectly honest, M does his share of compromising. For a long time, he'd just go along with what his big brother wanted. But when it comes to certain things, like taking turns to watch a favourite TV show, there are certain times he expects to win out.

Two of his favourite shows are Mister Maker (kids craft) and Louie (art/drawing). If either of these is on, and he knows it, and you plan to watch something else.... watch out. There will be a tantrum.

I will usually deal with these tantrums just like I would with any other child - I can't hear you until you calm down, and I'll put you somewhere quiet to get to the point where we can chat and reason. More and more, it seems that I can't get to that point.

It's as if I'm speaking to a brick wall, and he's not in the least interested in "reasoning".

I used to be able to get him past the temper, to the point where he's calm and we can reason. It just doesn't seem to be working any more. And I'm pretty sure leaving him to scream or cry it out isn't the answer.

Distracting him to some other activity he likes often works, but I'm running out of ideas on this. There's only so much drawing the kid can do - besides that's what he wanted to watch in the first place - more things to make and draw!

And besides, I want to understand what changed to make him act up so much more all of a sudden.

Is there something he's bottling up that's manifesting itself in increased frustration? Has he reverted to trying to use tantrums to manipulate things to his way?

Depending on the answers, there are very different actions to be taken.

As I write this, I recall that he is also now refusing to brush his teeth and to bathe, which he always said he wasn't a fan of but he'd do anyway as long as you "kept him company". As a matter of fact, once he got comfy he'd spend ages and ages in the bath.

Now... different story. It takes a lot of insistence and tears but he eventually does comply. What's making him act up like this? And why now?
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Sunday, October 25, 2009

Opening up the Doors to Communication

Finding that mental connection to my son has always been more challenging for me, than it is with his siblings. When trying to explain a new idea to him, we would be on clearly different wavelengths. It would be frustrating to us both, because without finding that mental connection, I had no foundation for building new concepts and he soon tired of trying to "get" me. It would take weeks and weeks of repetition and then just like that - one day he'd get it. And once he's got it, he's got it.

I didn't know it at the time, but two weeks ago at the start of our assessment process I learned that this is typical of the way people on the Autistic Spectrum seem to learn.

I hope to capture here some of the behaviours I noticed as a parent that helped me decide to have him evaluated, and those that I missed as indicators. For me, it is so important to try to understand his perspective, so that our communication doorways remain open.

For more information on Asperger Syndrome and Autism Spectrum Disorders you can check out these resources:

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Parenting with Dr Asperger

Looking at your crying child and knowing that you are powerless to help. This feeling of utter desolate helplessness. This is the root of Mother Guilt. Because instinctively a parent will give their all to avoid being here.

He is sad. And he doesn't know why. And I can't get to the bottom of it. And I can't make it go away. I feel like I'm failing him.

He desperately needs me, and this time. I don't have the answers.

As I watched him curl next to me in a tight ball sobbing silently, I resolved to do the only thing I know how to do. To work through this the best way I know how, and to document the process. I hope it will somehow hold a clue to helping him. And perhaps it will help another parent somewhere, to know they are not alone.

Our journey starts here: Parenting with Asperger, so named after the pediatrician who recognized it in himself and others, and argued for their place in society.

Hans Aperger was an Austrian pediatrician (1906-1980). He may have himself been an autistic, although the disorder named after him was not popularized until 1981.
"We are convinced, then, that autistic people have their place in the organism of the social community. They fulfil their role well, perhaps better than anyone else could, and we are talking of people who as children had the greatest difficulties and caused untold worries to their care-givers."
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