Sunday, February 27, 2011

Why Should It Matter? Telling A Boy About His Asperger's

Here's my cute MJ. 11 years old with Asperger's. In my last post I was all concerned about MJ really understanding what Asperger's is all about. I sent my husband, an Aspie himself, to go down and have a heart to heart with my son and let him know what really was up and how it was going to affect him or not as he got older.

OK, now, I received a few comments, and I'm hoping that I didn't come across the wrong way, because I don't think of Asperger's as being something "wrong" with a person. I have always embraced it's characteristics as unique traits rather and not misfortunes or problems.

Now, true, my idea was that my husband was going to go talk to my son and just kind of say something toward, "You know we have Asperger's, right? Well, let me explain a little more in detail about what it is or why we don't get things all the time...." or maybe some kind of conversation about how life might be challenging for us but we can overcome it.....etc....etc...

But did that happen? Well, no. My husband came up and I asked him what happened. He said he made MJ cry. Oh, no. That's not good. But when I asked what he said, it wasn't the ideas that I had imagined. He said he didn't really mention much about Asperger's and he just talked about how school was really hard for him and he didn't have any friends and it was ugly and how MJ would be going to junior high soon and things were probably going to be hard and teachers probably weren't going to care as much....and how MJ was going to probably struggle to make things work for him.

So....hmmmm.....really, did this conversation do any good for MJ? Hmmm.....I think maybe it just freaked him out a bit more.

But then, really, what was I thinking anyway?

We recently decided to establish a support group for people with Asperger's or those who have friends and/or family members with Asperger's (which I'll go into more detail on in another post). At one of our meetings we met a gal who had been diagnosed with AS at age 19. I brought up this discussion with her saying how I had always explained Asperger's to my son as "You know how your brain is wired a little differently, you know you and dad...." and then how I would explain how he didn't quite get something and what or how he should have acted or responded. And this awesome gal said to me something like, "Why? Why do you need to say that in the first place?" Basically she told me that I didn't need to be starting all these conversations trying to explain why he was acting different than someone else or why he didn't figure something out, but all I needed to be doing was just stating the situation that went wrong, telling him it's not appropriate, and then showing him how to correct the situation, or teaching him how to act next time.

This was very eye opening to me. Really, why do I have this need to have to tell my son or husband that "Gee, I know this is because you think differently or this is because you have Asperger's....." I mean, I guess I just felt this need to make sure my son didn't feel bad or I didn't want him to feel like there was something wrong with him that was his fault. But really, the world just wants people to be normal, and if any other kid of mine did something inappropriate, then I would just stop them, correct them, and teach them. Why should it be different with someone with Asperger's? Yes, they may be different as far as processing things differently, and not picking up on things as easily as another who learns things more intuitively, but why should that matter? They can still learn and try.

So, while I was once concerned about this need for my son to be more knowledgeable about his Asperger's and what to expect as he gets older, really, why? All I really should be doing is teaching him, guiding, him, and doing my best as a mother to prepare him for the future, for growing up, and going out into the real world on his own.

I say so much that Asperger's is not a disability but just a different way of life, but I've got to truly understand that myself and show that better by correcting my words and truly accepting my kids and husband, Aspies or not.