Thursday, March 24, 2011

How to Tell Your Kid About Their Asperger's

OK, so as you have read in my last few posts, we have kind of been having this struggle trying to talk to our son about Asperger's Syndrome.

Yes, I had all these ideas at first about how his dad should go talk to him because he also has Asperger's and it would make more sense coming from him. But then what I had in mind didn't really manifest as my husband talked about how hard life was going to be and how miserable junior high was going to be, and basically I think he just depressed the boy.

Then of course I learned a little bit to think why does it really matter that we tell him he has Asperger's. Rather, just help him to figure out how to overcome any struggles related to it.

Well, anyway, my emotions continued to be mixed, and I still felt like I was somehow doing some sort of injustice by not fully explaining his condition to him.

We watch the show on NBC called Parenthood. If any of you have not seen this, it's partially about a family who has a son with Asperger's. The show has been interesting. I think they do a pretty decent job in showing the characteristics of Asperger's, but then I often disagree with the way they let the son sort of rule the house on the show. So, mixed feelings there, but on the show, the parents kept the boys Asperger's like a big secret and they didn't want their son to know. One day he overheard and found out he had this thing called Asperger's and wanted to know what it was. Anyway, on the show, the doctor and the parents had this idea of how to explain Asperger's in a more positive way by describing not just the challenges, but what strengths there are associated with Asperger's Syndrome.

Well, I thought this was a great idea, so we all sat down at the table and I started to talk to MJ. I said, "Hey, did you know what you can do that maybe others can't do so well?"

Of course, this is where things turned sour. For every strength that I began to list, my husband (who obviously must still think there are no benefits to having Asperger's) would put out a "but" or "well, not exactly..." or other kind of comment that was tearing my pro list apart.

"Did you know that you and Daddy both have really good memories and can remember tons of details about things?" And then my husband says, "Well, only about stuff that other people don't really care about."

And then I said, "Did you know that you guys are really smart and have this whole database of knowledge and that you can remember all kinds of facts and figures better than most people?"
And then of course my husband chimes in, "but it's usually only about things that no one else is interested in...."

OH! I just wanted to smack him! And yes, I gave him "the look" a couple of times, but of course a man with Asperger's is not going to understand "the look", so that did no good.

But I tried to go on with several pros about having Asperger's as my husband was all negative, but hopefully I got some positives across. Then with the positives, I slowly began describing some of the challenges about having Asperger's.

I talked about how it was a little more difficult to know when other people were finished with a conversation or how to understand what they were feeling. We talked about how they had to work a little harder to look and respond to people, or how they didn't always understand certain jokes or "looks" that people give. We talked about how they didn't always understand the reasons why they had to behave certain ways or not talk about certain things in public, or why their clothes had to match or other things.

Overall, I think it went over very well. I'm sorry that my husband must have had such a difficult childhood to be so negative about any benefits of having Asperger's, but we really want MJ to have a different experience with the whole thing. We don't want him to grow up thinking these things are wrong with him, rather that he has strengths and weaknesses just like anybody else, and everyone has to overcome their weaknesses in different ways.

1 comment:

Me said...

Glad you figured it out! Is it possible that your husband is just struggling because of his aspergers, with saying the wrong things at the wrong time?