Apr
17
2012

Parenting Aspergers: I Should Take My Own Advice

by Kimberlee Stokes Affiliate Link Disclosure B

Yesterday was a tough day in our household. According to the Holmes and Rahe Stress Scale, changing your residence is in the top 20 most stressful life events. I would actually place it around number 2.

You may have read previously that I have a teenage son with Aspergers, an autism spectrum disorder. Because my son is so high functioning I often forget that he has Aspergers and that I need to prepare him (and myself) for special events in a pro-active way.

This past week we experienced a “double whammy”: I unfortunately scheduled our moving date within a few days of my son’s return from a two week vacation with friends. (Can you say, “duh!” ?)

When talking to a friend whose son also has Aspergers, she reminded me that transitions are difficult for our children. I decided that maybe it was time to look at some of my own advice about parenting a child with Aspergers:

“All children have built-in stress radar, but children with autism spectrum disorders are even more sensitive to the emotions and actions of those around them. My first job is to remain calm and relaxed in order to help my son remain calm and relaxed.” 

Yes, I wrote that. I wish that I could have remembered that yesterday when my son and I were arguing about his response to his sister. I have to remember that he acts out when he is anxious, and we have a very anxiety-producing event going on right now. Everything that is normal and comfortable to my son is being turned upside down with this move. While it will be a better place for our family, the transition will be difficult.

 

“Changes between events, schedules and locations require adjustment for anyone, but especially for a child with Aspergers.” 

Another quote from this woman who has a child with Aspergers. Oh yeah, that was me in my post about Adjusting After Vacation. Returning to “normal” life takes time for everyone in our family and I have to keep my expectations low and my grace for others high.

 

“I have to keep in mind that my children are not exhibiting these behaviors on purpose. They can’t help the way their bodies and minds are reacting and we have to work together to find coping skills that help them deal with these problems.”

Yet another reminder that I have to be the one to remain calm and understanding. I regularly forget that my son has no control over the way his body responds to the over-stimulation of stressful situations. Too often I look at the issue as something that he needs to “fix” and I tell him so, but the reality is that we both have to find coping skills to deal with the way his body and mind respond. We are a team and I need to act that way.

 

So while yesterday was pretty much an epic failure in the parenting department, I plan to do a better job today.  Thankfully, my son is very forgiving. Now I just need to forgive myself. :)

 

 

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{ 37 comments… read them below or add one }

Wendy S. April 17, 2012 at 12:25 pm

I think just maybe that you are being a little too hard on yourself.
After all, none of us are perfect but just forgiven. :D
I really enjoy your blog.

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Kimberlee April 17, 2012 at 12:26 pm

Thanks Wendy!

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Jen April 17, 2012 at 12:27 pm

Hi Kimberlee,

I appreciated your honesty in this post – I always love when bloggers are real about who they are and how they fall short. Because we all fall short! I can read through your words that you are being hard on yourself. We are always our toughest critics. As you said, you are blessed to have such a grace-giving son, and family. :) Prayers for a smoother transition these next few days with your big move. This too shall pass, and soon enough things will be all settled for everyone in the family! Thanks for the honesty.

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Kimberlee April 18, 2012 at 12:42 am

Thanks so much for your prayers and encouragement. :)

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Karen April 17, 2012 at 12:28 pm

Sorry to hear about your rough day. Isn’t so awesome how forgiving they are, though? My son, also on the spectrum, can have very difficult mood swings to deal with, especially around change. But everyone who knows him will agree that he is also one of sweetest, loving and most forgiving people they know. We are so lucky…..and on those difficult days, remembering the latter always helps! =) Best of luck to you and your family as you settle into your new home. I love your blog!

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Kimberlee April 18, 2012 at 12:39 am

Thanks Karen! So glad you like the blog. :)

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Hannah April 17, 2012 at 12:39 pm

Hang in there!!

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Carah A. April 17, 2012 at 12:40 pm

I just want to Thank you for writing the things you do…at the time you do!! I feel like you are speaking directly to me :) I happened to stumble upon your Blog on Pinterest…Now I am practically stalking you… waiting for the awesome advice that I will receive that day!! I have a toddler with Aspergers…high functioning, that I too forget that his anxiety level is activated by any type of change to his daily routine. Thank you for your words today!! :) Take Care & God Bless You :)

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Kimberlee April 18, 2012 at 12:37 am

Carah, I feel honored to be stalked by you! :)

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Kristin April 17, 2012 at 12:43 pm

My 6 year old son has high function autism but can act so “normal” I sometimes forget that. Its something I struggle with on an daily basis. I just look forward and say “Tomorrow will be better” :)

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Heather April 17, 2012 at 12:45 pm

My Aspie is 18 and we have been through some doozies of transitions. I’ve never been what you would call “type A” personality but I’ve learned to allow him some control over things that don’t matter as much at times when change is unavoidable. I might let him decide what to have for dinner… or let him get away with not doing a chore… or let him have a splurge item such as a video game. I also really make him a part of the planning process whenever possible. Sometimes it isn’t possible. Our house got struck by lightning last summer while he was home alone with our two cats. His room suffered the worst of the damage so there was some major stress for him in that… And now that he’s 18 and about to graduate from high school, I’ve lost my job and we will likely have to move two hours away to live with family once he graduates. I just keep him in the loop and discuss all our alternatives whenever he is in a mood to listen. Sorry… didn’t mean to write a novel. I feel sometimes like a pioneer with this Aspergers stuff. When mine was diagnosed NOBODY had heard of it. I’ve had to figure a lot out on my own!

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Kimberlee April 18, 2012 at 12:36 am

Heather, sometimes I feel like I’m figuring out everything by myself too. Thanks for your ideas! :)

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Chara April 17, 2012 at 1:06 pm

My son doesn’t have Asperger’s, but he is four, and a pretty sensitive child, and verbally, he is extremely advanced. This is a great reminder to me that, though he seems to be able to handle things, he isn’t old enough to handle things the way I think he is. Thank you for the reminder today.

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Fatcat April 17, 2012 at 1:08 pm

I think epic failure might be overstating it a bit. Today’s another day. Just do the best you can.

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Linda April 17, 2012 at 1:22 pm

I don’t have a child with Asperger’s, though I highly suspect my super alpha geek hubby is. But I do have two kids with FASD, which also causes them to not handle transitions well. There are so many times when I forget, in the moment, to calm myself, or I don’t do it well and the kids can see that I’m escalating along with them. Those are the times when I need to accept God’s forgiveness and grace, just as I need to extend that grace to my kids. If I hang on to the guilt, it takes a lot longer for me to model peace, and a lot longer for the kids to calm down. I’d say calm themselves, but they are still learning how to do that and need help. I guess I’m learning also, and need God’s help to bring peace in my heart. We want to be perfect for our kids’ sake, but sometimes we fail and need to show how to get back on our feet and get right with God.

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Crystal @ Serving Joyfully April 17, 2012 at 1:25 pm

So sorry you guys had a bad day :( But, it happens. And, you’re right…our kids forgive us so much faster than we forgive ourselves.

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Coupon Yoda April 17, 2012 at 1:53 pm

Wow! Thanks for sharing honestly. I see so many mothers who seem to do these things better than me. I know other people have these days, but it is nice to be reminded that REALLY happen in other homes!

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Kimberlee April 18, 2012 at 12:22 am

Yes, it really happens! :)

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Christi April 17, 2012 at 1:56 pm

Kimberlee:

I can totaly appreciate your post. I too have a teenage son with Aspberger’s and we too are moving within a couple weeks of school ending. I’ve tried to prepare my child with a lot of talk and asking his opinion and preferences with his new room. I, however, am feeling guilty that because of the move (to the country) he will be angry and frustrated at all the changes coming.

Thank you for reminding me of the wonderful advise, and that I need to be calm and in control of me, to help him be calm and in control of himself.

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patty April 17, 2012 at 1:56 pm

Don’t be too hard on yourself. You are taking a great step by recognizing what happened so you can deal with the problem and change in the future. Prayers for you and your family during this time of change!

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Kimberlee April 18, 2012 at 12:22 am

Thanks Patty!

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TC April 17, 2012 at 3:42 pm

You seem like an awesome mama!

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Kimberlee April 18, 2012 at 12:15 am

Thank you TC. I do try. :)

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Angie April 17, 2012 at 5:12 pm

Sometimes it is hard to follow our own advice especially when the situation is rough and going on! You advice helps others and now that you have taken the moment to reflect it will help you rest of the day and the near future ones! LOL!

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J Murphy April 17, 2012 at 5:53 pm

Well….go ahead and forgive yourself….. the fact that you still feel awful about mistakes you made shows what a caring Mom you are! And tomorrow’s another day!

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Cheri April 17, 2012 at 6:15 pm

My teenage son also has Aspergers and is also very high functioning. Most of the time I forget that he is an “Aspie”, but there are days when I have to remind myself to remain calm and carry on. Fortunately, as he has gotten older, he is in more control of his actions and we have all learned what his triggers are. It certainly is a learning experience and I have become a more sensitive, empathetic person because of it. Thanks for sharing your story!

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Dineen April 17, 2012 at 7:29 pm

This was very timely for me. I am the wife of a man on the spectrum. These very same words can apply for so many situations as a wife/help-mate. Because my husband is so high functioning I often forget that he is on the spectrum and that I need to change how I approach asking him to do something (make sure it is something he is comfortable with for one thing). And when I DO forget, I have to apologize for throwing him a task without proper instruction and ask forgiveness and forgive myself and move on.

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Gloria April 18, 2012 at 8:58 am

This was very helpful, and I will favorite your blog. My son is 11 and was just diagnosed with High Functioning Aspergers. In a nut shell, life has just been topsy turvey for the last 11 years and now we are on the other side of the turvey.
We adpoted our son at thea ge of 18 months, so we have no real case history for our little boy. We don’t know what the birth mom was like or the dad, so we have been flying blind ever since.
Last night was an exceptional night. Working with Kerry’s place out of Whitby, ON, they have started to give us some idea’s, one is to stick with our punishments when warrented. Our little man likes to lie and steal. He has been our little “Al Copone” for some time, and we had thought it was getting better. But now he is stealing from us. Yikes!
So thus a grounding, he wanted one like his friend, so we asked his friend and the friends parents infront of our son. The meaning of grounding in the friends home is everything is gone for the number of days set.
Then the grounding-he agreed with the worker tha this would be okay; the stealing continued, thaking things to school expensive electronics. Us the parents find out last night-explosion! How to keep calm, how to maintain the grounding, and what are the next steps.
Things get broken, my son looses his cool, anger everywhere.
Jumping to the end of the story, a nice hot shower for my son, a quiet review of what he has done by stealing and a quiet move to keep him calm. The movie “love 2 race”, a boy who steals, races, and fights with his parents….

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Kimberlee April 18, 2012 at 2:00 pm

I’m so sorry that you are going through this Gloria. Sounds like you are doing your best. Hang in there!

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Chris April 18, 2012 at 11:21 am

I made a huge fool of myself yesterday and was mean to a good friend, along with some other people at my school… My friend forgave me but i am struggling to get over what I did. All I know is sometimes it takes time, especially when we KNOW we were wrong. But I love how you closed your article, that you were planning on trying to do better today. That’s all you can do, so I’m going to try it too. We can be better.

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Kimberlee April 18, 2012 at 1:57 pm

I’m sorry you had a bad day Chris, but you are right. All we can do it ask forgiveness and try to do better next time. :)

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Heather April 18, 2012 at 8:29 pm

This post really rang true for me. I work with special needs kids and often dispense advise to their parents and teachers, then fail to follow that advise with my own special needs child at home. I just decided about a week ago that I really needed to change the way I function at home, so it makes me feel better that I’m not the only one who’s having to take a good, hard look at herself. Thanks!

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Kimberlee April 19, 2012 at 12:17 pm

You are very welcome Heather!

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Trellis September 2, 2013 at 3:09 pm

I have a high functioning Aspie son who will turn 21. We found out his diagnosis about 5 months ago. We have had him tested almost once a year since he was 3. No one ever breathed a word about Autism. He does well in college, unless he dislikes the professor. He refused to learn to drive. He has had one date in his life. He has always done chores assigned to him as a member of the household. He cannot read people at all. He is especially ineffective at understanding other’s disappointed or sadness. If he doesn’t know how to react, he simply gets a neutral face and listens. We have had almost zero counseling as it takes a long time to get into a center he. Now that we know what his “glitch” is, we can at least read up on it. But I am more than disappointed with the medical community.

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Kimberlee September 2, 2013 at 8:59 pm

I am so sorry. It took us years to get a diagnosis as well, but so many people in the past have gone completely undiagnosed, so at least we have some help now, even if it is late. I talked with a mom who has a 25 year old Aspergers son who still doesn’t drive. That didn’t give me much hope– haha! I just try to take one day at a time and make the best decisions and help him the best that we can. I hope that you can find some helpful information and encouragement.

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Trellis October 6, 2013 at 10:47 pm

I think if I can get my Aspie the kind of car he would like, he would learn to drive in a minute. He is so fussy about everything. Hair, beard, clothes, everything has to be just right, or he is greatly “discomforted.” We had d room disruption a bit ago, but he took it just fine. But you are right, any change or disruption of routine is a big deal. I keep reading. Steve Colbert had a person on a few nights ago, and I need to read that Austism book. I feel like a person who has a head of important, but useless knowledge to just about everyone else. A mom. Have a good week.

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Kimberlee October 7, 2013 at 5:43 pm

Yes, I know that desire to have everything “just right”. It’s frustrating, but something we have to deal with in our Asperger’s kids. I like your idea to motivate them to drive though. :)

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