Aug
26
2013

Life with an Aspie (How I Manage the Teen Years)

by Kimberlee Stokes Affiliate Link Disclosure B

Aspergers The Teen Years

My teenage son has Asperger’s Sydrome (an autism spectrum disorder).

I don’t write very much about it for privacy reasons, but I know there are many families dealing with Aspergers and I thought that maybe I could be an encouragement to some of you with a few things that I have learned over the years.

Start with Hugs

I will be honest with you, I get frustrated a minimum of twelve times a day (okay, maybe it’s 112), and many times I don’t handle things well in the moment. To balance my propensity for irritation, I try to focus every day on the fact that I love my son, and I try to be proactive about showing it. He gets hugs in the morning and positive affirmations whenever I see something he is doing well, like consistently taking the trash out without being asked.

 

Prepare Yourself Mentally

One of my biggest frustrations is that every night it’s like my son’s brain is wiped clean, and I have to give the same instructions over again.

Every.

Day.

It’s enough to make a woman go insane, but I try to remind myself that we have made slow progress and the instructions that I am giving him now are not the same ones that I gave three or four years ago. We have at least made it past the stage where I had to tell him to take a shower more than once a week–haha! By preparing myself mentally that things are different with my son, I save myself a lot of stress.

 

Be Thankful

While there are daily frustrations, there are also many, many things for which I can be thankful. My son is super responsible, self-motivated and has a wicked sense of humor. I have told him many times that his ability to make me laugh has saved his life on several occasions. :)

I don’t always remain thankful, but I try to remember the good things as much as possible.

 

Laugh About It

One of the best tools for parenting an Aspie is laughter–just remember to laugh with them, not at them!

During my son’s recent job evaluation (Yes, he has a job!), he received glowing praise for his performance and a raise. One area, however, needs improvement: engaging customers. We know that this is an area of difficulty for him with the social problems associated with Aspergers, but instead of making a big deal about it,we started joking about the socially awkward customer service guy who can only ask REALLY  inappropriate questions:

“Hi. How did you produce such an ugly baby?”

“What’s your social security number?

 “How long have you been obese?”

 This relaxed him and we could talk about what kinds of questions are appropriate.

 

I am definitely not a perfect parent, but these skills have helped me to be a better parent. At the end of the day, it’s a good feeling to know that we are making the best of a tough situation.

 

If you have a friend whose child has Aspergers, please share this post if you think it was helpful.

 

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{ 24 comments… read them below or add one }

laura August 26, 2013 at 1:43 pm

Thank you for this post. It reminds me that no child is perfect, but they are a perfect version of themselves. I’m not the parent of a child with Asperger’s Syndrome, but I am the parent of a child with a learning disability. He is very smart and can compensate for his disability well, but he does struggle. He is challenged and can be challenging. This is a timely reminder for me to mentally prepare for the aspect of homework. I’ve decided to limit it to one hour during the week. We already use audio books and Dragon software to eliminate some of the stress and struggles. I do see where my outlook can help or hinder the process. If I’m calm and put it in the proper perspective, he won’t pick up on my chaos or my annoyance. And really, he is my child and it is my job to help him. (Read this previous stuff as my brain dump or pep talk to myself). Anyhow, thank you for sharing!!

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Kimberlee August 26, 2013 at 2:05 pm

That is so true Laura that our peacefulness, or lack thereof, really determines our child’s attitude and responses. It’s difficult to remember sometimes though!

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laura August 26, 2013 at 1:43 pm

By the way, forgot to mention in previous comment, he is a very handsome young man and you must be very proud of him!

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Kimberlee August 26, 2013 at 2:06 pm

Thanks Laura! Yes, I am VERY proud of how well he has done in life. :)

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Mona August 26, 2013 at 1:52 pm

Kimberlee..you are an amazing mama..
love, Mona

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Kimberlee August 26, 2013 at 2:03 pm

Thanks Mona!

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Megan August 26, 2013 at 5:56 pm

I want to thank your for your honesty in this post (really, ALL of your posts). I feel these are important reminders for every parent. Your son looks like a happy, healthy young man. Keep up the good work!

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Kimberlee August 26, 2013 at 6:06 pm

You are very welcome Megan! I just like to tell it like it is. :) Thanks for the compliment. I think he is happy most of the time.

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Susie August 26, 2013 at 5:59 pm

Hey there!
Sounds like you’ve done a great job with him!
That’s so great that he has a job. If I may ask, do you
/he inform the employers of the Aspergers ?
I have a teen Aspie too (almost 15) and
I agree with all that you said and thank you for the
reminders to laugh and be thankful.
Great post ! Thanks for sharing! Ps. He is gluten free also !
:)

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Kimberlee August 26, 2013 at 6:09 pm

That is a great question Susie. In this case I did not tell them about the Aspergers, but checked in with the manager a few weeks after he started to see if there wwre any issues. If there had been, I would have talked with my son to see if he wanted to share that information. He actually has improved so much in his ability to communicate that I don’t think they have noticed anything other than his shyness in talking to customers. If his issues were more severe, I would probably communicate about them to management.

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Lauren August 26, 2013 at 6:12 pm

Thanks for this post, Kimberlee! I have two boys, one ADHD & ODD, and one mild ASD. It’s good to know that eventually I may not have to make them take a shower more than once a week, lol!
Like Susie above me, I am curious if you/he mention to his employee that he’s an Aspie?

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Lauren August 26, 2013 at 6:13 pm

Nevermind, I see you posted the answer while I was typing! What kind of job is he doing?

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Kimberlee August 26, 2013 at 8:09 pm

He is working in an entertainment venue.

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Lavern August 26, 2013 at 7:04 pm

Always plan a head, tell them what plans are never just spring spur of moment spots or trips. They do not do well if you do.
Its rough but each triumph is a blessing.

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Kimberlee August 26, 2013 at 8:10 pm

That is so good Lauren! I forgot to mention about planning ahead, although he is getting better at adjusting when things don’t go as planned.

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Rebecca August 26, 2013 at 8:32 pm

Yes, laughter is the best! My son has Aspergers and had to switch schools this year. He is in 7th grade and has been very upset about this change. Today on the way to school, we listed positive things about starting a new school where he has a clean slate, such as ‘no girls there have rejected him when asked to a dance,’ and no one knows about the time he got detention for doing something silly.

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Kimberlee August 26, 2013 at 11:32 pm

Love it!

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Elizabeth August 27, 2013 at 1:05 am

My son who has both aspergers and adhd is just entering the wonderful world of puberty, and at the moment we’re living life on a day to day basis, but I try and do the same as you- lots of hugs and kisses and positive feedback when he does as he is asked to counter all the times I have had to be hard on him. It’s nice to know there is a light at the end of the tunnel, we just have to keep going and keep the faith. Xx

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Arian August 27, 2013 at 6:48 am

Just wanted to say you have a very handsome son!! God bless you, you are obviously a great mom!!!

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Kimberlee August 27, 2013 at 11:42 am

Thanks Arian!

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Jaye Marie August 27, 2013 at 5:57 pm

Thank you for addressing this issue. I’m struggling with my boyfriend’s adult daughter who I’m positive suffers from this form of autism. She, however, has no governor on her sexuality or ability to “read” people. She is horribly inappropriate in social situations, has fragmented the family I’m hoping not beyond fixing, and is a constant source of grief and anxiety for her single Dad.

I’ve yet to be able to reach her in any meaningful way because she sees me (the girlfriend of a year – but have know her since birth and her Dad for 48 years) as competition for his affection. Instead, I counsel him as to what I see could make her more self-sufficient as he isn’t going to live forever as well as independent.

Because of her extreme awkwardness at 28 she hasn’t a single friend except her Dad and although occasionally works, is unable to maintain a job. Although she presents herself well in short snippets of time, it doesn’t take long before she reveals her abrasive, demanding awkwardness and is let go. Her Dad is unable or unwilling to acknowledge her needs despite having adopted her as a special needs child with known FAS (fetal alcohol syndrome) which severely limits my ability to obtain services for her special needs.

Anyone else out there struggling with step-children or close family members who needs special services but parental denial is blocking the way?

Thanks for having a place to vent and for reminding me patience isn’t perfect or an unlimited resource.

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Kimberlee August 27, 2013 at 9:47 pm

Hi Jaye Marie! That sounds like a difficult situation. I would definitely encourage you to seek out a family counselor who specializes in Teens with Aspergers. Hopefully her dad will go as well, but if you are going to stay in this relationship, you are going to need some help navigating all this while maintaining good boundaries for yourself. I wish you well. :)

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Julie October 18, 2013 at 8:49 am

Your insight is always spot on.

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Kimberlee October 18, 2013 at 9:53 am

Thanks so much Julie! :)

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