And what about Aspies? (Part II – After Accepting the Truth)
Parents who seek counseling for their Aspie son or daughter are usually those who have already accepted the fact that there is no “magic” that will change the facts. There are no rules regarding the child’s age at the “acceptance point”. At this points the parents finally switch from the idea that THEY should do something to the more realistic one, namely, that their role is to find the best possible help in order to help their child have the best life he or she can. Getting to this point does not necessarily mean “embracing Asperger’s syndrome”, as if it was a gifted per se. Many grown-up Aspies, tired of social rejection, discrimination at the work place and even being mimicked or laughed at choose to do. Having Asperger’s syndrome is by no means a problem that makes life difficult, so it is quite understandable that a grown-up Aspie will find helpful webs (e.g. http://wrongplanet.net, https://www.autismforums.com, https://www.different-together.co.uk/news). There are also webs for parents of Aspies (e.g. https://www.parentingaspergerscommunity.com, http://community.autism.org.uk/f/parents-and-carers/1768/any-parents-of-girls-with-asperger-syndrome, http://www.aane.org/topics/children-and-teens/parents-of-children). Belonging to such a community, whether as an adult with Asperger’ syndrome or as a parent of a child with it helps in a variety of ways, but especially strengths the feeling of belonging, which is of great importance for parents for Aspies, especially when very young and highly gifted. Once the parents know that there are many families dealing with similar problems they are more emotionally available to focus on their child’s needs. They might still look for “better solutions” or “more understandable environment”, especially in times of crises caused after the child was expelled from a sport’s group or was ridiculed in school. But they are ready for the stage of “living with a child who has Asperger’s syndrome”. The first problem the parents deal with when a gifted child with Asperger’s syndrome is integrated in a regular or a gifted class is the attitude of the staff. In order to minimize conflicts they should be very strict with school when hearing time and again that “your son does not behave”; “he is so clever but does not seem to understand that when no one listens he should shut up” or “how come an intelligent girl touches her peers and does not keep even a minimal distance from them”. Unfortunately, many teachers still do not accept the fact that Aspie children can be very intelligent. It does not seem logical that a child who is excellent in math, a remarkable musician or a gifted painter is not able to learn social behaviors that are well assimilated among same-age peers, but are beyond the understanding ability of this gifted young child. When a teacher does not accept this elementary fact about Asperger’s syndrome it would be a waste of time and energy to “explain” or “teach” it. The only way to deal with the teacher’s demands for “meetings” or “counseling forums” would be to do everything possible to avoid them. As a result the parents might be perceived as “un-cooperative”, but up to the point when there is an actual threat that the child would be kicked out of school, it is always better to blame the parents than the helpless child for “bad behavior”. As for the social efforts many parents feel they must make in order to help their Aspie child: children choose their own friends when very young, and as much as it hurts to see your son or daughter alone in the afternoon or hear from the teacher that “Benny’s efforts to make friends are not successful most of the time” – when the Aspie child feels there are people around her or him, sometimes this make them happy even with no actual conversation or common activity they are part of. An Aspie child who goes to school happily and when asked “how was school” answers: “I has a lot of fun” is indeed satisfied, and so should be her or his parents. The next post will deal with the question: “How can I improve the social skills of my Aspie child?” It will suggest a variety of actions and activities that will not “cure” the child but rather open her or his world to more opportunities and experiences.
Hanna David received her PhD, "magna cum laude", from Ludwig Maximilians Universität, München and was a college lecturer in Psychology and literature. Dr. Dav
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