This week my son went to spend the night at a friends house and has now been over there for 3 nights in a row. He’s 12, and I’m sure this is very normal behavior for most preteens, but for him, this is the culmination of everything he has worked for over the last 5 or 6 years. You see, he has Aspergers and spending the night away from home is one of his “fears” that grips him. This week we’ve all been celebrating this HUGE victory for him, and holding on to the hope that some of his other struggles might be overcome as well!
The Mayo Clinic describes Asperger’s Syndrome as this: “… is a developmental disorder that affects a person’s ability to socialize and communicate effectively with others. Children with Asperger’s syndrome typically exhibit social awkwardness and an all-absorbing interest in specific topics.”
When my son, K, was 4, we realized that he was not like most other kids. Looking back it was the little things that caught our attention; the instant anger/frustration that came from switching the schedule without warning, the absolute knock down fits when he knew there would be a punishment for something, and the way that he never wanted to be hugged or touched. We honestly just though this was maybe his personality and didn’t think too much of it. After all, he was so young.
As he got older, we noticed he wasn’t as social as some of the other kids his age, he had a really hard time relating to other boys in a “rough and tumble” sense. Soon after that we started to see that he would flip light switches on and off a certain number of times (come to find out it was any number that was divisible by 3), and he would constantly open and close doors 3 times as well. Again, the doctor reassured us that his OCD really wasn’t bad enough that we needed to do anything major about it (she actually told us that making a big deal each time he did it would only cause him to think about it more often). At this time he was already on an ADD medication that helped some of his other issues as well.
During all of this, his doctor was wonderful! She’s not one to prescribe medicine quickly and is always open to answer questions and not jump to conclusions. Because of her laid back attitude I think that we survived those years and came out of it with a better understanding of who God created K to be, instead of always questioning “why” or seeing his struggles as him being “broken”.
K is a bit better now at the social aspect of school (says his teachers who swear he’s at the center of the popularity circle – mind. blown.), but he struggles still at understanding friendships and how they work, and is still not much of a “touchy feely” kid (despite my rigorous efforts), but he is a lot of fun to be around!
He’s a pretty hilarious kid who thinks that he is destined to either be a rapping break dancer (the kid has some moves – he gets that from his Dad) or a Major League Video Gamer. His Dad and I think that due to his awesome math/engineering mind (Aspergers kids usually are really good at one area of school over the rest, math is K’s area for sure) that he’s probably better off as an Engineer – maybe the first ever rapping/break dancing/engineer…leave it to him to create a whole new field of study!
Do you have any experience with someone with Aspergers? Do you know of any adults that struggle with it? If so, how do they handle life? (I’m always curious)
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