Ten little things we’ve learned over the years:
- In the Aspie children I’ve worked with, an angry voice usually means “hey, I’m panicking here,” and doesn’t actually indicate anger at all.
- Lack of compassionate response doesn’t necessarily mean a lack of compassion. It may show an inability to emote or “say the right thing”. This can be worked on.
- Being direct is the way to go. Don’t imply, hint, or use body language… say straight out what you want or what you are thinking. Be patient, and work on interpreting non-verbal communication at his/her pace; one day, he’ll surprise you.
- Don’t fear tantrums. Our loved ones need help and guidance, not our dread of public embarrassment. Working through tantrums – with the goal of helping the child to conquer his emotions on his own – is better than giving in.
- Sensory sensitivity is real.
- It’s a roller coaster ride. One day can be truly awful, with everything bleak as can be. Worn and terrified, we can almost give up hope, only to see a world of potential and promise the very next day. Our kids are extremists. Their bad days can be really bad, but that does not define who they are.
- A lack of friends now does not mean a lack of friends forever.
- Be open and honest. Our kids know they are different, usually by age 8 or 9, and seek answers. If they don’t know about Asperger’s Syndrome, they’ll come up with their own theories (“I’m a freak!”), and these may be damaging to self-esteem and confidence.
- Forgive yourself. It’s not your fault. As parents, we can only do the best we can do. And you are doing that.
- A lot – I mean a lot – of successful, happy adult Aspies remember struggling through grade school. They remember not having friends, and feeling like everyone else was capricious and incomprehensible. And yet, they made it through, and now have successful jobs and loving families. There is a light at the end of that long, grade-school tunnel!