easy child and his autism. How do I explain it to him?

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by Californiablonde, Dec 18, 2012.

  1. Californiablonde

    Californiablonde Well-Known Member

    So easy child is not on board at all whatsoever with his diagnosis of Asperger's. He totally can't see in himself what others do. And there's this kid in one of his classes, that is also autistic, who is lower on the spectrum given the behaviors my son describes. This kid, who I will call "P" frequently has major meltdowns in class. If P doesn't understand something the teacher is trying to explain, he cries, and loudly. If he gets frustrated, he bangs his head and his fists down on the desk and screams out. He also has no friends and is frequently made fun of. My easy child, Monkey, has several friends, despite some unusual/odd behaviors, and he never has meltdowns at school. Sure once he gets home he has tantrums if things aren't working right (computer and cell phone mainly) and he will break stuff and scream out when frustrated. But he never does this in school. He is never hyper at school like he is at home, either. He is rather shy and quiet at school. He holds himself together really well at school, and when he comes home he lets loose. So Monkey sees P acting out at school and he knows P is autistic. Because P and Monkey are very different, he does not believe he is Asperger's at all. I tried to explain to him that there are different types of the disorder and they can manifest themselves in very different ways, but he still doesn't get it. He is offended to be called autistic by psychiatrist.

    A couple of months ago P got mad at Monkey. Some other kid made fun of P and Monkey heard it. He laughed at something this other boy said. Because easy child laughed, P got mad and started punching Monkey hard in the face and stomach. There were witnesses who saw the whole thing, and both boys were called into the principal's office. The principal then called me and told me what had happened, but she didn't tell me who the boy was that punched my son. At first I was furious. I wanted this boy suspended and I wanted the harshest possible punishment for him. When I picked up Monkey later that day, I asked him who hit him. When he told me it was P, I suddenly felt sorry for him. I wasn't angry anymore. Poor guy couldn't help himself. And easy child laughing at him provoked it. I felt bad for P for being so poorly misunderstood. I told easy child to cut him a break because, even though P did something bad, he was acting out due to his autism. easy child couldn't believe I was actually sorta defending this kid. I tried, yet again, to explain to him that P has a disorder that makes it hard to control his emotions, kind of like easy child does at home when his computer freezes up on him or his cell phone doesn't work. easy child just doesn't get it. Vehemently denies his disorder. How can I make him see that being Asperger's isn't a bad thing? Are there any books out there that can help him? He is a very advanced reader, so even a book for teens or young adults would be appropriate. I just hate the thought of easy child growing up hating part of who he is. How do I make him understand he is a great person and his Asperger's is only a small part of it?
  2. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    If you look through the archives, you might find the stuff I used to help difficult child 3 get it. Basically, I used a computer model. I've got to go out this morning (difficult child 3 has an assessment commanded by our social security system here, followed by an education assessment - why does it all happen NOW?). I'll dig through my files when I can, when I get back. However, things have swung into hectic mode here.

    Alternatively (having just found my file and realising time has degraded it to a bunch of random characters) I'll re-write something for you.

  3. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    Sorry - no time to enter EDIT mode. Meanwhile, also Google "James Williams" and "autism" in the same search window.

    Also to look up - Tony Attwood. he has some very positive takes on Asperger's.

    Sorry. GTG.

  4. HaoZi

    HaoZi Guest

    Is there a support group in your area where he could meet others closer along the spectrum like himself?
  5. Californiablonde

    Californiablonde Well-Known Member

    He is in a social skills group at school but I'm not sure what the kids' there are diagnosed with.
  6. HaoZi

    HaoZi Guest

    I'd look specifically for an Asperger's support group, and make it clear to him that not all autism is the same.
  7. buddy

    buddy New Member

    I made up an explanation of sorts once that there are different kinds of autism and some kids have a different kind than Q. I don't use terms like disorder etc. I told Quin (because he specifically asked if he looked funny and did weird things and is that how people know he has autism)....I told him how people look is not part of autism. I reassured him everyone thinks he is super cute. (Though as puberty hit his surgery site is caving in by his temple and he noticed it this week. ...always something )
    Anyway he asked what he does. I said for him sometimes he repeats things over and over, and he laughed! He said that's not a big deal, lol. I now sometimes will say this is one of the things you were wondering about, it's OK but it does show some people who understand autism that you have it. Some things he wants to change and some he accepts because I explain we all have something. Every cousin of his has a challenge. Calling it autism just helps us know how to help him. His cousin j has adhd and so he gets different help.

    This is not the " right " answer. Just what has evolved for us. Very black and white /concrete answers and examples. by the way, I point out he has a fantastic memory thanks to his autism and he is an expert in NASCAR because of his autism. Not exactly how it really is but it is a way he connects and feels good about himself.
    There are good books and websites too.
  8. Ktllc

    Ktllc New Member

    One book was a break through for V: "My life with autism" by Ethan Rice (an 8 year old with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) who wrote the book himself).
    It is a children's book but it is SO well explained and SO positive.
    Be fore even getting too heavy on the label, I would start talking about differences. We are all different, just like we all have challenges and talents.
    Like Buddt said, you have to think of your child's talent (and yes, sometimes it can be hard). For V it was his ability to observe animals for hours and notive every little detail (yes, he misses the bigger picture... but that's ok), and his novel way of thinking. To help V I gave him a few real life examples.
    What made it a bit easier: all my kids have or had challenges requiring therapy at one point or another. But yet they are happy and they don't see one another has being less because of the lack of speech, the special diet, the glasses or the autism.
    Finding the blessing in the disability is key. Not always an easy thing to do but so very important for your child's self esteem.
  9. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    My son is on the spectrum. He accepts it, but didn't really understand it so I took him to a professional who explained it much better than I ever could. He did not make my son feel like a freak. He explained the differences but did not make a big to-do over them and actually engaged my quiet son in a dialogue where he nodded and asked, "Oh, so you mean this is w hy I'm so sensitive when people criticize me?" He also "got" that there is a large spectrum and that his Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) is not t hat severe. MY son has learned to help others with the same diagnosis who are lower functioning. However, he has nothing in common with them so I understand your son's confusion.
  10. trinityroyal

    trinityroyal Well-Known Member

    My difficult child has never really accepted his diagnosis. He knows he has trouble with thinking and judgement and organizing, and that he has to take medication and follow a structured routine to help him think, make judgements and keep organized, and that's pretty-much where we've left things.

    Since he has a formal diagnosis, we have been able to get access to available services for him, but I don't really see the point in pressing it with him, as it doesn't really make a difference to his treatment plan. Our focus is on giving him strategies to function. WHY he needs those strategies is something he's not yet comfortable with, and that's fine with me. If and when he gets to a point when he's ready to explore his specific diagnoses further, then we'll deal with it.

    difficult child's approach is the opposite of mine. I was grateful for the label because it helped me to explain so many things that were strange before. It was like being given the box that the puzzle pieces came in, after years of only having the pieces. Of course, I received the information as an adult, and I think that made a difference. The teenage years seem to be a time when everyone wants to fit in with their peers. Having something that marks you as permanently different from everyone else might just be something he doesn't want to deal with yet.
  11. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    Okay, I'm back now.

    Basically, difficult child 3 is into computers, big time. Always has been. So I used computers as the metaphor.

    Think about what's involved in printing a document, perhaps a letter you have written. You've got bits in bold, bits maybe in italics. You've got the indents in the right place, the returns in the right place. You might have the recipient's details up the top. perhaps a logo. Your address details tabbed across top right. Maybe even a heading in bold and a larger font size. Then you print it out.

    Now you look at your document. If you didn't know which kind of computer (easy child or Mac) had been used to create the document, could you tell from the printout? Could anyone else tell, if they did not see you create the file or know what kind of computer you used? No, because you can create the same appearance to your letter no matter which kind of computer you use.

    Now think about computers and their operating systems. The instructions to a Mac to tell it how to actually implement your requirements, are very different to the programming needed to get a easy child to do the same thing. If you try to use the easy child instructions on a Mac, it won't do the job as easily, maybe not at all. Similarly, instructions specifically and only for a Mac will not work on a easy child. No, you have to ensure that the correct program is used according to the computer's requirements.

    And it's the same with people. Some people have Mac brains, others have easy child brains. Neither is better, they're just different.

    Some people have difficulty perfomring some kinds of tasks especially if they are taught using the same instructions as everyone else. If they're given a chance to find out the different way their brain might be able to do the job, you can get results you were not anticipating. it's just a matter of finding out the right way each person needs, to learn and to use their brains.

    With autism, some tasks are difficult and some are a lot easier. It's the same for a lot of people - I know an artist who paints brilliantly. He uses lots of amazing colours, surprising colours. His work hangs in galleries around the world. However, this man is dyslexic. In his case, he has to find a different way to get his message across. He doesn't shy away from trying to write, and a lot of his paintings have patches of his own text in them, spelling mistakes and all. It does not stop his work from selling in any way. He has found that the world values him and his work, just as he is.

    People with autism might find some tasks a lot more challenging, and that feels very unfair when they realise this. But at the same time, there are other things a person with autism can often do, a lot better than most 'ordinary' people. It is important to learn to value your gifts, whoever you are and whatever you can do, and to not sweat the stuff that is more challenging.

    I will never be an Olympic gymnast. I never was very good at that sort of thing, and I realise now, it's because my body was simply wrong for it. I'm short in the leg, long in the body and have very tight tendons. I was never able to do the splits, not even with practice and training. I haven't been able to touch my toes since I was five years old, even though I was a skinny little thing. I'm just the wrong shape - short in the leg, long in the body. But I found other things I was good at, and I'm still discovering things I'm better at than a lot of other people. it is fun discovering these things. As I learn things I'm not good at, I try to work out why I'm not good at them. Sometimes it's just lack of experience, and practice makes perfect. And sometimes it is just not something I will ever be good at no matter how much I practice. I have to make choices about what I work on, and what I will let go of.

    Learning to value yourself for who and what you are, is a rare and special thing. A lot of people never do this. I raised my kids, all of them, to value themselves as they are. This is not always easy - other people add in their own influences and can stigmatise a kid even when they're trying to help. difficult child 3 had a religious instruction teacher who used to pray with him that his autism would be healed. I was very angry when I found out - not because I don't value prayer, not because I felt this person was a hurtful person. She was actually a loving, kind person who really cared about my kids. No, I was cross because such a prayer implies first, that autism is curable (not a message we give to our spectrum kids) but worst of all, that it meant there was something wrong that had to be fixed before he could consider himself a whole person.

    My kids value themselves as they are. We had a house full of unusual individuals who accepted their uniquenesses and even enjoyed them. They identify it in others too, and value it where thye find it.

    One last comment on this - difficult child 3 was first assessed by his current speech pathologist, when he was 9 years old. We became good friends with the speech pathologist and her family, which included a young girl who at the time was 5 years old. She is a very bright kid, we could see it even then. difficult child 3, after meeting the little girl, said to her mother, "Is your daughter autistic?"
    The speech pathologist was aghast, offended even. "Of course she's not! Why would you ask that?"
    difficult child 3 replied, "Because she's so very smart."
    He has interpreted his own high IQ as a facet of his autism.

  12. DDD

    DDD Well-Known Member

    I'm not really sure that it is always necessary to focus on the details of a perceived "weakness"...unless, of course, he is being singled out in an unhealthy way. With my difficult child#2 it was only necessary to briefly respond to any questions that he originated based on his day. For many kids it is simply enough to say "each of us is created differently". Some kids are blond and short and seem to gain weight easily. You are a brunette like most of us in the family, you are tall and will likely always be able to eat like a horse and stay slender. Some kids are very good at school, some kids have difficulty passing and you mostly get B's and C's...except in math where you have to work very hard. Some kids are born with diseases that make everyday life very difficult like the little girl who is in a wheelchair while others, like you, can walk and run and do pretty much what you want to do with no pain. Personalities vary from person to person. Your Grandad is a fine man who doesn't talk much. I talk too much sometimes, don't I? The only problem you have is a very mild problem with Asperger's which means that you don't always "get" what other people are trying to communicate. That's why we went to the social skills group so you could improve your ability in that area. You're a bright, caring, wonderful person who just happens to have one small problem. We are very proud of you and so glad we are all family.

    I did look at books and for my difficult child knew it would cause him to worry. One book showed a child with unusual facial expressions. I knew that a book would trigger concerns and not bring peace...for our difficult child. Of course, each of our children is different. DDD