Newsweek article on kids who don't fit in...


Active Member
Interesting article. I do think the kids described have Asperger's, even though the article expresses horror that such a label be given; but the horror seems more directed towards the "handicap" or "disabled" label, the concept that such a child is disordered. And I do agree with that concern - Asperger's is a syndrome, not a disorder.

We have done best with our kids, by treating them as different, as gifted, as special and unique. We avoid the concept of disability and certainly shy away from disorder as a label. Doesn't stop other people, though.

In life, we do what we can with what we've got. Our kids have amazing abilities, odd interests (which we indulge) and some delays, which we tutor to try to resolve.
As for indulging the odd interests - husband likes to play with tiny trains. What's wrong with that? If he were a kid in some families, however, they would be frantically trying to force 'normality' onto him.

This is something I can't understand but I see it in people on CD - maybe it's a US thing (we get it in Australia, but to a much lesser extent) - this need to see any variation from normal as a disability which needs to be fixed. But it's a worry, wherever I see it. And I do see it Down Under too, just not as much. Maybe it's because in our little area, we have the luxury of individuality. The more citified a society gets, the less room there is for individuality. Here where we live there are a number of people who are very different. We have a lot of artists who live here and some of them are very quirky. A few Aspies as well, including a middle-aged man who has NO idea how to dress. His favourite outfit (which he wears on special occasions), even in winter, is a pair of fluorescent-pink shorts and a red shirt. He loves it, I think it makes him feel happy. He has built his own geology museum in his backyard. His father helped him, before he died. The man now lives alone, although a lot of people look out for him to keep him safe and well.
We have a boy in town whose autism is quite severe - we often see him and his parents at the beach. He loves the beach, loves the water. His little sister has grown up accepting him for who he is. She is very bright, very normal. If he's standing on the sand widdling through his swimsuit, his father might fuss a bit and say, "We don't do that," but there's no big deal. If he's not having a good day and the beach begins to get too crowded for him, his parents take him home or move to a quieter spot. Those of us who know him say hello to him, even though he doesn't recognise our faces. He's recently begun to talk a little, so we always try to listen when he wants to talk to us, even if all he's doing is reading the numbers on a sign.

What we need is acceptance. We need to love and accept our kids, embrace t he differences, work on the bits we need to work on but not to the detriment of the child and their abilities. And to not look for a 'treatment' which will 'make the kid normal' - because frankly, normality ain't all it's cracked up to be. And these kids can be better than normal.

Everything else in that article, I heartily endorse. But a diagnosis doesn't and shouldn't automatically mean a label of disorder. It's an explanation, not a request for change. Sometimes you can use the label to accept appropriate help, such as being able to access a social skills course for kids with high-functioning autism - when difficult child 3 attended such a course, it was restricted to those who had a diagnosis. But the gang of kids he met and has since spent a lot of time with, purely on social outings - absolutely wonderful. These kids do not see themselves as handicapped, they see themselves as very good at the things they are interested in.
One boy seems to be always sleepy, never says much and you get the impression he's borderline IQ. He even looks a bit like a Downs or similar. But I have no trouble having a conversation with him, he is a very mature young man. And he is a very good comic actor - great sense of timing. It is one more thing he values about himself. (when "Black Balloon" comes out, watch for this bloke as a turtle). But he has found his label useful, as we have with our boys.



Active Member
Very interesting, I liked the part where it asked if the childs behavior bothered/impaired the parent or the child? Tho sometimes with certain disorders, the child may not be bothered but the behaviors could impair social development. All of the children were pictured as mostly peaceful.
This article really captured my attention when my Newsweek mag came last Monday. I read it, put it down and completed that process several more times. I just couldn't figure out what I thought of it for some time. After a while I realized that the author's thesis is close to what I have been trying to articulate with difficult child's psychiatrist. He told me that he was somewhat offended when I told him that difficult child's "official diagnosis" didn't really make that much difference to us as long as it opened the doors that needed opening. No matter what his diagnosis, difficult child is still the same mysterious and intruiging guy that keeps us on our toes each and every day! Previous therapists just didn't get difficult child and many have thought that he was just fine , he just needed to be "made" to do things. Jeesh... that kind of "help" made our lives so much more difficult. So, finally having gained the understanding that we have gained - I have very mixed feelings about labels and exactly what is "normal". I believe that this is and will be an ongoing debate for our culture for years to come.

hearts and roses

Mind Reader
Well, I have to say that I've read many articles just like this one over the years and I wasn't very impressed. It seemed to me that for the sake of brevity, the author did not spend much time speaking with parents whose children were off the charts with their <span style="color: #990000">"kids who don't talk on time or, alternately, "talk constantly but never seem to get their point across"; kids who have rigid routines or throw "nuclear tantrums"; toddlers who keep to themselves "while the rest of the playgroup lives up to its name."</span>.

I would have liked to have read a little more about those kids and how their parents felt (overwhelmed, depressed, under-enthused at the thought of lifelong care issues) and how the children were treated by his/her peers and how the child dealt with other's indifference to his/her 'problems'. Through my own experience with difficult child, I've noticed that in most public schools, the kids are kind to the 'obviously' special needs kid but downright cruel to the 'seemingly normal' special needs kid. And likewise for teachers. In fact, sometimes the teachers were extra hard on difficult child because they thought she was just lazy and I was out of my mind and not pushing enough at home.

The line about a teacher pulling aside the boy who likes to only speak of architecture and explaining to him other topics his peers would rather discuss made me laugh out loud. Past Grade One I think few teachers [in a public school setting] would take the time to do this with a student while dealing with a classroom of 28 students.

I think this article gave about 2 cents worth of information that we already knew or felt, but most of it was fluff to me.

It would be a nice thing if we could all just say that these kids are "quirky", but when they are running around crazy, throwing things and kicking their parents, stealing, dabbling in drug or alcohol, flunking out of school, dealing with the after effects of physical and sexual abuse, and various other horrible, trying things [for parents to deal with], I don't think being thought of as merely "quirky" helps the child (or the parents) in the long term.

I am not a fan of labels either and over the past year I have been questioning how I handled my difficult child's diagnosis years ago. However, if it hadn't been for at least one diagnosis and "label", my difficult child would not have received some of the help and therapy she did receive. And despite her diagnosis and classification at her schools, she was still mercilessly teased by her peers and treated indifferently by many of her teachers....they thought she was lazy and that I was making it all up.


Mom? What's a difficult child?
When K was at the Waldorf Program I tried to explain to them why we needed a diagnosis... for the therapies and how to treat her etc. I tried to explain that it didn't really matter to me, I love her quirky behaviors!!! I love her eccentricities, I have thought long and hard about the "magic pill" if I could completely "fix" her... I don't think I would want to... while I don't love the rages, the violence, the depression etc. I love her silly goofy off the wall sense of humor and crazy way she looks at things. Her father and I look at the world a lot like her though...

I don't know if I want her to "fit" in and be the melba toast kid!!!

I think we need the diagnosis and the label for the help that our kids need, does that change anything in our minds... hopefully we can get over that with time after the initial shock.
I also think with "No child left behind" and all of the time restraints and testing... there seems to be much less time for any of the kids easy child or difficult child to be individuals...

husband always says if we strike it rich we are hiring a full time teacher and traveling... no more public school. if only...

It would be nice to not need any of the diagnosis's or the medications...


New Member
marg's repsonse made me think of something.

in the us the idea 2004 talks about each child being treated as an individual and accomdations being made to the childs individuality but the biggest problem i find in my sd is that they lump Special Education into one mold(ie. behaviour problem, reading problem, speech problem) and truly don't treat them as individuals.

labels do get in the way. when the schools start to fully understand the 'individual'(or should we say unique) part of the equation then our kids will start getting the true help that they need.


Active Member
I think you're right, Coleen.

And Jo, you commented that the obvious special needs kid gets compassion and support, while people really judge the apparently 'normal' ones. I definitely agree with you there.

And Coleen - we do need to look at the individual but the trouble is, schools can't do this if they have too many kids to really take into the equation - too many individuals, all with their own quirks - school is about fitting these pegs into the same hole, by and large. Individuality and encouraging it - is too big a step away from conformity.

Society doesn't need conformity, but society produces conformity in every institution. That's why so often we need to use whatever label we have for our little individuals, in order to find somewhere that allows this individuality and associated creativity to flourish, instead of squashing it all in the name of conformity and ease of teaching.