Before my son was diagnosed with Asperger’s at the age of five, I already knew something was different about him. I would take him to the hourly care on post and I would have to prep him a lot. I would have to go over how he was supposed to act, what to do if he got frustrated and all of that. I would also let him know what his reward would be for having a good day. If I didn’t do this, it really increased his chances of having a bad day.
I suppose most parents might do this. They say preparing your child for where they are going to go or what they are going to do and what is expected of them is a good idea. For Drew it was a necessity. At the time we didn’t know why he acted the way he did. Why he didn’t want to play with the other kids. Why he didn’t understand why he had to lay down on a cot for nap time. Why he would get so mad when people were not playing the way he wanted them to.
When he was diagnosed, we finally understood why. I also found out that some of what I was doing with him was how you were supposed to parent a special needs child. I was thankful for this. There were other things we had to learn but it was nice to know we were already on the right track.
Now he is 8 and we have worked through a lot of issues. He used to fight us every morning on getting on the bus, now that is rare. He used to get into trouble a lot more at school than he does now. We are now working on him doing all the work he is supposed to do. I guess in his mind there is no reason for it but he is slowly starting to understand he needs to get it all done.
Even though I feel more prepared when we go out places, even though he gets the social rules a little more, I still worry that I will put him in a situation that he can’t handle. I wonder and worry how he will handle a summer camp. We are going to try it this summer and hope it goes ok. I know that if he is in a situation for too long he can get a little frustrated and start to act out, like at the Science museum. He can be fine for a while, you wouldn’t know he was any different and then just hits this point and it is time to go home.
Part of it is just being prepared and knowing what might happen. It’s a hard balance because sometimes it is easier to stay home and not take part in something because I know it might set him off. Coming to terms with the reality that he can’t do every single thing the same way as other kids do is hard. Seeing our family as a little different is hard. But isn’t that what parenting is all about anyway? Figuring out what works best for your own children, not some ideal child no one really has?
I try to take each day as it comes. I try to remember that how we are, what we are dealing with in the Spring of 2015 is going to be different from what we deal with in the Spring of 2016. Life changes, kids grow, kids mature and even with a kid with Asperger’s this is true.
I have found comfort in hearing the stories from parents with children older than our son is. They have helped pave the way for us as we look to the future. They help me squash my silly fears and give me hope on the bad days.