Alone Time for Teens with Aspergers is Crucial: Allow Them Their Space

Breathing room or ‘alone time’ is good for anyone, but for someone on the spectrum it is crucial. When Sam was very young I found myself, as his mother, wanting to arrange play dates with other children who were not exactly knocking on our door for playtime. My reasoning was he must be lonely, so I did everything in my power to elicit playmates. Offering the best snacks, coolest toys, or excursions to area attractions, but it didn’t take long before no one came around.

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My son was alone.

What I’ve come to realize is that this is alright with Sam. He really prefers time alone verses a party. Really. It was me who was projecting my ideas of companionship on him, a neuro-typical brain trying to outguess his autistic brain.

Aspergers, Nonverbal Learning Disorder (NLD), and Families

Parents of any child with differences struggle with feeling isolated. One of the challenges for families with Aspergers Syndrome (AS) and nonverbal learning disabilities (NLD or NVLD) children is that these children don’t look different. They’re bright and verbal; their quirkiness, sensitivities and apparent oppositionalism aren’t easy to understand. As a result, parents often feel blamed for their children’s special challenges. I know one mother who was told bluntly by her brother, “You must be doing something wrong. Give me two weeks with that kid in my house and I’d straighten him out.”

Kid having a tantrum

Parents are well aware that rigidity meeting rigidity doesn’t work and only leads to meltdowns. Aspergers and NLD children require unique parenting skills based on understanding, acceptance, and appropriate interventions. Blaming and punishment don’t make family life any better and don’t encourage positive growth in children. 

Gyms, Teenagers, and Asperger’s

Helping your teenager stay physically active and healthy

Your adolescent is getting taller, eating more, and gaining weight. It happens parents, our kids grow and eat more while moving less. Between school and therapies who has time for the gym, right? Well, unfortunately, we tend to place fitness in the back burner when in reality it should be in the forefront.

Teenager Workout

Our health should have as much importance to us as education or physical therapy or speech therapy. Adolescence is a great time to begin incorporating health and fitness and I will be discussing some quick pointers to help with that transition. 

Resources to Aid in High School to College Transition

Recently a reader of this blog asked that I provide advice about resources that exist to aid students with ASD as they transition from high school to college. When considering the transition, it is important to recognize several critical elements:

Graduation

  • It’s never too early for any student to begin planning for the transition, but early planning is critically important for students diagnosed with ASD
  • Practical, on-campus experience is helpful to the process
  • Teaching self-advocacy is vital

Helpful resources I’ve encountered include:

Overcoming Denial to Participate in Joy with Your Child

Denial Never Wins by Jessica Nieminski

It’s not easy to hear that your child is going to struggle in certain ways. The fear of the future can be downright paralyzing and while all children are perfect in their own way, it’s not what you dream up when you first think about having a child.

Denial

Nobody fanaticizes about therapists and sensory breaks. Instead you think about nursery bedding and buying cute tiny little shoes that your baby will truly never leave on. Having gone through a diagnosis process twice with my amazing and extraordinary loves, this is my best advice: “Denial Never Wins!”

Okay so let me explain, but first I need do a little storytelling. Stay with me, because I promise that this is going somewhere. The other day I was in the kitchen, all in my mom zone doing mom things, when my little cutie ran over to get me to do what he was doing. Not only did he run over, but he also invited me to join!

A Letter to My Daughter: Having a Sibling with ASD

There are so many moments in life that are filled with such amazing joy, and there are those that cause worry in the back of your mind. The kind that keeps you up at night and causes a pain deeper than you knew pain could go. While both of my children are my world, this is a letter to my 4-year-old daughter about her life, and how having a sibling with ASD affects her:

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Grace,

I see the look on your face when the day has stopped once again to tend to the same thing. The confusion I know you feel about the differences between yourself and your brother are very much real.

Hygiene and Social Skills: Mom seeking help towards a diagnosis

Q&A with LisaRogers

Q&A with Lisa Rogers

Q: Dear Lisa,

We think our daughter has Asperger’s. It’s all only her way and she bursts out laughing at very awkward times. She has no friends and doesn’t’ seem to care about her hygiene or people skills. I’m not sure where to go or what to do. We live in a rural area in Tennessee. Does the school or doctor’s office help? I’m reading online and found aspergers101 and it seems the closest to finding what is wrong.

-Mary Andrews, Greenbrier Tennessee

A: Dear Mary,

While I live in Texas, there are some federal guidelines that mandate certain functions at the state level that should provide some guidance to you and your family. Go to the following link for some initial information:

Lessons learned from kids with diverse abilities

I say diverse abilities because one thing that I have learned from working and playing with children and adults with developmental disabilities is that they understand more than neuro-typical children and adults do.

Five young friends jumping outdoors smiling

You may understand if you’ve ever heard the phrase “Dance like no one is watching.” and if you crave the freedom and joy that behaving that way can bring. They live their lives like no one is watching. They may not even have the ability to sensor their thoughts. This really brings a sense of freedom and joy that no one else (I know) can truly understand.

It is the rest of the world who has a problem with what a child like this does and says.  If society could be “okay” with this, than they could be “okay” with truly BEING authentic with who they are. These “children” taught me so much about being authentic and not worrying about what other people see or think. It was years later, when I became a mother again, that I realized just how much they taught me.

**This blog is a continuation from a previous post by Katherine Goodsell, you can find it here.

Looking back at the struggles and finding peace with the successes

Forward: Many years after childbirth the memory of the pain subsides and the first embrace of your child remains strong. You don’t forget the pain…but the thrill of your child’s arrival occupies the majority of your feelings.

The same has occurred with the maturing of my autistic son Sam. I found this brief blog (below) that I had written when he was still in early grade school. The feelings were still fresh and I thought I would re-post as many will relate to the raw feelings that have seemed to fade and the years roll on.

A doctor once told me, “With aspergers and high functioning autism, it gets easier for them, socially, as they age.” I have found this to be true!

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The story of Sam cannot be told with just a list of positive aspects. It is their lifetime of physical and mental struggle that you work to overcome for your child. Such is the daily journey of my son…one that my husband, youngest son and I take with him daily as he lives with a form of autism titled Aspergers.

Computer and Internet Safety for Children and Teens

Q&A with Lisa Rogers

Q: Dear Lisa,

My son is on the higher end of the autism spectrum and has no friends. He is on his computer constantly and I’m worried about the ‘friends’ he might be making online. I try to give him his privacy as he is in High school but I fear who these people are that he is gaming with. Any suggestions to relieve my fears and to get him ‘real’ friends or (gasp) girlfriends?

-Cynthia A, Dallas TX

A: Dear Cynthia,

As noted by the Crimes Against Children Research Center (2006), “The Internet holds tremendous potential for our nation’s youth, however, the misuse of the Internet to prey on them is a serious problem requiring action by legislators, families, communities, and law enforcement”.

While this is true for all children and teens, internet interactions can become even more of a complex issue for children and teens with an autism spectrum disorder.

The following link provides a comprehensive look into this area of need from the autism society: