Twenty-Nine: Blue By You

I’ve been thinking a lot about my childhood and how my actions reflected those of a child with Aspergers. I keep getting pulled back into a time period when I was about ten years of age. I was still rescuing animals then. Not that there was much I could do to help, but to love them.

One day the animal was a bird, near death, whose eyes were cold by morning. Another day a snail that had lost its shell. The one I remember the most is the butterfly. She was a monarch. I found her in the gutter on a rainy-walk home from school. Her wings were tattered, and she was nearly drown. I carried her home, cupped in the safety of my hands. I named her Jolie—for her beauty.

I placed her in a cleaned-out pickle jar and watched her in awe, as she stuck out her black tongue and lapped the sugar-water from a small lid. Her little wings were cast in masking tape. I watched her through the night; ever so often turning on the light and checking on her. I loved her. She survived a full day in the warmth of my affection. When she  passed, I buried her in the backyard under a fig tree and gave her a short sermon. This is the little girl I was, so remarkably sweet and hopeful. I wish to go back to her, to her room, to kneel down at her side, and say:

“I love you. I love you so very much. You are so beautiful. So kind. So thoughtful. And I am sorry that you carry such a burden. I know how painful it is to love with all of your heart. I know how painful it is to want to help and to not know how. But you are helping. You are helping more than you  know, my precious one. Look at me. Do you see what you have become. You are going to be a mommy someday, with your own family, and you are going to have what you need to take care of them. But precious child your journey into adulthood will be very hard. There will be times you want to give up. So many times. And you will take many years to find your way. But you will. You will. I promise you that. And when you do, so much will make sense. And you will cry, cry so very hard, like you are now with losing your beloved butterfly. But I will be waiting. I will be knowing that you will survive. That you will be strong. That you will love with all of your heart and get that love back ten-fold. You of all people, shall be loved. I will be here waiting on the other side of time, with my arms wide open. And when we meet again, in dream and in prose, I will embrace you, like no other. Thank you. Thank you for being you and going onward. Thank you for being so brave and so very strong. You are my living angel. And I breathe for you.”

 

 

Twenty-Eight: Giving a Child with Aspergers a Break

 

Giving a Child with Aspergers a Break

Be. Let the words pour out of the child. Let the busy thoughts escape the mind. Let him speak as long as he wants about whatever he wants. Set no time limits. Welcome the rambling, digressions, repetitions, and dissertations. Be present, without interjection or correction. Allow time periods with no communication rules, lessons, examples, rights, or wrongs. Let the child release the pressure in his mind. Take long walks and car rides together, and just listen. Let him be himself.

Retreat. Grant her a day of rejuvenation, a full day with no visitors, appointments, outings, sports, or any mandatory doings. Keep the day free of all restrictions, chores, and obligations. Stay in pajamas. Allow escape, isolation, and repetitive activities. Give her the chance to rebuild her stamina. Provide solitude and comfort. Stay home from school one day. Peel away the rules and regiment. Let her retreat.

Environment. Ask about sensory concerns in the environment. What causes you discomfort in this space? How are the lights? The chair? The sounds? The smells? The flooring? The pictures? How do your clothes feel? Your hair? Your skin? Where is there discomfort? How can I help? What does it feel like? Describe it. How is the shower? The bath? Do you hurt? Where do you feel the safest sitting? What is hard to tolerate? Do you need sunglasses? A pillow? Earplugs? Let him create a more comfortable environment for himself.

Active Interest. Show interest in her special interest. Don’t call it an obsession or fixation. Call it an interest or passion. Participate. Explore and collect. Be together. Establish a schedule. Make the special interest a priority. Place the passion in a spotlight of acceptance. Establish a blog, newspaper, journal, comic, drawing, song, rhyme, act, or other creative outlet to express the interest. Let the creativity blossom. Welcome the opportunity for connection. Let go of the need to control, fix, alter, or end the special interest. Replace objection with acceptance. Replace disinterest with interest. Celebrate new discoveries. Use the interest as a therapeutic tool. Allow him the freedom to escape from the challenges of his world.

aKnowledge. Acknowledge characteristics, talents, skills, and intelligence. List positive attributes. Don’t pretend anything is easy. Be a warrior and teach how to be a warrior. Don’t try to change the child. Imagine how scary his world is. Tell him he is very brave. Tell him he is not alone in the world. Share others’ stories. Find an adult with similar challenges who is an effective role model. Watch movies about Aspergers. Know the child wants nothing more than to be good, to do good, and to feel good. Explain that he is never a failure and always a success. Tell him you hope he tries his best, but on the days he doesn’t feel like he can try, that’s okay. Tell him he has a right to hurt and be scared. Tell him he is a gift and that there is nothing he can do to make you stop loving him. Tell him he is perfect. Tell him even though you aren’t him, you can imagine how hard life must be for him. Ask how he is feeling. Never minimize or discount. Never say it’s not that bad or things could be worse. Say you are getting stronger and wiser every day. Believe in him.


© Everyday Aspergers, 2012. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. https://aspergersgirls.wordpress.com.  spectrumgirls@gmail.com
This article may be printed for  home and school use. Please keep the Everyday Aspergers© on the printed page. Thank you.

Day Nine: For All the Times You Wouldn’t Hold Me (Undiagnosed Father with Aspergers)

Day Nine: For All the Times You Didn’t Hold Me  (Undiagnosed Father with Aspergers)

I first wrote this excerpt several years ago, when I was not yet diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome, and had no reason to look for traits in my father. The short vignette shows remarkably well the earmarks of Aspergers: the lack of affection, emotional distance, need for order, obsessive hobbies, and self-interest. I am thankful I documented my personal experience with an innocent perception. In rereading and sharing this truth, I am further healed and graced with a deep understanding of my father navigating through life the best he knew how.

For all the times you couldn’t say it: I love you, Dad.

And for all the times you wouldn’t t hold me: I forgive you.

Father

Though I was deemed a full-fledged adult by all societal standards, the late summer day I strolled into my father’s house hauling a large plastic sack of weathered stuffed animals and my plastic piggybanks, I was still very much a child.  In the previous years, had I been afforded ample time with my father, I might very well have exuded a glowing aura of self-confidence and formidable strength, instead of the bubble of palpable vulnerability I steadily emanated…

(available in the book Everyday Aspergers)