Autism is a widespread condition and I have clients, friends and family who have been affected by this condition. Researching this subject and how to deal with the individuals affected can assist in coping with difficult relationships.
The following article is written by the mother of a son with Aspergers. High Functioning Autism and I am sure many can relate to this:
“There is a dark side to raising a child with these challenges. My son’s honest expressions can be downright mean. He will say that I am lazy. He will say that I don’t ever do anything. He will say that I am selfish or a hypocrite. Of course, he is a teenager and I am sure from his narrow perspective what he says is truth.
Meltdowns are more frequent now than in the past. The physicality associated with his meltdowns now reminds me of when he was 3, more than when he was 10. These meltdowns are more disturbing and scary in the body of a 5’11” young man than they were in a small child. The glimmers of the sweet boy I remember are few and far between.
There are a lot of aspects of life that we as humans do not include in the stories we pass down. We don’t talk about the messier and darker aspects of common life occurrences. A great example is our tendency to remain silent on the terrifying nature of postpartum depression and psychosis. We don’t want to admit that even the most joyful parts of life can come with a dark lining.
As a parent of an Aspergers child, I live in a strange world. Strangers do not understand and even from friends and family there can be a lot of judgment. I have been told that I am not consistent enough with my son. I have been told that I am not disciplined enough. Even when there is no overt comment, there is the change in body language, tone of voice and the distancing by people who are affronted by my son.
On the other hand, my son judges me as inadequate, unfair, lazy and hypocritical. He expresses hatred for the help that I sacrifice to give him. I stand in the middle making the decisions as best I know how. This is an emotionally draining position.
My NT son sees all of this and so he asks if I regret having my Aspergers Son.
“No!” I responded without hesitation, “Raising him is challenging and there are times that he can be such a jerk but I have learned so much about myself and life through this process. I have learned to look beyond the external and set aside a lot of my preconceived judgments. I have learned to make my decisions based on who I am and who I want to be, not based on what that decision will get from others in the way of approval, acceptance, etc. It has made me so much stronger. I am proud of the person I have become and if this is the road that it took to become this person, well that is fine. I love him because he is my son, not because of what he can give me and I believe that he is an amazing person traveling his own tough road.”
That statement reflects the decision I have made. I don’t always feel the feelings that would inspire that statement therefore I don’t despise the mother that said she hated her son. I am thankful that my NT son didn’t ask me 20 minutes earlier. I don’t know that I would have regained my balance enough to answer the way I did. Just because I don’t act on the dark moments doesn’t mean they don’t exist.
My Aspergers son is mismatched to the world we live in. It seemed that My son is the round peg to the outside world’s square hole. I thought I was accepting this fact.
I have realized that I my acceptance was conditional on a belief that I could fill in the gaps between the outside expectation and my son’s reality. I believed I could make the world accept my son and acknowledge his successes. I had a distorted perception of who I needed to be in my son’s life.
I can never do or be enough to make my son and the typical world’s expectations mesh. Accepting my limitations, opened a new path. Instead of seeing the world as rigid, I saw flexibility. As I expanded my view beyond the world of the public school structure, I could see the endless variations that our world allows. My role is to guide my son as he creates his path in this world and finds his purpose.
My Aspergers-son is an important part of my life, but he is not my whole life. I did not cease to exist when he was born. Additionally, there are other small lives in my care. The loudest need cannot drown out the other needs. My son and my typical children learn from how I live. How can I tell my son that I believe that he can be an independent adult and then do everything for him?
When I give my focus to the moment at hand, I honor all the parts of my life. My time with my husband is for him alone. My time with each of my children is sacred and preserved. The time I set aside for caring for myself is spent doing ONLY that. This is a practice I have yet to perfect but the practice alone has increased my self-awareness and increase the balance between the various aspects of my life.”