The Struggles and Triumphs of Aspergers Parenting

Last week I heard a 12 year old boy called Richard give a talk about his own experience of having Aspergers. I was at a two-day conference organised by Autism South Africa, where there was the usual line-up of speakers with long lists of letters behind their names. Yet—amongst all these highly educated and well-spoken adults—this courageous young boy’s talk stands out for me.

I believe this was because his talk highlighted, as never before, the dichotomy of living with an Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). This was the most evident at the end of his speech, when he took several questions from the floor. The answers to two specific questions stand out for me. The first question was: “What would you tell your classmates about your condition?” and the second was: “If there was a cure for Aspergers, would you take it?”

Richard’s answers reflect a great deal of the struggles, and yet also the triumphs of living with Aspergers.

In answer to the first question he said: “I’d tell them it’s not catchy.” And to the second question: “No, I wouldn’t take it. Because I think Aspergers is a difference, not a disorder.”

The same theme of struggle and triumph comes through in talking to fellow parents. One mom shared her sadness with the fact that her 16-year-old son never wants to go out with family or friends. All of them will go to a restaurant, but he will insist on staying home alone and eating a pizza. However, she is quick to point out how the people who have spent time and effort getting to know him, always really enjoy his company. He is direct and funny and refreshingly innocent.

Even my own emotions on leaving the conference, reflect this contrast. Hearing of the struggles young Aspergers adults have with choosing a career path, or entering the less structured tertiary education systems or workplace, leaves me with a sense that we still have many bumpy patches to navigate on our Aspergers parenting journey. Yet, I also have a renewed appreciation for just how unique and wonderful my daughter is, and what a privilege it is to be her parent (read a little bit more about our amazing daughter).

My desire in writing this blog is to highlight both these extremes—the difficulties and the delights. Each child on the spectrum is so very unique and every parent will have their own set of struggles and joys, but it is my hope that we will be able to share these, and offer each other support.

What is your greatest struggle and joy as a parent of a child on the Autism Spectrum?

 

 

 

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7 Comments

  1. Thank you for this perspective. I know someone who is autistic and these insights have helped me to understand her better and therefore I will be able to love her better. Thank you. Love, Ingi xxx

    • Thanks Ingi! What came across so wonderfully in the conference is how very unique each person with ASD is. I think the more you get to know and appreciate that uniqueness, the more they will trust you and ‘let you in’ allowing you to have a very special relationship with them.

  2. If there was a cure for Aspergers, I wouldn’t take it because I love myself and my world. It would never be the same.

    • We wouldn’t want you to take it either–you are perfect the way God made you!

    • Good for you Ashlyn, God chooses special people to face the adversity. You are so right not to change your destiny….. you have a very special purpose in life……….

  3. It is always so special to hear about children who have a difference and when asked if there were a cure would they take it – and then their reply being – “no”. Sam has always said that even if they came up with a cure for Type 1 Diabetes she wouldn’t take it, because this is what makes he special and unique! There are days were it is really hard and yet both Sam and Rebecca persevere on. I can imagine that it must also get challenging with Ashlyn, yet I know that she will do well, she has two amazing, caring parents. Thank you for a wonderful site and blog!

    • Thanks so much Lindie! Sorry it took me so long to spot your comment–I’m still getting the hang of this blogging. Our girls have their struggles, but it makes them stronger and more resilient.

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