We have two boys, age 13 and 20. Our youngest was diagnosed with ADHD and Aspergers (now ASD, Autism Spectrum disorder) about 2 years ago. I grew up in a religious atmosphere that didn’t make room for much of what we know of psychology, especially child psychology and things like Autism. My husband grew up in a working class family that by nature just wasn’t aware of these things either. (Nothing against either of these situations, it was what it was!) So when our youngest son started having trouble in school academically and socially in second grade, it caught us off guard. Our first son was passing through school just fine. Eventually he graduated in the top 10% of his class with many friends and socially well-adjusted.
My husband and I would agree that both of our boys are highly intelligent, and after our older son’s success in school, we were not expecting to have any difficulties, especially in this area. Continue reading “An Unexpected Journey Into the World of Autism”
Autism can be a difficult season of parenting. The tantrums, obsessing about a specific line of toys or objects, the endless lectures – and that’s if your kid is verbal. All that and then you throw in absolutely no social filters….and then puberty.
Parenting a child in the throes of puberty is hard enough without autism. Autism brings with it a certain difficulty that most parents of tweens and teens just don’t understand.
When my son Sam (now 21) was going through puberty, thanks to his high-functioning autism and no sense of social filter, he was in trouble a lot for inappropriate touching, ohh-la-la cattle calls, whistles – even commenting that a teacher looked particularly fine a particular morning.
Parents of male teens with autism, listen: your son (more than likely) has a very typically-developed sex drive. The problem is the lack of social filter (because of the autism) makes him do things that all teen boys think of doing but don’t – usually. This makes a male with autism particularly at risk of being bullied by other males and targeted by sexually adventurous teen girls.
Now before we lock up all our young men with autism, there are ways to cope with this. Continue reading “Navigating Puberty and Autism”
This morning was a tough one.
I was up until almost 4:00 AM with my son. In the haze of perseverating chatter about computer builds and salt water tanks, I was struck at around 3:00 AM, at how little my life has changed. It’s been 13 years since my son was a newborn, and yet many nights feel exactly the same.
Sleeping for short stretches, only to be awakened by the needs of a child I love dearly – but just is not equipped to sleep – is a constant in my life.
Mothering a child on the autism spectrum can be so, so tiring. Literally. So tiring. Continue reading “Autism, Sleep Deprivation, and How We Cope”
Just the other day, for the first time I said, “I am a special needs mom.” You would think after parenting for 21 years, and my youngest being 11 years old, that those words would have been said before.
Actually, I grew up in the special needs community. My older brother has Downs Syndrome. Forty years ago my mom went against the norm and brought my brother home to live instead of an institution.
With these life experiences, you might think I would have avoided the pitfall of island-living but sadly, in the throes of survival, I even encouraged it to happen.
Yes, it became easier to stay home and ignore the need for social interactions.
When most people do not know what to say or how to handle meltdowns or medical issues it becomes easier to avoid public situations.
You stop looking for group activities and you stop inviting people over to your house. If the one time you make an attempt to connect, you find yourself to only be judged by your parenting skills, you cringe even more about seeking people to be part of your life.
Then Sunday morning becomes a battle and no longer a safe place with triggered meltdowns. If the Sunday school teacher would just understand your child will not touch glue or get his hands dirty.
Before long you realize you were so worried about your child making friends, YOU you don’t have any. You are alone on your island. Continue reading “Life on an Island Without a Tribe”
My son with Aspergers syndrome just turned ten. That means I’ve been a special needs parent for over seven years.
As I sat down and thought about how I cope, a few basic principles came to mind.
- Learn how to speak to your child. I wrote an entire blog post on this recently. How and what we say to our special needs child can make a big difference. For example, many children with developmental delays have difficulty with who, why, and how. If I ask my son “Why did you like that?” most times I get “I don’t know.” If I reword my question to “What did you like about that?”, then my chances of getting an answer greatly increase. Additionally, most often our kids benefit from short sentences and fewer words. There are lots of things fighting for their attention—the scratchy sweater, the dishwasher noise in the background, the pattern of your shirt. Cut back and you’ll have more success. Finally, you may have to learn to talk in a different style. When my son was younger he was very good at tuning me out. I learned if I sang I got a faster response, because it was a different voice and he also wanted the singing to stop.
Continue reading “Top 5 Coping Tips for Special Needs Parenting”
There’s a saying I have heard tossed around here and there.
“Once you’ve met one person with autism…..you’ve met one person with autism.”
The more I think about this and the more I learn about autism, the more I know the truth of this statement. Just as in any other area of life or when thinking about personalities of other people, those on the autism spectrum are not what we might call “cookie cutter”. Each person is unique. Lovingly created and crafted by the One true God who loves us. A diagnosis of autism will not change that, and coming to terms with this fact early on has given me a great sense of relief and acceptance of our daughter’s diagnosis. As my husband said when we first began to seek help and a diagnosis,
“She is still the same little girl.”
He was not wrong. Getting a diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder and auditory processing disorder did not change our daughter’s personality, her identity, our love for her. It did not and does not change who she is. She is a child lovingly crafted by the king of kings, a sweet girl and a blessing to our family, who has a very specific purpose on this earth. Continue reading “Understanding Autism and Identifying Red Flags”
Are you the parent of a child who has been diagnosed with autism? Perhaps you are a grandparent, sibling, uncle or aunt of a child with autism. Quite possibly, you don’t have a diagnosis for your child yet but you have seen some red flags of autism and want to learn more. No matter which category you fit into, you desire direction about what to expect as a family living with autism. You are in need of tools that will help you cope with tantrums, sensory issues, quirks, lack of verbal communication, transitioning your child into adulthood, getting a diagnosis, and more. It is my hope that this series, Coping Skills for Families Living with Autism, will encourage and equip you through each daily experience as you do your best to parent your child on the spectrum.
To help me to encourage and equip you, I have asked several other bloggers to join me for this series. Not only has their initial response of “yes” wowed me, but I am amazed at the wonderful encouragement and helpful tips they each have included in their posts, each one written to reach families living with autism just like yours.
Throughout the series you will also be able to visit this page to find the newest post linked below, as well as any previous posts that you may have missed. Or feel free to check the blog each day to find the newest post at the top of the page.
Click to Continue reading “Coping Skills for Families Living With Autism”