My oldest son Z is 15 years old. He is quiet, handsome, funny, sassy, quirky, and smart. Z looks completely normal from the outside but his brain works differently than most peoples. Z has Asperger’s Syndrome. Here is what WebMD.com says about Asperger’s Syndrome. Some children my have all of those characteristics, very few or even some of their very own which is what makes each and every Asperger’s person unique. There is a saying I feel that fits Asperger’s perfectly. If you have met One person with Asperger’s, You have met One Asperger’s person.
At home Z is in his comfort zone. This is where he prefers to be. He opens up a lot more in his comfort zone and is just a lot less withdrawn. He thrives on routine and gets upset when it changes. He is in many ways a normal teen. It’s almost 11 a.m. and he is still sleeping. But in a lot of ways he is not. He has troubles following multi-step directions, he has trouble finishing a task , he avoids eye contact, does not like people (even his family) touching him or anyone hugging him & he lacks impulse control (forgets to think before he does things. (Plus others quirks.)
When he gets overwhelmed with life, the noise level gets to loud, there are too many people around or any other sensory issue he is sensitive too he breaks down and cries… even to this day. Doesn’t matter where we are at home or out. That is how his meltdowns look and is our cue that he needs a break. Each Autistic child has their own specific way/kind of meltdown. Everyone’s meltdowns look/are different.
From infancy I knew Z was different. He never wanted to be held for long periods of time or snuggled. He preferred a bouncy seat or to be in his swing. He was very sensitive to who held him and who talked to him. As soon as he was old enough I would take him to playgroups and he would not even notice the other children but go play off in the distance by himself. We have found that Z does interact a lot better with very young children or adults but he is very choosy who he chooses.
School has been tough for Z because of the numerous children constantly around him, teachers who make him uncomfortable because they talk to him, loud noises, kids bumping in to him all of which is sensory overload for him. Sitting in a chair hour after hour is also very tough for him. Especially considering Z also has ADHD. Z has a 504 plan at school to help him be successful and to help his teachers understand how he learns. I could and will write a whole another post about dealing with the school, getting & fighting for what Z needs and the accommodations he deserves at school.
Z avoids conversation especially with new people and rarely makes eye contact with anyone. He has a lot of difficulty with back and forth conversation. If you ask him a question he will answer but then that is the end for him. I always feel the need to explain to people that he is not being rude he just does not understand the social cues that are being thrown at him. His brain works differently. Interacting with people makes him uncomfortable so he tries to get out of any conversation as fast as he can.
Z is now a freshman in high school. I couldn’t tell you if he has a friend or any friends. He never talks about any even when prompted. But for him making friends or having friends is not important. It is not even on his radar. He goes to school because we make him. My husband and I feel he tries to stay under any radar or tries be invisible so he doesn’t have to encounter any kind of social interaction that would make him uncomfortable. If it was up to him he would stay home everyday. He holds his own at school but since he dislikes school he doesn’t put forth his full potential.
Having a child on the spectrum is not easy but Z has taught me how to be a great advocate and to not let others push him around or ignore him cause he is different from his peers. Many people have never even heard of Asperger’s. I feel the need to educate any one who will listen. Z is an amazing person and I always wish that he would let more people into his little world. Because once he lets you in you can see how Awesome he is.
I am not an expert in Asperger’s or Autism. I just wanted to share our experience with having a child on the spectrum.