The Roller Coaster of Raising a Child with Asperger’s
This Chelmsford mom talks about her experiences of raising a child with Asperger’s.
Last month I shared with many readers that my son, Ryan, has Asperger’s. Asperger’s falls on the Autism Spectrum. Sometimes it is tough; really tough.
There are times when Ryan can get stuck on thoughts that come into his head. Lately he gets stuck on thoughts of trains and buses. It may be a picture he has seen or just a random thought that comes into his head, but whatever it is, it is exhausting for my husband and me because there is no way to stop his thoughts from consuming his mind.
When he gets a thought in his head, he needs it to be brought to life instantly. This is not a child who is acting spoiled or simply wanting to get his way. It is more than that; it is a type of rigidity and obsession that I cannot understand most of the time. It is just plain hard.
Is this what they mean when they say “brain difference”?
This past weekend he did not understand why we couldn’t spend the entire day riding the different subway lines. It started with asking for a map of the subway lines, and then it grew into something that he already planned out in his head.
“First we will start with the red line, then transfer to the green line," he says. “Hmmm…," he wonders, “Do you think we can connect to the silver and blue lines from the green?" “I don’t know Ry, maybe,” I tell him. “But why don’t you know?” “I just don’t. Let’s look at the map.”
After studying the map for several hours, he tells me that tomorrow we are going to spend the day riding all these different train lines. “Ry, we can’t do that tomorrow." “”But why not? “We have other stuff to do tomorrow. I promise you we will do this one day. Perhaps in the summer, when school is out we can spend the day doing that." "Ok, well how many days is that?" "I am not sure."
He gets out a calendar. He counts the days until the end of June. After four hours of this I am exhausted by his constant need to want to talk about the subway system and all the different stops. He cries for hours because we can not bring him on his subway journey right away.
The guilt starts to settle in and I start feeling horrible. How can I blame him or punish him for these thoughts. They are so innocent to him and make so much sense in his world. But I am angry, annoyed, and tired of constantly figuring out how to get through his latest obsession. I am not angry at him, just angry at the thoughts that overtake his mind.
As I sit here and write this, I think about our victory tonight and I am overwhelmed with emotion. Tonight my brave Ryan stood up in front of a room of about 100 people and told them all clearly his name, his age and what he liked to do. For some, this may not be a big deal, but for Ryan it was huge.
Tonight he received his yellow belt in karate. Each child in his age group was given the option of speaking to the audience. Ryan CHOSE to speak. He stood up there with amazing confidence and spoke. I was truly amazed at his ability to follow the class, stay focused and most importantly, he was having fun!
Today was a great day for him. Our rollercoaster continues. I don’t want to get off the ride, perhaps just slow it down a little. Tonight it did slow down.
This is our normal, our reality, our Asperger’s.