Q: “Many people see children with Asperger’s and they don’t understand that their needs are lifelong. They don’t see that even if you watch your child succeed at a young age, there will be new territory to navigate as they get older and new situations arise.” This is so true, my son was diagnosed with Aspergers in the 90’s when there was not a lot of “buzz” about it. He did okay, but now as an adult he seems to be having difficulty especially with anxiety and confidence. I am worried for him, and keep directing him towards counseling, but he hasn’t yet. Any suggestions?
I can completely relate to this. Near the end of my high school days, I garnered several accomplishments and awards, but college was a completely different ballgame, especially since I was four hours away from home. Once I got out of college and moved back home, the working world was a completely different situation as well, and I struggled mightily at times. Each new job, new relationship, and new situation is a challenge, but an opportunity as well. Fortunately, my family could not have been more supportive of me over the years.
When I was first having problems out of college, my Mom directed me towards counseling, but I just didn’t want to go. I wish I had now, because the insights from a counselor could have been more helpful than I realized. As it was, I was left to fumble around in the dark, trying to figure things out. You can direct your son towards counseling, but as the expression says, “You can lead a horse to water….” If he goes because he has to, he may not hear anything the counselor says. If and when he goes, it has to be his choice. This may be disappointing to hear, but you can only do so much for someone.
Is your son on social media? If so, there are many groups specifically dedicated to autism and Asperger’s in particular. For me, these groups have served as a type of group therapy, and might help your son see that he is not alone in his struggles. For instance, someone will asked a question on one of the threads such as, “Do you avoid this or that social situation,” or “What would you do if faced by such and such dilemma?”
If he joins these groups, he can contribute if he’d like; if nothing else, it might help him put his own issues in perspective. You might want to go to Facebook, for example, and put “Asperger” or “autism” in the search engine and see what you can come up with. By the way, these groups, aren’t necessarily just for those on the spectrum. Several times, parents join the group looking for advice, or just validation.
Also, what are your son’s talents and interests? You might encourage him to go online and look up information on things that appeal to him, because you never know where this may lead. For example: Years ago I was looking up articles on Survivor, one of my favorite shows. I found a website that posted articles on the show, as well as other reality t.v. shows. Since I liked the show and liked to write, I submitted an article to them. They liked it, posted it, and to make a long story short, I ended up writing for the site for about 10 years before it shut down. No, I didn’t get paid, but I got the byline, and became friends online with many of the other writers. Some of the writers I still keep up with even several years after the website ended. Hopefully, your son can find people with similar interests to his.
Best wishes, and hope my answer helps!
Ken Kellam III was diagnosed with Asperger Syndrome in his late 30’s, and has worked with Autism Treatment Center of Texas since 2003. He is currently the administrative assistant to the clinical director. He also helps facilitate three different self-advocate groups, and in the Spring of 2015 was presented with the “Angel Award” by the National Autism Association of North Texas for the works he has done with these groups. He has also done public speaking on the subject of autism/Asperger syndrome, and has spoken to various educational and parental groups. When not involved with autism, Ken has led the singing at the same church since 1988, and has also been the fill-in preacher at this same church. In 2006 he was called on to sing the National Anthem at the Autism Society of America’s national convention in Dallas, and performed the same song at ATC’s rodeo fundraiser. He also enjoys writing, and formerly wrote articles for a website dedicated to reality television. In 2011 he got married for the first time, and his wife Rachel works for ATC in Adult Services. Ken graduated from Oklahoma Christian University in 1987 with a Bachelor’s in Mass Communications, and once worked as a radio traffic reporter, interactive announcer and writer, and news producer in Dallas. He views Asperger’s as a difference, not a defect, and has come to appreciate the positive aspect’s of Asperger’s.