I am the father of a son with Aspergers Syndrome and through the years of my wife and I raising him, it has had many challenges for me. As a father I wanted him to take interest in outdoor activities, sports and other things that we could do together but while he was not interested in these things there were other items of interest that I had to adapt to in order to spend the most amount of quality time with him.
While he may not have had interest in what I thought a young boy, now a man, “should” be interested in, he has opened my eyes to a different world that has brought us closer together over the years. I just had to be the one to approach his interests with an open mind and with the idea that these were things we could do as a father and son.
The many times that my son was being called names or bullied by his peers I had to be supportive and encouraging in creative ways, primarily to teach him how to ignore those and look forward to the future with special father and son times together.
Some words of advice from a father of an aspie:
- Learn to be a listener;
- Take interest in his activities, not those you think a young man should take interest in;
- Find things to do outside the home that you can teach him and he is interested in;
- Be supportive and patient, as typically those with Aspergers will find it difficult to relate to things we take for granted as well as conveying their thoughts in the same manner we are accustomed to;
- Above all, be a father as well as a dad, they will never forget the times you spend with them and the memories you are making.
by Herb Allen
The inspiration behind the documentary, Coping to Excelling: Solutions for school-age children diagnosed with High-Functioning Autism or Aspergers Syndrome, Sam offers his insights into the world of Autism through his blogs and input for aspergers101.com. Currently enrolled in college working toward a degree in Engineering, Sam enjoys spending his time building high-end computers, on-line gaming and even took time to build a low-powered FM Radio station for fun. Contributing guest writer on our Autistically Speaking Blog, Sam’s take on having Aspergers is: “Don’t think of Autism as a weight but more like wings in which to soar”. We would agree!
When you raise children on the spectrum (and with other challenges) life is full of unknowns and uncertainties. Our son, Daniel, was not officially diagnosed until the 5th grade. We knew the way he reacted to situations and approached learning in school was not typical. Every year, as he moved through Elementary School, I would talk with the teacher about his differences.
I tried to make the teacher aware of his challenges and offer my support. The teachers were generally dismissive – I always had the feeling that they felt I was being too protective and was over involved; a helicopter parent.
In addition to being a wife and the mother of three sons (and 2 dogs), Dr. Amy Mulholland has 20 years experience as an educator. Her middle son is on the spectrum and in an effort to figure out his life and learning experiences she sought to understand the emotional, social, and educational needs of children that learn differently. Amy has taught preschoolers, middle schoolers, and college students. Additionally, she worked as a parent educator, helping parents understand the unique needs of their children. Amy received her Doctorate of Education in Curriculum and Instruction (Social Education) from the University of Houston in 2009. Most recently, Amy works and volunteers for several local nonprofits that advocate for vulnerable children.
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.
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.
Yesterday was the kind of day that had brought so much emotion. Maybe it had more to do with the series of events leading up to it, but either way, that is where I had arrived. It was time for our night time routine and my son had earned a sleepover with me since he had enough stickers. Now, don’t judge: I am desperately trying out new things to encourage positive behaviors. This is our new method. Negative reinforcement just gets lost, there have been way too many treats given out, and this is what I have left. Anyway, after spending over an hour trying to convince him to clean up all the money from Monopoly that covered my kitchen floor, it was most definitely time for bed.
Every night I do our usual prayer and sayings, but last night was so different. I try to mix them up for a reason, but trust me, this does not ever go unnoticed when I do so. After we went through the whole routine I decided to just lay with him until he fell asleep.
It’s not that I don’t or haven’t had concern that my son has been diagnosed with ASD, it’s that some days it just hits all over again.
Jessica joins aspergers101 team of writers as a single mother of two extraordinary children who believes that all children deserve the love and acceptance that they give out. Follow Jessica in the Family section of aspergers101 and share in her personal stories as she will cry and laugh her way through life. Jessica blogs regularly on her site, My Extraordinary Child, a place where parenting is discussed, tears and sarcasm come to meet, and differences are celebrated. “Unless the world stops limiting opportunities for people of all abilities, I never will. Join me on a journey of tears, laughter, and courage”. -Jessica Nieminski