Thursday, April 27, 2006


I was working on a bunch of achievements with Will last night, in preparation for our next cub scout pack meeting. He's going into the Webelos group soon, so this is the last chance as a bear scout to earn arrow points, belt loops and pins. So I had this enormous list of things that we could do, relatively quickly, so that he could earn lots of awards before he goes on to the next stage.

The interesting thing about doing this was seeing what motivates him. He was SO SLOW with writing an email to somebody. Part of this was just a lack of keyboarding skills, and granted, email is somewhat new to him (What? A computer is for more than just playing "Age of Empires"?), but even slower was his ability to think of something novel to say in an email. He had to be spoonfed every idea, and I now know why his marks in library/computer skills are low. But anything that had to do with photography (he's never really used my digital camera before), or learning the characters for Chinese numbers (new languages are always interesting) -- THAT he does quickly! And he does it very well!

My question is -- how do you motivate a child to work on a subject that they aren't interested in? I can only imagine how often each day Will's attention shifts to purely listening to the air conditioner go off and on in the school, or the lawnmower outside his classroom window, or thinking about how bad he can't wait to get home to play his Playstation. Do guys like Will just have to basically wade through elementary, middle, and high school, through subjects they could care less about, and then hopefully, if they manage to make it into college, they are thrilled to be there because eventually they get to actually study the things they are truly interested in?


Sunday, April 02, 2006

Siblings of Asperger kids

I have been a little bothered by my daughter and her dwindling relationship with Will lately.

Lucky for me, I was able to go visit a wonderful friend of mine the other day while she was sick. She has told me in the past that she has a brother who was diagnosed in his very late teens as having Asperger's Syndrome. She is a very kind, thoughtful person, very social and easy to get along with. I enjoy listening to her descriptions of her brother, and know that I would instantly like this guy, who is now in his 20's and getting his Master's degree in Library Sciences (an excellent career choice, I would guess).

She spoke of the changes in her relationship with her brother as they were growing up. She is a more quiet person, but she would feel extremely protective of her brother when they were younger and he was teased, and she would get into fist fights to defend him. Her younger sister, it seems, was more bothered by his eccentric behavior, and just could not understand why he couldn't change the small behavioral characteristics that would get him into trouble with others. Even my friend said that she went through a period where she couldn't understand why he couldn't change certain things -- the hand-flapping, the sitting with his legs crossed (perceived as too feminine), the pendantic language, etc.

My daughter used to be so sweet to Will, and I always felt like she was his best therapist -- she was kind, fun, playful, and knew exactly how hard to push him into doing something he was reticent about doing, and when to leave off and let him be. She was great. I miss those days horribly. Now, she's still a sweet kid, but she pays much less attention to Will, is less tolerant, and she is just her typical teenage self. She's sarcastic (which has it's benefits -- in that he needs to learn firsthand what sarcasm is like, and how not all that people say is honest and true). She's snotty. When at church and she has opportunity to be loving and bring him into the group, she puts forth little or no effort. Her male friends, on the other hand, are very sweet to Will and like to include him into their group. I think it's the contrast between my daughter and her male friends at church that bugs me. If they can include Will in their activities, why can't she?

I now realize that this is just a natural occurence. My daughter is just acting like any teenager would in the same circumstance. She loves her brother. I just want the daughter back who loved Will unconditionally, who brought him into play situations with ease and yet understood what his needs are. I miss that daughter. This more recent daughter is not as much fun. She's still a great kid, but she's not as great as she used to be in this situation. I'm hoping that in a couple of years, she will be back. Right now, she thinks we are too easy on Will and don't demand enough of him -- and she's probably right. But, I think she's not giving enough and tolerant enough of Will -- and I'm probably right, too.


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