Friday, August 09, 2013

Aspergers and Happiness

I had a great breakfast today with two friends who live on my street.

One friend has a son, five years older than mine, who is on the spectrum.  The other friend has a son in my son's grade in high school, and although he is not diagnosed, he has many, if not all, of the same issues that my son has.

We were talking about our sons' lack of need for friends.  Here it is, summer time, and we watch our other children socializing and doing stuff and out of the house all of the time.  Then we look at our sons who are at home, wondering why they don't feel the need to get out and be with people.  We wonder why they are fine with staying at home, and all the socialization they need is a good game on Xbox.

Thing is, THEY ARE HAPPY.  We may not be -- we may be concerned that they don't leave the house, that they aren't going out to eat or hang out with friends.  This bothers us, as their parents.  We just can't relate to it.  But if we are concerned with our sons, it has more to do with OUR needs and less to do with our son's needs.

I guess I would love to see my son run off to college in a year, into a sea of guys and girls just like him. I would LOVE that.  I would love to see him comfortable, and with people who like to do the same things that he likes to do.  I would LOVE to see him interacting and feeling part of a group.

My son, though?  What does he want?  He's actually pretty happy with the way things are.  He's always happy.  He's always content.  I guess he just doesn't need that much.  Sure, he would like to have people to interact with -- but it's not a NEED like it is with other people not on the spectrum.

Once, we sent my son to a church camp for four days, held at a local college.  He was going to room with people he didn't know, and he was going be doing all sorts of stuff that he had never done before (dances, classes that he chose to attend, etc.).  I was nervous, but I wanted him to try this experience so that he could see what college was like.  He texted me that first night, telling me about all the shenanigans that he and his fellow campers were getting up to.  He never did go to a dance, but he had a great time playing board games with a bunch of kids.  He was walking to and from classes when it was raining, with an umbrella, and had girls walk with him to stay dry.  After a few days, he texted me "So this is what you've been telling me is so great about college!!!!"   Yeah, that was a great day FOR ME.

He hasn't socialized very much since then.  That was a year ago.  But that doesn't mean he isn't capable of having this same experience again.  It will just be on his time, on his schedule.  It won't be my kind of social experience, but it will work for HIM.

I finally realized, this year, that it isn't about my kind of social life -- because that's probably not ever going to work for my son.  He can't take the noise, he doesn't understand the conversational mores, and he doesn't have the burning need to BE WITH PEOPLE.  But if he can go to college and find some like-minded people to goof off with for a few years, well, I'll be a happy mother.

Labels: , , , , , , ,

Tuesday, August 06, 2013

social skills help at

My daughter, who is 22 yrs., is home for the summer between finishing her undergrad degree and going off this fall for her grad degree.  She was teaching my son's age group at our church this last weekend.  In the process of asking her how that went, and what the kids were like, etc., I asked how her brother acted in class.

She said "He is really overly-opinionated, and when he spouts his opinions, with little or nothing backing them up, everybody else rolls their eyes at him."

Ever seen this happen with your kid?  Have you ever done this yourself?

Often, I think that my son is actually doing better than he really is, socially.  I think it's my way of putting my head in the sand -- if I'm not observing it directly, then he must be doing fine.  But I know that he is overly opinionated -- especially about politics -- and if people on the spectrum are about 3 years behind socially than their peers, then this kind of lack of social skills makes my son (and others) look childish and borish.  I can say this, because I'm pretty sure I have done the same thing in my life -- except I was probably older and should have known better.

So tonight, we had a big talk as a family about NOT spouting opinions, especially when you don't have facts to back up that opinion.  We talked about declarative statements, and how they lead to arguments. We talked about how couching your opinion in ways that are not aggressive lends itself to constructive conversation, and doesn't make people think you're stupid, and doesn't make the person you're conversing with feel attacked.  I tried to make it clear to my son that I try REALLY HARD to not open my mouth about things like politics unless I've read a lot on the subject, and watched the news, and looked up words or policies that I don't understand [which is often!].  My daughter and I role-played back and forth to show my son the difference between spouting unfounded opinions, and people's response to this -- and couching your opinions in language that is conversational and shows that you're open to learning new things from others, allowing a free-flow of ideas and improving relationships with people of differing opinions.  I tried to make him understand that if he is quiet, and waits to talk until he has something legitimate to say, backed up by numerous FACTS from a good source (newspaper, magazine, news program, etc.), people will take him seriously and may even come to respect him.

Tonight I was online looking for possible resources for this type of social problem, and I came across this website:

This is a site that has numerous articles on social skills subjects, written by a guy who used to be shy and socially awkward.  He has a background in psychology and counseling, but he says he's no authority on the subject -- he's just observed people a lot, and has improved by making sense of these observations -- and wanted to pass what he has learned on to other people.

I'm going to read these articles, and have my son try reading them as well, to see if it helps him to makes sense of some of his social skills that still need fine-tuning.  I have a funny feeling that many of the articles will deal with issues that came up tonight with my son and his "opinion" problems.

Labels: , , , ,

Hit Counters