Aspie Digest – December 1, 2005
I’m currently plowing through this book called “Parenting Your Asperger Child”, by the Drs. Alan Sohn and Cathy Grayson. It was recommended to me by a few people in our local Aspergers support group. The most interesting part of the book to me, so far, has been chapter 3 – “Identifying Asperger Subtypes”. It lists all the different variations of Asperger kids. I have determined I12 to be a “Logic Boy” and myself as a kid/teen to have been a “Predominately Fantasy Child”. The description of the fantasy child fits my childhood personality to a T:
“As he is eating dinner, sitting in class, doing his homework, or talking to you, there is another tape playing in his head. And this tape is all about fantasy. He does word-for-word scripting of dialogue and scenes in his head, combines different ones together, or makes up his own based on something he has seen or read.”
This is the story of my childhood! My poor Mom had to hide my favorite books from me when I was a kid. Of course, the authors go on to add, “Medication is almost always necessary”. Whew, thank God this book wasn’t available in the USSR in the 70’s, and I have managed to grow up without meds.
The book’s last chapter, “Teaching the Asperger student”, could be helpful to parents like me (and schools like my son’s) that have no clear plan on how to make adjustments for an Asperger student in school. My impression from the book, however, has been that it mainly deals with younger children (and I cannot think of a way to apply it to my teen), and the underlying assumption seems to be that the students are all in a Special Ed setting. Only in the very end does the book mention “unsupervised mainstreaming”.
My impression in general has been that the book is about “how to make your Asperger kid normal”, whereas I haven’t yet decided whether I even want to “make him normal”. He may have better chances of having a fulfilled life and making a better contribution to society just the way he is, except with a few minor improvements. Even if I’m wrong here, I don’t want to make him into someone completely different, which in my opinion is what the book teaches the parents to do. Then again, I may have missed a few fine points, since I was reading this book and Harry Potter novels at the same time.
Our Trials and Tribulations
I12 and I are going to meet the Locally Famous Therapist next Tuesday. Keep your fingers crossed. The woman takes my medical insurance, but not my mental-health one. I spent quite some time on the phone with both insurance companies, and judging from the information I got, it is possible to get coverage in this situation, but it won’t be easy. If we do not get coverage, we’ll have to leave after a few months and find somebody else, unless of course I win the lottery, which is highly unlikely since I’m not playing.
I have a lot of questions for the new therapist, hope that I will get answers.
I12 is currently happily merged with his computer. He takes turns programming and playing video games, but mostly programming, or else he’s designing new algorithms. I haven’t seen him doing anything else (except for homework) for a while now. He lost all contact with humanity since he disconnected himself from Newgrounds BBS and from the Internet a few weeks ago. I miss his posts on NG BBS, they were interesting and different and used to brighten up my day in a weird way.
He wants to start his own software company, design, develop, and sell computer games, and become rich. To that end, he started developing games. Very soon, he realized that it would be even better to develop a game engine, complete with its own scripting language, that would allow users to develop their own games. So he started working on that. Then he decided to write his own programming language, and use that to develop the game engine. After about a month of that, he decided that first, he needs to create his own operating system, “because Windows sucks”. (I don’t exactly disagree with the second part, but, really!) Next thing we know, he’s taken his computer apart and is making hardware changes, to accommodate the new operating system. Long story short, the computer still works, although it no longer fits in the case and is currently kinda spread all over I12’s desk; the programming language is in the works, and can already be used to program simple math operations and display “Hello, world!”; and I am not sure where I12 is on the operating system.
While this approach faschinates me, I am afraid that it won’t get him anywhere. Any advice for the young programming wiz? He’s using C++.
I have made a futile attempt to coolify I12 by growing his hair. Then, when I took him in to get his hair trimmed, a terrible miscommunication occurred, resulting in I12 getting a short , preppy-boy haircut. I think it gives him a somewhat dorky look. I12 says it’s fine, and that in fact he likes it better as it’s more comfortable. (He also added that what he’d really like to do is shave his head – sorry, ain’t gonna happen!) Same thing with his clothes – the more comfortable, the better. He likes his T-shirts plain, with no prints on them. I must be the strangest parent in the universe, trying to get my son to look cool against his will. I want him to have the latest hairstyle, clothes, etc. (Well, not the overpriced designer clothes, but, you know – just so he doesn’t stand out in the crowd.) I also want him to take good care of himself, brush his hair, basically make sure he looks decent. I’m coming from my own experience as a weird kid. I see the “in” clothes and haircuts as a camouflage of sorts. If you look like everybody else on the outside, then you can be yourself on the inside. If you look funny, then the kids will laugh at you and tease you, and being a weird kid already, you don’t really need any more of that. Worked for me as a teen. I had to struggle with my parents constantly over this. I remember my Mom insisted that I kept my hair cut short, which was the 70’s fashion. Too bad it was the 80’s. I begged her to let me cut my bangs and grow a bob, but Mom told me, and I quote, “I cannot let you do this, because this haircut only looks good on very pretty women.” Oh well, I came home from school one day and cut my own bangs. It turned out horrible, but eventually the bangs grew back very nicely. By the time I was 16-17, I managed to more or less blend in. That helped greatly.
The book I’m currently reading actually backs me up on this (although I could not find the quote).
Too bad I’m in this alone. I12 doesn’t care. Then again, he doesn’t object to any of my experimenting, either. Whatever clothes I bring home from the store are fine by him, as long as they’re comfortable enough and no pink is present. Anyway, his cute long emo hair is gone. If anyone has pictures of long hairstyles for teen boys, please send me a link so I can print out the picture and show it to the stylist next time.
The “reading-then-quitting-church” deal is not working out at all. First, we all had to miss two weeks of church because I was getting tons of calls from work on the weekends. Then we finally made it to church, and I left I12 in the car with his required reading. We came back two hours later to find I12 sleeping like a baby. He had been asleep the entire time. The Sunday after that, I12 pulled one of his last-minute cancellations. That is, he got up on time, took a shower, got dressed, came downstairs, and announced that he wasn’t going. There isn’t much I can do to stop him when we’re running late and I have the second kid all dressed and ready to get in the car, sweating in his jacket and church clothes. We just left I12 behind and went without him. He has done no reading, and I have no idea what to do next, other than throw in the towel and cancel our deal. One thing for sure, I definitely don’t want him back in church and in his Sunday school class, since he no longer believes in God and I don’t want him confusing other kids.
In school, I12 has been getting good feedback. There are no special programs or IEPs or accommodations, other than the teachers agreeing to some of I12’s quirks (these saintly women have my admiration), as well as appealing to his sense of logic when they want to make their point to him. He got decent grades on his report. None of us really know what needs to be done in this situation. Maybe the new therapist could give some advice geared specifically at I12. I have found that recommendations made for some abstract Asperger kid do not apply to him very well.
These are pretty much the things I want to discuss at next week’s appointment. Of course, there are always the lofty goals such as “getting I12 to play sports”, “making it so I12 has lots of friends”, but in reality, I may as well say that I want I12 to go on a space trip – the odds of it actually happening are about the same. So I’m going to start small and see where it takes us.