Prepare to enter the wild and wooly world of an adult with Aspergers Syndrome, a form of autism characterized by intellignce, quirks, social difficulties and downright strange and oddish behaviours.

People with Aspergers generally are high functioning in everyday life but have great difficulty connecting with others due to the inability to read faces, body language and subtle verbal clues. They also tend to take words literally and have a hard time multi-tasking.

Oversensitivity to touch (clothing has to be soft and often the tags removed), light (do not leave home without the sunglasses), sound (loud noises and noisey places are avoided), taste (many Aspies have quite a limited diet and are frequently very picky eaters) and smells makes the everyday existence more of a challenge.

Fasten your seatbelts and come on in...
To find out more about what Aspergers is..please check out my earliest blog entries

Friday, January 29, 2010

Clean Your Room

Oh, it sounds so simply...tell your child to go and Clean Your Room..Unfortunately, unless you get specific, very specific, your Aspie child is going to have a really rough time.
From personal experience, I sorely remember being told to clean my room. Honestly, I did not understand what that meant. Yeah, I saw some stuff on the floor and I'd pick it up or hey, I can move those clothes but for an Aspie to clean a room effectively, it must be done very differently than our neurotypical (non-Aspie) brethren.
First, be specific and break it down. Sending a kid to clean your room is confusing and such a broad, undefined phrase and will probably get you nowhere.
With my eldest I start by saying, "bring down all your dirty clothes". Ok, task 1 accomplished. Then it proceeds, one at a time, hang up your clean clothes, pick the toys off the floor, pick the papers off the floor and put them in this container, then we can actually move on to vacuuming.
One task at a time...Be Very Specific....Demonstrate if needed (as with how to use a took a number of demonstrations for him to feel comfortable)..and offer a little help if needed.
Oh the drama of trying to get him to pick up. I ended up breaking things down further by having him pick up only certain items like just Pokemon cards or only magazines. Now things do actually get done.
After a number of times doing this, anywhere from a couple dozen to a couple hundred, depending on the child, he/ she will be able to clean their room with very little help.
Teaching new tasks...OMG, I decided to teach my son to mow the lawn on the riding lawnmower. I did not realize that this was a whole day task. Looking back, I must laugh at My ignorance.
First off, we, my partner had to help because my patience was running thin that day...we tried for about an hour to get him to actually sit upon the machine, (Old Blue, I have named my green craftsman rider).
Next, we showed him how to turn it on and he just sat, stoic and watched.
Then we explained how to put it in first gear, steer and brake...and told him to get to mowing.
Oh what a sight...He sat on that loud, vibrating mower, arms crossed, the most evil of looks on his face and he sat and he sat refusing to move.
After about a half hour of this, I went out and explained the pattern he should go.
45 minutes later, I kid you not, I went back out and threatened him with taking away his gameboy/ DS/ whatever that little gameplayer is...and I went back inside.
10 or 15 minutes later, he decided to overcome his anxiety and actually get mowing. Boy, was he on unhappy camper. But he accomplished it!!!!
Every weekend thereafter, we asked him to mow the lawn. And every week I could see him becoming more and more comfortable until finally, he wouldn't throw a fit and would just fill the tank, start her up and take off. Whew!!
New tasks are very challenging for the Aspie, especially when they involve loud noise and unfamiliarity.
Myself, I actually didn't start using Old Blue until about 5 years after we purchased it. I had the push mower and had figured out the steps, the pattern that I needed to follow to mow the lawn and I wasn't sure about that rider. But, like my son, I overcame my anxiety and figured out all the steps and now, my partner and I fight over who gets to mow the lawn. It really is pretty darn fun to zip around the yard and try and run over squirrels!
Be specific, Demonstrate and be available for questions, support and encouragement!!!

Regarding ADAM the movie and Aspergers

The Truth is a Thing of Horrid, Wretched Beauty

I watched the movie Adam, tonight. It is a story about a man with Aspergers....hmmm, lots of thoughts and feelings on this one.
My first reaction was "this is bad". Do I really look like that much of a doofus? Its one thing to actually be a doofus, it is quite another when you realize others may see you that way.
He seemed like such a simpleton but I can easily remember feeling that way, frequently. Its as if everyone is speaking the same language but you. And you can't even find the dictionary to understand what they are saying.
It feels like being an alien, a foreigner in a very strange land. And you can't pinpoint why, you just know that you are very different.
Embarrassment and humiliation are probably the two worst emotions to feel. They seem to strike the deepest and sharpest. And are the hardest ones to shake and get over.
Yes, a lot of the movie is quite true. The incredible frustration with not being able to go out the door or perform a relatively simple task. I loved the great lengths it took to prepare for the job took days and days and many hours of rehearsal to get ready.
I must admit that I have much, much more in my freezer than mac and cheese and veggies. But don't make me vary from my coffee and peanut butter toast in the morning...that Is my religion.
The trauma of parties and restaurants was portrayed extremely well. And gave my partner a better understanding. She used to be a go-out-to-eat-at-a-restaurant person and had a hard time adjusting to my rebellion against eating away from home.
The loneliness...the self-abuse..unfortunately frustration expresses itself in many forms.
The fits of rage...while I have heard that this is quite common, it is not something I experience.
The inability to share personal experiences...when his father died and no one at the office knew.
Asking for help, or the inability to ask for help...Wow..true too.
Being lied to, betrayed, having the wool pulled over your eyes..YES..big, big no no's. And the subsequent wanting to burn the bridge..yes. Aspies really want no part of deception in any form.
Aspies are people who take words at their literal meaning and are brutally honest..(ok, gotta tell ya...this one time, at band, this one time at a friends house..I brought my Aspie 9 year old son. My friend was showing us the house and when we got to her newly painted bedroom,[she had all her clothing strewn on the bed away from the paint] my son said, "This place is a mess." Brutally honest, fer sure.) I guess we expect that others should be just like us. And it is quite an offense to be deceived.
The movie was upsetting because it struck so close to home.
Seeing his struggle was rather painful. I am not sure that I could actually watch it again. And I definitely do not want to share it with my son.
I was enormously pleased with the ending because it showed how against great odds he was able to overcome and succeed. When you live in your own little, highly controlled, regulated and predictable, safe world and can muster every resource you have to take a giant step is an incredible feat of remarkable courage.