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do YOU have aspergers?

post #1 of 12
Thread Starter 

i'm in the midst of being diagnosed with aspergers (i'm sure i have it, as are my family, and the AQ, SQ, and EQ test scores support that conclusion). there are some aspects of parenting that i find very difficult. i know there's a thread about parenting when your spouse/partner has aspergers, but is there anyone here who has it themselves?

post #2 of 12

I'm diagnosed with High Functioning Autism. By the new diagnostic criteria, HFA and AS diagnosis are being combined....so you could say I just have severe AS. lol 

 

Are your kids on the spectrum, too? I think I have it easier than most because my kids are both on the spectrum. Crash is diagnosed with AS, and Spritely with HFA. Parenting NT kids would probably be as confusing and strenuous for me as raising ASD kids is for NTs. I would say parenting/caretaking has always been my "special interest" (aka autistic obsession) though. My struggles have mainly been dealing with people and forces outside of my household, not so much with parenting or the functions of family. 

 

What are you finding difficult?

post #3 of 12
Thread Starter 

my toddler seems neurotypical. my 8 year old has social issues but not sensory issues that we know of, so she's not "normal" but i don't think it's necessarily a matter of being on the spectrum. we're still trying to figure that out.

 

i am having trouble with just being a parent. i get so overstimulated. i can't stand normal amounts of noise. i can't provide a lot of social opportunities for the kids because a) i suck with people and b) it gets overwhelming especially if there are more than 4 people total. i love my kids so very much, i've always wanted two kids and i have exactly that. but i didnt know it would be this hard and i sometimes wonder if i'm really cut out for this gig.

 

i tried to find resources about parents on the spectrum and most of what i found was info about raising kids on the spectrum and the rest was basically people saying that parents on the spectrum suck. one went as far as to say courts should give sole custody to the non-spectrum parent because the spectrum parent can't provide a loving safe environment. another article said there are no autistic parents because people on the spectrum aren't interested in relationships. i mean, sheesh. its all bad news.

post #4 of 12

Hi there, I haven't been officially diagnosed, but from the reading I've been doing I'm pretty certain I'm on the autistic spectrum, probably with Aspergers.

 

I can really relate to the problems you mention myk - like you the noise really bothers me and makes me feel really stressed out. I'm now realising I've always had problems with noise but it was manageable before I had kids. I also get really overstimulated from visual clutter. I can get really anxious when I see things like toys, food, dishes etc all over the floor, counters and so on. I spend a good portion of my day just cleaning up the constant mess. It's not that I'm house-proud though, it's just that it stresses me out. Socially I tend to avoid contact, but feel I should provide more social opportunities for the kids' sake too.

 

My eldest (a boy) also shows signs of being on the spectrum (lack of empathy, social problems, and sensory issues), whilst my toddler seems neurotypical.

 

I can totally relate to what you're saying. I think most parents find parenting hard at least some of the time, but I often wonder why I just don't seem able to cope with what others just appear to take in their stride.

 

Happy to chat more about what problems you're having....

post #5 of 12
I feel for you! I agree with PP though that as an Aspie parent it is probably easier parenting a kid on the spectrum than a neurotypical. As a parent of an Aspie preschooler and a former nanny of a kid that was HFA, I think I just relate better to these kids. But it doesn't change my own sensitivity to noise and chaos, or my tendency to snap. And although my kid's psychologist tells me I need to do more play dates for his social skills, it is so challenging for me to do that. When I get extremely harried, I medicate with adderall, though this is rare, maybe twice a month. For me, it is the ADHD side of Aspergers that makes parenting so challenging, and even a tiny dose of a stimulant allows me to focus with more patience on what my kid needs in the moment. The other challenge that never goes away is the need for alone time. It's like non-existent these days.
post #6 of 12
This article about a whole family of aspies in the guardian is quite relevant to this topic. http://www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyle/2012/nov/03/aspergers-syndrome-family-social-rules
post #7 of 12

My son is in the process of being evaluated, with a preliminary diagnosis of Asperger's.

 

I don't think I have it, but I do have some of the traits. DH read a list of traits common in children with Asperger's, and said, "this is me". I'm fairly sure he has it.

 

My oldest son is neuro typical. I think my oldest daughter has ADHD, but I'm not sure (and it doesn't affect our lives in any significant fashion). My youngest...hard to say for sure, but I think she's also neurtoypical. We've got quite a range!

post #8 of 12
Quote:
Originally Posted by myk View Post

my toddler seems neurotypical. my 8 year old has social issues but not sensory issues that we know of, so she's not "normal" but i don't think it's necessarily a matter of being on the spectrum. we're still trying to figure that out.

i am having trouble with just being a parent. i get so overstimulated. i can't stand normal amounts of noise. i can't provide a lot of social opportunities for the kids because a) i suck with people and b) it gets overwhelming especially if there are more than 4 people total. i love my kids so very much, i've always wanted two kids and i have exactly that. but i didnt know it would be this hard and i sometimes wonder if i'm really cut out for this gig.

i tried to find resources about parents on the spectrum and most of what i found was info about raising kids on the spectrum and the rest was basically people saying that parents on the spectrum suck. one went as far as to say courts should give sole custody to the non-spectrum parent because the spectrum parent can't provide a loving safe environment. another article said there are no autistic parents because people on the spectrum aren't interested in relationships. i mean, sheesh. its all bad news.

I am not on the spectrum but I have PTSD and I get overstimulated like nobodies business. I have learned to carve out 30-60 minutes of alone time two or three times a day or I am a sobbing mess on the floor because I can't cope. My kids understand that they have times when they need to play alone. It has taken time and consistency but they know mommy needs time out.

My husband is the Aspie. I think he is at least as good and sometimes a better parent than me because he has different things he tolerates well (neither of handle the noise well) and we balance one another. Which is to say that there is no rubric for being a good mother. Your child is unique and needs you.

Oh and I suck at socializing. I have terrible panic attacks in big groups. I feel like I am dying. Instead we have more one on one play dates with families. I try to have one a week but I don't always make it.

Mostly I read book about people who live rurally and try to convince myself it isn't permanently damaging that my kids don't know hundreds of people. smile.gif
post #9 of 12

I am endowed with Aspergers's.

I first suspected I had it when an older brother informed me he had been diagnosed with it. Eventually I sought help for a nervous disorder and had my own diagnosis.

I presume you are asking for Aspies to share advice, or at least commiserate with you.

My first bit of advice is to never tell coworkers you have Asperger's; I have made that mistake, and really regretted it. I am an engineer, and at one job, I went from being an "oracle" people sought out for advice, to being treated like an idiot after I mentioned I had Asperger's.

Don't advertise that your children have it; they can most probably be mainstreamed just fine without the albatross around their neck of an Asperger's label.

I am very guarded in how I describe myself and my family in these posts because I need to remain anonymous, and I certainly do not have the right to describe myself so accurately that people figure out who I am, and thus who my siblings and children are, and betray their hidden diagnosis.

That said, I came from a very large family, and most of my siblings, male and female, appear to have Asperger's. I had a lot of children, and at least two of them appear to have Asperger's. You may be a "refrigerator mom" who has autism spectrum children, but it is not because you are a bad mother; it is because you passed on your genes. I could probably be labeled a “refrigerator dad”.

There should not be guilt in passing on your genes; I intentionally had a lot of children because I thought I had "gifts" worth passing on. This was before I found out I had Asperger's, but I do not regret it, for there is great potential for shaping the Asperger mind to great things. I make a very good living as professional engineer, with the ability to translate engineering documents in four other languages, and the average American would envy my salary.

Be very careful not to take any of my talents I should mention and say "that is typical of an Aspie"; every one of my Aspie siblings and children is unique, some great successes like me, some dismal failures. I would advise every Aspie to objectively analyze their talents, and emphasize the good ones, maybe turn them into a career, and figure out how to work around the disadvantages. For instance, even though I am an engineer, I border on dyscalculia, because I cannot remember abstract concepts like multiplication tables. The invention of the calculator saved me! (I think visually, and I may be able to picture “9” objects in my head, but I can’t picture 81 objects.) If I am learning foreign languages I easily remember nouns, but have trouble with verbs, especially verbs for abstract concepts you can’t picture, and I have trouble with prepositions. Some people think I have a gift with foreign languages; some of it may be, but a big part of it is desire and hard work.

I need to mention identity too; I used to think Aspies were autistics blessed with above average intellect, but a study about a year ago has convinced me that we are unique from autistics. The study analyzed the dimensions of the face of autistic people and normal people, and discovered consistent ratios of relative dimensions of brow line versus distance to the upper lip, etc. in autism spectrum people. It also revealed that while Aspies also had facial dimensions which separated them from the normal population in a manner similar to autistics, the Aspies turned out to be uniquely different from the classic autism group. So it is not the random gift of more intellect which separates us from autistics; something happens to autistics in the first several weeks of gestation to create the facial differences and corresponding brain differences, and something unique is happening in the gestation of children destined to be Aspies. This is also a very compelling clue which tells the objective observer that autism or Asperger’s happens in the womb; in the vast majority of cases, where all one has to do is analyze the face to confirm congenital autism or Asperger’s, the cause cannot be a vaccination given to a toddler. I find it quite ironic, that just as it has become apparent that Aspies are unique from our autistic cousins, the psychologist’s diagnostic and statistical manual is planning on lumping us Aspies in with Autistics.

You may be accused of not having empathy. I have struggled to understand love and empathy. I am not sure I experience love like normal people do; I certainly do not experience grief like they do. I can experience emotional hurt, and if I learn of someone experiencing emotional hurt, I believe I have true empathy, that if their hurt is so great it can bring them to tears, it could easily bring me to tears. Other factors really confuse or confound empathy. I can tolerate great pain, like dental work without anesthetic. I think it is not because I do not feel pain, because I actually think I am more sensitive than a normal person. It is because my own pain does not affect me emotionally. This colors how I react to other people’s pain. I can remain detached and clinical as I deal with a seriously injured child, a situation I observe often makes neurotypical people go into hysteria.

I am much more sensitive to smells and sounds. I suffer from allergies and nervous problems which suggest a messed up immune system. I live my life avoiding dozens of foods and in fear of blinding headaches and vomiting. (Some of my siblings and children share these problems, some don’t.)

You asked about parenting. I grew up in the age where spanking children was considered normal and appropriate. I raised my children in the era where more and more people felt they had the authority to tell other parents how to raise their children. Unfortunately, what may be good for a neurotypical child, may not be good for an Aspie.

I, and several of my siblings, and at least one of my children, grew up with very limited ability to recognize faces. For instance, even up until my teenage years, if my mother came home from a beauty parlor with a new “do”, I and my brothers would not recognize her. We would figure out is was her from circumstantial evidence; her odor, her clothes, from saying things to us only a mother would say, but it would not be because we recognized her face. Even today, if my wife puts on a wig I have never seen, and clothes I have never seen, I would have great difficulty recognizing her. I cannot recognize voices very well either; if one of my children calls me on the phone, I have to ask them to identify themselves. Generally speaking, I only recognize voices after they have talked long enough for me to spot unique accents or speech patterns; I almost never can recognize a voice from the timbre.

There may not be much of an emotional connection between you and your Aspie child. My wife felt my most Aspie son nursed without cuddling, did not want to be touched, did not create the impression that he was doing anything other than feeding from a milk machine.

Now take an Aspie child who does not recognize you as anything other than the human who alternates between bullying them and providing nourishment, and ask yourself: Can discipline intended to create guilt work? Can discipline intended to inflict peer pressure work? Can discipline involving threat of anger work? Does the Aspie child even recognize emotion on your face? My recollection as a youth was that I never noticed emotion in my parents until it reached the level of screaming and tears and threats of spanking (I could relate to spanking.)

This creates a dilemma for an Aspie parent; well meaning people who think they are very wise and compassionate are passing laws saying you cannot spank your child, but you as a parent have a responsibility to figure out what combination of discipline and restraint will keep your Aspie from darting out into the street in front of a car. At certain ages, I had to get very creative, use my engineering skills to figure out how to keep my Aspies from bolting from the house. From piling up whatever to create ladders, from getting into everything, including dangerous things like power tools, from cutting screens and jumping out windows, from climbing onto the roof and jumping down onto cars below, from setting fires, from making sophisticated, lethal weapons. (And this is all pre-teen!)

I am pretty sure now several of my sisters have Asperger’s but it does not manifest in a way like men; there is more emotion involved, more empathy. I think Simon Baron-Cohen may be right that Asperger’s may be a hyper male syndrome. So take the differences between men and women, and give me a double helping. Give Aspie women a push toward male characteristics (not the sex or beards, we are talking talents and interests) and Aspie women are quite comfortable in a “man’s world.”  My Aspie sisters have worked as chemical tech, computer engineer, and computer techs, one daughter as a pharmacy tech. Many of my brothers are engineers and one is a computer system expert. One of my sons is an actuary.

Summing up; take advantage of your talents, find crutches for your flaws, and don’t blame yourself for your nutso kids, just do your best to get past the barriers and make them ready to entry the mainstream and have a career. It will be a lot of work, you will have to endure unjustified criticism, but pick your battles wisely and in the end find the obsession that makes you happy and budget some time for it.

post #10 of 12
Quote:
Originally Posted by FranklySpeaking View Post


Be very careful not to take any of my talents I should mention and say "that is typical of an Aspie"; every one of my Aspie siblings and children is unique, some great successes like me, some dismal failures.

Agreed.  There can be far too much generalization about AS.  I am not bothered by noise, but I'm pretty sure I have AS.  I think my parents have AS and had zero tolerance for noise.  We children were beaten all the time for making noise.  Even riotous laughter would send my dad into a blind rage of swinging fists.  I made a resolute decision early on to never be like my parents, and trained myself through sheer willpower to appreciate the sound of human voice. 

 

While I lack social skills, I crave human contact.  I am more happy in public than I am alone.  I was severely abused and neglected at home as a child, but not in public.  So I was conditioned to prefer to be around other people, not my parents, and not at home.  I hate weekends, because I am home alone so long I start getting anxiety. 

 

I have pieced together my early years from talking to extended family.  When I was born, my parents lived at my grandparents' house.  My mom didn't 'love' me.  She left me alone to cry for extended periods (pretty much all the time).  The rest of the family could tell there was something wrong with how she treated me.  She wouldn't touch me, pick me up, or talk to me.  And to make it worse, she vehemently wouldn't let anyone else pick me up either.  She believed in 'cry it out' and not spoiling babies.  The extended family really tried to give her good advice to be more loving towards me, but she got so offended, my parents moved out, further isolating me (and my older bro, and their subsequent children) from healthy relationships. 

 

Many years later even there was another altercation where extended family tried to point out that my parents weren't treating us right, and my parents were so offended again that they completely cut ties between us kids and our grandparents (whom we loved, and loved us).  My cousin told me a few years ago that she wasn't allowed to come over and play at our house because she was afraid of my parents and that her parents knew my parents seemed crazy and dangerous.  They knew we were being beaten and that it wasn't right.  Even back then when spanking was relatively accepted, people could tell my parents were out of control. 

 

My first five years, I was pretty much home alone with my mom.  I never went to daycare.  She pretty much ignored me and never spoke to me except to yell at me.  I barely knew how to speak when I started kindergarten.  I even started sort of late, because I failed kindergarten screening the first time when I was four, almost five.  Everyone thought I was shy, but I really I didn't know how to talk. 

post #11 of 12

DH and I joke that we're "vanity Aspies". As in, we definitely have something going on, but it's fairly easy for us to handle, and has (in our minds, at least!) more pros than cons. We're both pretty good at faking neurotypicality - it's quite something to see my antisocial DH turn on the affable, joking charm or even flirtation with a client - and neither of us has ever been officially diagnosed.

 

I have one sister with full-blown autism (combined with developmental delay and a form of narcolepsy); and four other sisters, only one of whom could be considered normal (in a bright, geeky way at that). The rest of 'em have, in varying degrees, social anxiety, sensory issues, depression and OCD. My father and maternal grandfather are/were quite noticeably on the spectrum. DH's father is, too.

 

I think I've grown out of a lot of my "Aspie-est" traits. I no longer have echolalia or (for the most part) social anxiety - at least when I'm with my regular group of friends, who are all geeks. I'm still clumsy, but it's not as obvious now I'm not being forced to do PE at school. I'm still not physically affectionate with friends, but I'm pretty huggy with DH and huggy and kissy with the kids, especially the baby.

 

I still have prosody, which only affects me insofar as people think I'm from England. :p (DH does too - it confuses people no end when we tell them we're from Australia and South Africa!) I have phobias, though they've settled down a lot since I went on antidepressants. I have a hard time mustering interest or appropriate responses when socialising with "normal" (ie non-geeky) people... I went out last night for a post-short-term-job shindig, and everyone talked about the rugby, Brazilian waxing, the virtues of Riesling vs pinot gris, and eyelash extensions. It was surreal. I had nothing to say. This is... rare... for me. :p

 

In that sense, actually, parenting has been good for me. I have cute kids, and I had to get to used to people stopping me in the supermarket to rave about them, so I got better at picking up conversations with random people. And at homeschooling events or church, where most people are "into" babies, we always have something to talk about.

 

As far as how my parenting affects the kids... hmm. I know I spend way too much time online, and that's partly because I get overwhelmed by the constant interaction my kids demand. (They're both, so far, amazingly "normal" - no idea how we managed to produce such well-adjusted children. DD (4.5) is smart/precocious, artistic and intense, but also very sociable; and DS (18 months) is just a lovable, dumb, gorgeous, mischievous toddler who delights everyone he meets.)

 

I can't play "pretend". I'm actually not sure DD knows pretend play exists, in a "you be the mummy and I'll be the daddy and let's make dinner" way. Sometimes she'll play a game where she's a hunter and DS is the moose, but that doesn't involve much more than chasing. Occasionally she'll pretend to make me a cup of tea or something... that's about it, though. I've never said "Let's pretend you're a princess and I'm a dragon" or anything along those lines. I just... can't do it. We do "schoolwork" together, draw things together, play her Memory Match game, go for walks, garden and cook together, and read lots of books; but pretend play (or, come to that, physical stuff, romping around or kicking a ball) is really not me.

 

I probably have stiffed DD a bit on extracurriculars due to laziness/depression/social "meh"ness... we did Playcentre for a while but I couldn't take it. But she does do homeschool gymnastics most weeks, and piano lessons with my sister, and goes to a creche during Bible study once a week, and sees kids at church, so she's not completely isolated. And we see her cousins fairly often, and I do try to initiate playdates - although that's getting harder as kids her age are going to kindy and school.

 

In some ways, I think DH and I make a good team. We're both Aspie-ish, but we can compensate for each other's weaknesses quite well. He's very clever, but finds it hard to simplify subjects - so if DD asks him a question about rain, he'll start talking about air currents and precipitation and things which are way over her head. I'm better at "translating".

 

DH is better at remembering to do day-to-day stuff like changing the baby and making sure DD has her nap. I'm better at thinking long-term about the kids' social and educational needs. I'm more likely to suggest enrichment activities like going to the zoo. DH is much better at dealing with doctors or anybody bleeding.

 

Oh, and we watch Stargate while we eat dinner. That's probably a parenting fail. DD knows a fair bit about wormholes, though.

 

So... it is what it is. We do OK. Closely-spaced children would definitely be a bad idea for us, and DH finds the whole broken-sleep issue harder to deal with than me... he'd be happy to stop at two kids, while I'm thinking three minimum. But we love our kids a lot and they know it. So there's that.

post #12 of 12
Quote:
Originally Posted by myk View Post
i tried to find resources about parents on the spectrum and most of what i found was info about raising kids on the spectrum and the rest was basically people saying that parents on the spectrum suck. one went as far as to say courts should give sole custody to the non-spectrum parent because the spectrum parent can't provide a loving safe environment. another article said there are no autistic parents because people on the spectrum aren't interested in relationships. i mean, sheesh. its all bad news.

 

hug2.gif  My DD is on the spectrum and I'm pretty sure my DH is as well. The article you read was bs.

 

I think that every parent has strengths and weaknesses that they bring to parenting. In some ways, my DH is an awesome parent. But I have some strengths he doesn't have -- such as better social skills. We work well as a team. He is a safe and loving parent though, and both our kids feel his unconditional love. He is better at helping our kids find heir inner strength than I am.

 

If there are specific areas you are concerned about, its OK to find other ways to address those needs. For example, may be having your 8 year old in social programs that the parents don't attend would be helpful, such as girl scouts.

 

The feeling that parenting is overwhelming and doubting if one is cut out for it is pretty common -- most neurotypical parents have the same feelings and doubts from time to time.

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