Step-parenting child with Asperger's - Mothering Forums

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Old 07-23-2010, 05:58 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Anyone here step-parenting a child on the autism spectrum? My DH and I have been married 2+ years, and his son was diagnosed with Asperger's/ADHD/anxiety right around the time we were engaged.

There is a lot to our story... but the main thing right now (and for years) is that my stepson blames me for his parents divorce (my husband and I met after a period of separation and the filing of divorce papers so there really wasn't any overlap).

I have tried to be understanding and see things from my DSS's point of view. I can't help but feel that the Asperger's feeds some of the reactions kids have during a divorce making those feelings be bigger and last longer.

It is hard to keep being patient and loving when you are regularly being blamed- and acted out at- for something you had no part in. I understand he is still upset about his parents' divorce but it is not helping that those feelings get taken out on me.

I guess I am just wondering if anyone out there can relate to our situation or has any advice to offer. I'd love to hear from bio-moms of kids with AS and what it might be like on the other side of my situation.

Thanks!

Mama to DD-9, DSS-11, happily married and living with 1dog, 1 cat, 7 chickens, and 2 ducks....expecting 03/11
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Old 07-23-2010, 08:10 PM
 
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My ex and I separated and divorced a little over 2 years ago and life for my son was so full of changes it was very, very difficult for him. I had to deal with meltdowns that lasted for hours, feces being spread around, hitting/choking, etc. Just when I thought he was adjusting, BOOM. Change is so difficult for kids on the spectrum. You throw in divorce, visitation, and it really throws them for a loop.

I'm not sure how old your SS is but perhaps he needs someone to help him adjust to the changes in his life, an impartial third party. My son sees a counselor once a week and it has definitely helped. Life is still challenging and frustrating and with a kid of the spectrum it will always be that way. Everyday is a trial of my patience and love. At least once a week I break down and have a good cry. I also see a counselor because caring for a special needs child is hard and frustrating in so many ways. Please be patient and kind and understanding of your SS. is your SS in any type of behavioral therapy or social therapy? That can help a lot too. Hang in there!

Lilly, mum to one handsome boyand to one of God's angels in heaven
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Old 07-23-2010, 08:44 PM - Thread Starter
 
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My SS has been in regular therapy for almost three years (usually weekly, sometimes bimonthly). He also get social skills support, OT and other services (some through school and some through an autism center near our home). My husband and I participate in his therapy when asked and gotten our own help too.

We've changed his schedule to minimize transitions, created visual schedules, and visual storybooks around these issues.

In many ways, he has gotten better. He came into my home as an 8 1/2 year old who couldn't wipe himself and refused to eat. Now... he can do most age appropriate self care and (thanks to the right medication) rarely melts down.

Sadly, the most persistent things are a never ending bad attitude and faulting his dad and I's marriage all the issues in his life. It just seems to me that certain ideas get "stuck" in his mind (this is common for people with AS)... and what is stuck in his head is this. It creates so much stress and conflict around here; if only we were able to rework those messages!

Thanks for listening.

Mama to DD-9, DSS-11, happily married and living with 1dog, 1 cat, 7 chickens, and 2 ducks....expecting 03/11
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Old 07-23-2010, 09:04 PM
 
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It just seems to me that certain ideas get "stuck" in his mind (this is common for people with AS)... if only we were able to rework those messages!
This is very true. My twin sons (15) are on the mild end of the spectrum and, even though they have pretty sunny personalities and no resentment about their family relationships, all 4 of us parents & step-parents are often frustrated by the fact that you can discuss something with them in-depth, it seems like you've gotten through and a light bulb has gone on over their head...and a week later, their minds are back in the same rut you tried to get them out of, as though you never had the break-through conversation! Over and over and over again.

I think especially for the step-parents - who didn't bring them into the world and participate in the first years of their lives - it can be a challenge to remember that they truly do have a condition that can keep their minds in a rut and it's NOT that they're just intentionally stubborn, or ignoring you! Sometimes I think it might be easier to remember that, if they were further down the spectrum - i.e., the classically "Autistic" child who's noncommunicative and it's very obvious he's not choosing to be difficult. But kids with Aspberger's (sorry if I misspelled that!) or NVLD (like my twins) can seem quite normal in many ways, leaving you wondering, "WHY won't this sink in!?!?!".

But I assure you, my sons do change and acquire new skills and attitudes about things - sometimes after so much repetition and coaching that you have given up believing it will ever sink in and you're just repeating the message out of habit!

One woman in a house full of men:  my soul mate:    or... twin sons:(HS seniors) ... step-son:  (a sophomore) ... our little man:   (a first grader) ... and there is another female in the house, after all:  our
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Old 07-24-2010, 10:41 AM
 
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Anyone here step-parenting a child on the autism spectrum? My DH and I have been married 2+ years, and his son was diagnosed with Asperger's/ADHD/anxiety right around the time we were engaged.

There is a lot to our story... but the main thing right now (and for years) is that my stepson blames me for his parents divorce (my husband and I met after a period of separation and the filing of divorce papers so there really wasn't any overlap).

I have tried to be understanding and see things from my DSS's point of view. I can't help but feel that the Asperger's feeds some of the reactions kids have during a divorce making those feelings be bigger and last longer.

It is hard to keep being patient and loving when you are regularly being blamed- and acted out at- for something you had no part in. I understand he is still upset about his parents' divorce but it is not helping that those feelings get taken out on me.

I guess I am just wondering if anyone out there can relate to our situation or has any advice to offer. I'd love to hear from bio-moms of kids with AS and what it might be like on the other side of my situation.

Thanks!
There are SO many different factors that come into play - divorce and remarriage alone, the AS factor, the anxiety factor, even the ADHD factor... And you don't mention his age, but that could be an additional factor.

As a bio-mom with an AS child who has no memory of life before dh, my situation is different, but there's one specific thing I'd like to mention. Kids don't want to believe their parents are capable of doing any wrong.

My AS ds idolizes his father, and will make excuses for even the most hurtful or thoughtless offenses. Whether ds chooses to blame us directly, indirectly, or not at all, dh and I bear the brunt of the emotional fall-out. He simply can't bring himself to accept that his father may have done wrong.

In your dss's case, this *could possibly* be his way of avoiding the idea that his biological parents chose for things to be this way. If he blames you, that means his parents are still innocent of any offense.
Chances are, depending on his age and how much he's seen and heard, he knows the truth deep down, but doesn't want to deal with it.

As I'm still dealing with this many years down the road, I have zero real advice to give on how to change how he's feeling. I do find it helpful to remind myself that ds is coming from a very difficult, confusing place and accept his *perspective*, while also enforcing any consequences I would normally give any of my children for inappropriate *behaviors*.

We're very big on reminding ds that all emotions and feelings are valid, but we're not entitled to inflict them on the rest of the family!

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Old 01-02-2011, 09:28 AM
 
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Does anyone know if there are any good books to read or online articles about stepparenting a child with Asperger's or Autism? I work with families of children on the spectrum and one is getting married and her soon to be husband does not know much about parenting a child on the spectrum. Is there any place to find good tips or information? Thanks!

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Old 01-02-2011, 05:27 PM
 
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I think especially for the step-parents - who didn't bring them into the world and participate in the first years of their lives - it can be a challenge to remember that they truly do have a condition that can keep their minds in a rut and it's NOT that they're just intentionally stubborn, or ignoring you! Sometimes I think it might be easier to remember that, if they were further down the spectrum - i.e., the classically "Autistic" child who's noncommunicative and it's very obvious he's not choosing to be difficult. But kids with Aspberger's (sorry if I misspelled that!) or NVLD (like my twins) can seem quite normal in many ways, leaving you wondering, "WHY won't this sink in!?!?!".


Yes, please remember this.  My son has Asperger's.  My Husband was the only Dad he ever knew, was in his life from the age of 6 to last year, when my Husband left me when my son was 14 1/2.  I would never vocalize this to my son, but Asperger's did play a part in the breakup- my Husband was unable to see him as a child with a neurological problem, he just saw him as a spoiled, selfish child.  I have to be honest- sometimes I love him only because I'm his Mother, it's just so hard to handle the behaviors sometimes.  Does that make me a bad Mom?  No, it just makes me human.  Add that to the onset of puberty, which is rough for any child, and yes, it was/is very hard parenting my son.  You will need alot of patience with your stepson in the next couple of years- please stick with it.  My Husband did not.  I can tell you from my son's experience- if you end up not being able to take it, it will affect your stepson more than it would affect any other "normal" child.


I pray for the day Family Court recognizes that CHILDREN have rights, parents only have PRIVILEGES.  Only then, will I know my child is safe.
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Old 01-30-2011, 09:45 PM
 
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There is a great book called "101 Answers to Aspergers".  It gives great perspective from both the child and the parent.  I carried it for months after my stepson was diagnosed.

 

I have been a part of his life since 2002 and every day is another struggle with him.  In addition, I am only stepmomma, so that just makes it 10x harder.

 

Good luck.  If you have any questions, I will be happy to reply.

 

Kendra

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Old 01-31-2011, 07:24 PM
 
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My DSS is a child with Autism.  It has made his mother hyper defensive about the care and interactions he has at our house.  He has been in a rut for about 3 months now of not going with my DH, his father, during his scheduled parenting time.  His mother has made trying to work on this extremely difficult, blaming me and my DH for the issues that he is having at school, which I believe may partly be due to the changes in his family, but also because he is a 6 year old with Autism.  I find it extremely difficult as a stepmother to deal with this.  I get very frustrated with my DH about how he handles this situation.  I think he should be more aggressive in enforcing parenting time.  I have no power or control of this situation that greatly affects my life.  I completly understand that he has issues that are caused from Autism, but I don't think that gives his mother permission to deny parenting time or pull any of the other numerous stunts she has to make our lives more difficult.

 

I have not answers for you, only to say that it's hard to be a stepparent of a child with special needs.  This situation is making me be a more patient person and on the path to being a better spouse to my DH, although I still REALLY struggle with projecting my anger and the situation onto him and his choices.


M, married to B, Step-Mom to J coolshine.gif, with one of these cat.gif, and two of thesedog2.gifdog2.gif
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Old 05-18-2011, 06:58 AM
 
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Seems like this thread is getting old, but I chanced upon it through google.

I live with my partner who has a daughter with AS. She is 10 and a half. We have been together for 3 years, so I met her a few months after we got together. We have been living together for about 2 years. Her daughter was diagnosed last fall although she knew something was going on from the beginning. She is very immature for her age and does come off as spoiled often. She was in therapy for a few months but it was not affordable and so it ended. It was helping, but the biological father, who she sees regularly, is in denial that anything is wrong. He tends to spoil her and when she comes back from his house many times she has regressed.

Does anyone have any advice? Sometimes I just feel terrible about it. I feel like I'm a bad person because I easily feel frustrated with the child. I feel like no matter what I do for her she is going to get upset with me unless I let her do whatever she wants. I get tired of the tantrums when I ask her to do her homework or put some books away or help me clean off the table. I worry that this is really hard on my relationship with my partner, we have fought about it several times and many of the times my partner takes it personally like I am saying that our relationship is not good. It is, but this part of it is so hard.

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Old 12-12-2011, 12:28 AM
 
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Fairly new to forums like this but I came across it as I searched in desperation for answers and advice. I live with a man whose 12 year old son as aspergers and ADHD and he no longer comes to our house as he is violent and aggressive. When I first met my boyfriend nearly three years ago he had been separated for over 18 months and things went well with both his sons and my three children. It has since become so hard having his son around as we all walk on egg shells in the fear of him having an explosion. His 'rages' involve terrible swearing and hitting and he calls his father all manner of hurtful things, none of which are true. He has threatened to hurt me and my children and he now lives full time with his mother and my boyfriend visits him without us. I feel very guilty that a father and son have been separated but don't know what else to do. I can' t consciously allow my children to be around such anger and hatred but also feel selfish because I am worried that s behaviour will mean we won't take the next step of marriage due to the fear of him ruining our special day. Sorry....this is not advice but a comment and just wanting some ideas or thoughts. His mother is defensive and doesn't seem willing to explore different avenues to help her son learn coping strategies.

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Old 04-30-2012, 02:16 PM
 
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Been with my Aspy 10 year old stepson going on 3 yrs. It's beyond challenging. He is always the elephant in the room. I love my husband very much but we need counseling. He goes back and forth between denying there is a problem which leads to arguing between us and overreacting to his son being "weird." he keeps thinking with sports and this or that he can make him " normal.." my stepson hears his father disagree and undermine what I say, so my point or progress is lost.
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Old 11-19-2012, 08:05 AM
 
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Wow here goes, I met and married an amazing woman who has an aspergers teenager 19 years old. I thought I could cope with everything I thought I was prepared how wrong I was.Id read every book available , spoke to people from several national organisations in Britain and truly believed that I could handle anything.

I get so confused and apologies for this , so flipping angry with his behaviour .What is behaviour because of his aspergers and what is plain bullying of his mum, Is bone idleness and unwillingness to do anything round the house or for himself aspergers or is it  because his mum lets him get away with it.I know that maybe Im coming across as some sort of victorian and not sympathetic to my stepson but I truly care for this young man , The only thing my wife  and I ever fall out over is her son ,she sees me as being too hard and I see her as making excuses for him and letting him getting away with stuff that she would not let anyone else get away with.

Im writing this after another one of those rows we have over her son she feels awful and is upstairs I feel horrible because Ive upset her. Id be eternally grateful if someone could explain to me in laymans term  why the only person he verbally abuses is his mum and when I walk into the room he suddenly stops being aggressive and then starts up again when I leave the room this just doesnt apply to me but to anyone else , I admit Im ignorant because to me it says he knows exactly what he is doing and its nothing to do with being an aspie but purely to do with being an agressive arrogant young man , genuinelly  Im confused

Please dont think that I dont love my stepson but if im honest  he is the most challenging person Ive ever met in my life , my wife and I just want to be happy family unit I want my stepson to grow bored with us and branch out and become the man he wants to be and is capable of,

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Old 12-11-2012, 12:36 PM
 
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I am a step-mom to a now 13-year-old girl. My DH and I have 6 daughters between us (18, 16, 14, 13, 11, 9). Our 13-year-old was diagnosed with Asperger's, high functioning autism, and ADHD before I entered the family. I have been in her life for 5 years. My background is in Early Development and Education, and I entered this marriage with full knowledge of two things: 

1. When in doubt, LOVE MORE.

2. Children should not make/break a marriage.

 

My advice to any "bonus"-parents (AKA step-parents) to children on the spectrum:

For YOUR OWN SANITY:

1. Acknowledge their actual developmental delays:

http://www.community.nsw.gov.au/docswr/_assets/main/documents/par_development.pdf

--> by doing so, you can breathe a bit easier and avoid frustration

 

2. Check out SUPER-NANNY episodes.

http://www.supernanny.co.uk

--> children on the spectrum respond well to consistency. Posted rules. Posted Rewards. Posted repercussions. Refer to the posted info as often as necessary so it takes the onus off of you as the "evil-step-parent."

 

3. TRY (not saying it's possible!!!) to COLLABORATE with the other households involved in raising your step-child.

--> Nothing is more frustrating for me than getting our daughter into a wonderful pattern of self-efficacy, self-esteem, self-empowerment over a long weekend with her, only to have her visit her other family members and return home regressed and "learned-helpless," even to the point of her being unintentionally manipulative. 

 

I can't say it's possible to get everyone of your step-child's caregivers on the same page, but it doesn't hurt to try. We meet every other month to check on status, development, issues, etc. Even so.... doesn't mean they follow through on their end in a consistent manner.

 

4. RE-ENTRY. As children of divorced households travel back and forth between homes, rules, expectations, we make it a point to remind ALL of our children that they are at THIS HOUSE NOW. And give them about an hour to decompress before asking them to fall into chores, etc.

 

Hope this helps!

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Old 05-23-2014, 10:36 AM
 
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I am going this same problem with my husband who is step-father to my 9yr old with mild aspergers.  he feels like she ingores him, doesn't ackowledge him and has no idea that he is even around.  Then it becomes an argument between us when it looks like I am always taking her side, never his.  I sent your comment to him in hopes that he will start to see that this is not her being a pain in the butt; instead more like it's behavior we need to work to change OVER TIME.  The patience is the issue...he doesn't have it when i comes to this behavior.  I'm at my wits end about this.  I adore my husband and he is a good man with a huge heart.  But I also adore my daughter so this situation just breaks my heart some days...

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Old 06-02-2014, 07:51 AM
 
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Love my wife but her aspy teen's behavior makes me want to move out.

I'm at the verge of walking out for the sake of my health, the stress is too much so why should i sacrifice my own health and sanity for my 17 yr old aspergers step son? After 5 years of marriage my sex life has virtually disappeared and im the brunt of his anger. I am not willing to be the whipping post anymore. As a father in my early 50's, i am deciding what is more important: his future or my health and sanity, and the latter is looking like a better choice. I dont like waking up each morning with the thought, I HATE MY LIFE!

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Old 06-02-2014, 08:21 AM
 
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Yes, please remember this. My son has Asperger's. My Husband was the only Dad he ever knew, was in his life from the age of 6 to last year, when my Husband left me when my son was 14 1/2. I would never vocalize this to my son, but Asperger's did play a part in the breakup- my Husband was unable to see him as a child with a neurological problem, he just saw him as a spoiled, selfish child. I have to be honest- sometimes I love him only because I'm his Mother, it's just so hard to handle the behaviors sometimes. Does that make me a bad Mom? No, it just makes me human. Add that to the onset of puberty, which is rough for any child, and yes, it was/is very hard parenting my son. You will need alot of patience with your stepson in the next couple of years- please stick with it. My Husband did not. I can tell you from my son's experience- if you end up not being able to take it, it will affect your stepson more than it would affect any other "normal" child.
I would say a good 75% of the strife in my marriage is related to ASD related stress. My husband is ready to climb the walls because my daughter is incredibly bright, and incredibly stubborn. He tends to see her as spoiled, willful, difficult. He dislikes how she treats me, and he has a hard time looking past that to see that she has some very real reasons for her patterns of behavior.

I don't have a safe space to vent my frustrations about parenting her because he immediately criticizes her, and wants to lecture her to change her. Of course, it doesn't work that way.

She is almost 13. And she is making some progress. But it is hard, and I know that if I could get him to interact with her as I ask, it would be a lot easier for all of us. He, however, is also as Aspie as all get-out and was raised by parents who berated him into some semblance of compliance. He's too rigid himself to step outside of what he thinks.

So I am forever a mediator, and it is heartwrenching. But I love them both, and I will continue to try to mediate, and to help them both learn to empathize.
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