My oldest son is so close to “normal” but also so far from it… and last night I confessed to my husband that sometimes I wished he was either completely “normal” or lower functioning.
He has Asperger’s Syndrome, a high functioning form of Autism. He can be social – he looks me in the eye, gives me hugs, tells me he loves me, he laughs, he cries, he is able to communicate the really deep thoughts that are going on in his brain, he’s able to be in a regular ed classroom (part of the day), he can get along with other kids (sometimes), he can run and play (although he’d rather be watching TV or playing video games). For those things, I am very blessed and very thankful. So why on earth would I wish sometimes that he was lower functioning?
Because he often annoys those around him with his non stop talking about things he’s passionate about that others either don’t care about or know about to the degree that he does. Because his social awkwardness often comes across as selfish, non caring, rude, and thoughtless. Because his meltdowns (though not as often as they used to be) are not expected from a 10-year-old. Because he can obsess about things such as furniture placement or why on earth the school would replace the old playground that he liked better. Because he’s sloppy and doesn’t respect other people’s property.
I know these don’t seem like reasons to want him to be lower functioning. But here’s the thing, all of these things cause people, both adults and children alike, to not like him or not want to be around him. And that breaks my heart. But what breaks my heart more, is that he wants people to like him. You see, in my mind, if he were lower functioning, it would be more obvious that he’s not “normal” and people (especially his peers) would be more forgiving of his actions. As it is, he just comes across as weird or defiant or mean. And in all honesty, I think I’d feel less judged. Whenever he behaves in a socially unacceptable way, I always feel like people are judging me as a mom and I sometimes feel embarrassed of him – and I hate that! Also, many lower functioning Aspy (Asperger’s) kids don’t care or don’t realize what others feel about them… and somehow as a girl who used to be very aware of the parties she wasn’t invited to and the kids who didn’t want to be my friend or made fun of me, not realizing seems like a blessing.
I do embrace who he is… he is amazing! He is loving and insightful and smart and affectionate. He can be kind and thoughtful and caring and funny. He is perfectly imperfect and he’s mine and I love him. But being his mom is not always easy… there is always a balance of trying to figure out what is a discipline issue, what is a training issue, what he can learn, what he can’t, how to hold him accountable to things that make no sense to him and doing all this while trying to keep my emotions in check.
I share this today just to be real and honest. Because sometimes putting words to feelings is therapeutic, and sometimes somebody else needs to know that there is someone who feels the same way they do.
And also perhaps so that some will be a little more forgiving of him and his actions…
♥Becki, imperfect mother of a special needs child