Asperger’s Diagnosis Difficulties {Autism Awareness Month}

by GfG on April 12, 2013 · 9 comments

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Mommy circles can be pretty brutal places.  Or they can be places of love and grace.  Which circle are we cultivating?

When I was a new mom, I was guilty of not extending much grace to mothers who parented differently.  Actually, that was true less than five years ago.   Gratefully, God opened my eyes to the judgmental attitude that reigned in my heart.

Still, I see it regularly.   Moms harshly judging others, often with only surface level information.

Why do I bring this up during Autism Awareness Month?  Because we can bless parents of children with autism with our grace and compassion.

autism awareness

Why do I single out Asperger’s?  I have found that the Asperger’s* diagnosis is the hardest to find grace from other moms because of how it manifests.

Asperger’s often looks like poor parenting or lack of discipline.  It’s not.   The child lacks the ability to grasp social cues of all kinds and has difficulty with self control and other behaviors

Remember this diagram?

new-ASD

Do you see the two circles that Asperger’s incompasses?  Behavior and social.

Children with Asperger’s can seem like a typical child, until you are around them closely for awhile, then you will notice the behaviors that are “quirky” or “inappropriate” (not in a bad way, just in an uncomfortable way).

Communication skills are on par or even above, so these kiddos/adults are verbal, often very much so.  They just lack the filter for what is appropriate to be verbal about and lack the self control skills to stop themselves, which falls in the social and behavior category.

Behavior often seems obsessive to others or repetitive in an unusual way.  Their behavior often shows a  lack empathy for others.

Social interaction is often completely inappropriate or awkward.  There is usually an inability to read a situation or even nonverbal clues from others.

I am not attempting to fully describe Asperger’s.  Here is a test/checklist for Asperger’s that may help you see some more characteristics. 

Naturally, these vary in degree for each person with Asperger’s.

Of course, with training, they can develop and improve these skills, but they will always a struggle in some way.

Usually, these behaviors are ones that “should” have been mastered at a younger age, so what mommies do is jump to the poor parenting card.

They may not flash the card, but they’ll wave it in their heart.  They’ll possibly show it on their face.  Or talk about it to other mommies.

And one mommy is suddenly judged. And found lacking.

Instead of extending grace and taking the time to consider that maybe, just maybe, there is something atypical going on, poor parenting is the decision.

I’ve seen it happen.  I’ve done it.  I’ve heard countless times of others doing it.

One woman I knew who had a child with Asperger’s said that she started carrying business cards that said something like this:

Our son has Asperger’s, which is related to autism.  We are working hard with him to help him develop skills in many areas, but please know we are trying.  Harsh stares.  Unkind words.  Rude nonverbals.  None of those encourage or help us.  Please look up Asperger’s to see what my son is having to work through and maybe extend kindness to the next child and mother you see in our situation.

How heartbreaking that she felt the need to carry such a card.

It’s true, though, that children with Asperger’s syndrome lack the blatantly obvious clues that autism has, so children seem to be undisciplined, when they aren’t.  They just have to be disciplined and trained differently.

And their mamas sure could use some grace, some love, and some compassion.

They are working ten times harder than the rest of us to teach appropriate behavior and social skills.

I remember a woman who fully believed and shared, “I believe all children can be trained in the same way.  The same principles apply to all children, regardless of ‘issues’.”  Sigh. I  wish I had had the courage to tell her she was wrong.  While all children are wonderful and deserve loving parenting, they don’t all learn appropriate behavior in the same way.  There is no one size fits all child training.

Her kind of mentality and lack of grace is what hurts so many mothers.  Let’s not be that mom.

May our mommy circles encompass those who are working with different circles.  May they be loving places of encouragement and grace.  May they not leave hard working women on the outside.

Do you know any mothers of kiddos with Asperger’s? 

*Remember, as I said in my first Autism Awareness post, the DSM5 takes Asperger’s out as a separate syndrome and it becomes autism only.

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