How Hard is to Hard to Push Your Aspie To be Social?

Noah continues to struggle at school on a social level.  He walks around depressed about his old friends that graduated or left the school, but refuses to move forward to reach out via Facebook and make new friends at school.  If Noah’s father and I didn’t push Noah, he won’t move forward.

Last week, I sat with him and showed him how to use Facebook to find his friends from last year.  I showed him how easy it was to stay connected.  But, I feel he really doesn’t get it.  Once his friends accepted the friend request, I explained that a good friend asks questions and doesn’t just spew stuff about mangas and anime.  No matter how many years he had in social skills group this part just doesn’t seem to connect always.

Yesterday, Noah had a senior swim party.  He wasn’t going to go at all!  This made my husband and I so sad.  It is his senior year; he should go and hang out, even if it is for a short time.  So, the day before the event, I drove Noah to school.  I had his undivided attention.  We usually have the best talks when it is just the two of us.  Originally, Noah’s plan was to visit the library, check out some books and movies for the weekend and have lunch.  I explained that he should make an appearance at the swim party and he might know some people there.  In fact, I told him he might have fun.  That’s when he told me he just likes to be alone.  That was hard to hear.  I told him lots of people like to be alone.  I have moments where I just need “Me time.”  However, I really want him to understand in the real world, he needs to try and step outside of his comfort zone, even if it just a little bit.  Any movement forward is better than none.

Recently, Noah told us about a class trip during Spring Break.  He really wants to go.  Perfect!  It is the bait we needed.  We told him that we would only agree to pay for this trip if he works hard in school and begins to be more social by making new friends and attending some events.

I just don’t want him to be alone in the world.  This is my biggest fear.  Am I pushing too hard?

Summer time fun…to be or not to be

Summer is supposed to be fun in the sun with friends. Kids should be hanging out at the beach, eating ice cream everyday, swimming, going to movies, or hanging out on the street shooting the breeze. However for kids with social and emotional issues this type of frolicking in the summer is challenging. These kids prefer to be isolated in his/her room, only to be forced to connect with friends in order to get out of the house. Now take this one step father by sending this child to a sleep away camp for a few weeks. I have sent my child to a leadership training program. He wanted to go. He filled out the application. I just wanted to support him! My husband and i were so proud that our son took the initiative to apply. As his mom, I am nervous about certain things but I am familiar with the camp and I know I sent him to a safe place. He is with nine other boys in a cabin and the camp leader. He is forced to deal with being social at some level.

As a child, my parents always told me that I needed to fall on my face so that I could learn how to help myself work out my problem. This is the same for my child. He needs to work things out for himself without me running interference for him. The most difficult part in parenting is watching this process happen. There is an ongoing conversation happening inside my head, “It is good for him. He will be fine. He needs to go through these issues on his own in order to grow.” Then the reply is “Oh, I hope he can work this out. I don’t want him to be unhappy or feel anxious.” Then, I hear myself saying, “The only reason he is having issues is because he wants to retreat, be alone and play the addictive game boy. So chill out! He will be fine.”

How does a parent work through these types of situations without having a panic attack? I would love to have some helpful tips.

Remember there is always hope…

Last night the family went to the weekly session. We started working on the social deficit component in our son. Through our discussion the therapist presented our son with his perspective. The therapist told our son that he has a blind spot when it comes to connecting socially. In addition because it is a blind spot, requires more effort on our son’s part, that our son doesn’t want to put in that effort because it can be difficult. After our son hemmed, hawed and rebutted, at the end of the session our son finally admitted, the real reason he hasn’t reached out to make friends is he is lazy and it takes work to make new friends.

So, why am I happy about this realization for my son? I am happy because the light is on and now the work can truly begin. He may not be open to all our ideas but we can always bring him back to his words, “I am lazy…” Because these words are his way of realizing his blind spot and needs help!

I will keep you all posted!

Another great session

What luck we have to find this amazing therapist! He is loaded with great and helpful ideas to help our son move forward in his development. The challenge with these new ideas is they need to be rolled out slowly over time. The therapist suggest that we roll out a new expectation each month while continuing with the latest expectations.
So last month our new expectation is that our son reached out to a friend for a social hangout. While the social component continues, we are adding a physical component to his routine this month. We are giving him a choice (sort of) he can choose to run, hike, or walk at least two or three times a week for a minimum for 20 minutes.
Yesterday was the first day of implementing the physical part. How did that work out for our son? Not well in the beginning! He did not want to do any of it at all! I had to stand firm and remind him that not choosing is not a choice. So, we live in an area of hills, so I took him to the top. I pulled the car over and told him to get out of the car and walk home. He was so angry that he said,”Be prepared for me never to talk to you again.” Well,that didn’t last long.
In conjunction with rolling out new expectations, the therapist wants to make sure our son is making a connection to us via projects and not entertainment. The idea is not to just watch to a movie and think that he is connecting. The idea to work together on project type activities that will illicit conversation and team work. I try to have our son help in the kitchen. He is a little foodie and loves to eat good food. The part is do able. The addition to that is to check-in with our son and see if he is connecting to us. Well, this is going to take work put it that way:(. But Rome was not built in a day. When we say, “Hey, I love cooking with you.” His reply,”I love our dog.” Like I said Rome wasn’t built in a day.
The most important part for us as parents is to continue to push him forward in order for him to have a full and prosperous life in the future. In addition, it is important for us as parents to stand firm when he tries to push back.

Our dog…

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So much at once….

You know, your brain can only handle so much stress. Some of the issues we have had with our son are too personal to share. They have been issues of his vision of his life, the feature and things I don’t even think I worried about as a kid. This has been way too much for my brain to absorb. I needed to process everything he said to us.
As I write this blog, I find my self looking at old pictures and reminisce back to when he was three years old with a wide eyed smile. There was such a light around him when he was younger. The light is still there, but under his stress on life and school, it has dimmed. I know these issues are normal for a teen. My brain understands this part, but my heart aches watching him meander his way through the challenges of life. After all, I am a mama bear!

Now we remember when our parents put their foot in their mouths. Do you remember when you walked away feeling stupid for being so open with your parents? I do! I remember saying, “I’ll never tell them anything again.” I really didn’t share much after feeling humiliated. Some parents first reaction and mistake, when the child shares something deeply personal would be to say, “How would you know?” or “You are too young” “You cant tell what the feature will bring”. Basically, dismissing the child’s feelings and fears.

I am trying not to be that parent. The best thing for a parent to do is to figuratively bite your tongue. This is not always possible. After all, I am an Italian jew with a short fuse, which I have learned to control over time. Moreover, I am NOT perfect.
After you bite your tongue, tell your child you love them and let the situation rest until your child is ready to talk some more and you are ready to actively listen. That is listen with out projecting your thoughts or your fears. Remember, it is not about you. It is about them.

So, you are probably asking yourself, “How did she do?” Well, I did okay, like I said, I am not perfect. My problem was that I wanted to have a discussion, a two way dialogue about what my son told me. See that was the mistake. He didn’t want a conversation. He just wanted me to hear his thoughts. I wasn’t supposed to ask questions are seem interested in his ideas. So, note to self, next time, just say, “I hear you” and move on.

Thanks for reading:).
I’ll post again soon.

Sorry, I have been overwhelmed lately. Ahhhhh……

Wow, I have not written in such a long time. What kept me away? I am dealing with a bout of depression. It is not the type of depression where one can’t move physically. It is the type where you go about the normal routine sometimes with a smile, all the while, in your heart sits a stinging pain. The aching pain increases and decreases, but it never goes away. If you were on the outside and didn’t know me well, you would never know I was struggling. I am not searching for pity. That is not the purpose of this blog.

I am depressed over the mix of my class. There are some brutal behavior problems, as well a, children and parents who don’t value education. They would rather tell me how awful of a person I am for holding students accountable for their behavior and their learning. Then throw in my son who struggles with his aspergers, anxiety, and teenage hormones. Oye!!!!!!! All I wanted to do is run away and hide. I am still struggling with this depression, but I am forcing myself to sit here and write about it in hopes that my journey may help someone else who struggles with life’s crazy journey.

So, parents out there, it is okay to stick your head under the pillow for a bit if things become overwhelming. The most important part is that you resurface and take care of yourself in order for you to have the strength to handle the rest of the chaotic life.

So how did I start to pull myself out. Well, I had one of my good friends constantly tell me, “If you don’t take care of yourself first, you can’t take care of anyone else”. She the type of friend everyone should have. the type of friend who tells you what you need to hear and not only what you want to hear.
It wasn’t right away that I took her message to heart. As I drove by my gym each day on my way home, I heard her in my ear telling me the same thing over and over. Finally, I took the first step. I drove to the gym. Within a month or so, I pushed myself back into the gym at least four times a week. Now on Saturday, I have a great yoga class to help center myself. Then, I spin and imagine I am smushing melons under my bike wheels. I feel so empowered when I get off the bike. Even when I don’t have time for a class, a great hike or walk is refreshing. I use my friends advise as my mantra. It is really helped to put things in perspective.

I am sure I may be hit again by this paralyzing bullet train, called depression, but if I continue some sort of yoga and exercise plus FIND A THERAPIST, I know I will be able to handle my crazy life in a more healthier productive way.

I will post again soon. Thanks for reading!

Kill Them with Kindness Right?

My son failed his math test. According to the IEP, he is allowed to retake the test. However, what the RSP teachers don’t explain is that the child is supposed to request it. Okay, I understand wanting students to learn to advocate for themselves. I appreciate teaching this life skill. However, tell the parents of these spectacular children. It is part of my duty as a parent to support my child and explain to him this new process at his new school.

So, my son finally asks to take the test again. The RSP teacher said,”ok”. So, one week goes by and no retake. My husband and I email the teacher and no response. It has been over two weeks.

Finally today, I sent an email that was kind but firm. The email said. “I know it is a busy time, however we haven’t heard from you. We would like to know what is happening.” I think that is much better than what I really wanted to say.
Even though there is this one issue, these teachers are amazing. My son has made tremendous growth towards independence. I am so thankful to have them in his corner. Because I was gentle in my tone, I am sure this will remedy itself quickly.