Friday, February 5, 2016

Parenting Strategies for Aspies


The Asperger's traits addressed in this post include:
*Difficulty expressing emotions appropriately
*Difficulty communicating
*Much time spent on introspection

Welcome back to myself as a blogger! It's been six months since I last wrote a post, and I want to thank those of you who have continued to view this blog and read or reread the content already on here. I also wanted to let you know about my Facebook page, which is entitled, "Asperger's Traits and Christian Living," the same as the blog. It's the best place to stay alert to new posts on the blog, so please "Join" and "Share," if you're on Facebook.

As to why I let the blog lag for six months, the biggest reason is that I'm expecting a baby, and morning sickness hit me with a vengeance this time, my second pregnancy. A friend predicted that it would be a boy, based on the fact that this experience with morning sickness was very different (much worse) than my experience with my first pregnancy, a girl. She was right! Please keep me (Sharon Rose) and my family in your prayers as we prepare for our baby boy to join us in early summer, Lord willing.

As I grow as a parent, it brings my mind back to my relationship with my own parents as a child. Both of my parents identify with the core Asperger's traits, though in other ways, their personalities are very different. I'd like to list a few ways they helped me to cultivate helpful Asperger's traits and overcome the limiting traits.

1. Starting when I was 3, my dad trained me to smile for pictures. His efforts produced a range of smiles, from half-smiles with only one corner turned up, to cheesy "show your teeth" smiles. (He literally said, "Show your teeth," LOL.) But after I practiced, the smiles became more natural, and I have been unable to NOT smile for pictures ever since. I know two ladies with Asperger's traits who simply didn't smile well when they were little, and were teased about being grumpy all the time, when they actually felt fine. Sometimes, with Aspies, emotions don't reach the face accurately, though with others of us, emotions show too readily at times when they should be hid.

2. My dad's sense of humor involved making up silly stories and seeing if he could get me to believe them. Although he didn't know it, this strategy probably helped me a lot in combating the usual Asperger's traits of taking things literally and accepting without question that others are as honest and forthright as you are. If you use this tactic for humor, I just caution that you do what my dad always did, and explain quickly that you are "teasin', trickin', and foolin'." If you string somebody along too far, they will end up feeling that the joke is on them, and will resent it. By the time I was seven, I could judge when my dad was kidding based on his tone of voice and twinkle in his eye, thereby adding to my ability to interpret nonverbal language, which is a struggle for many Aspies.

3. Fast forward to my teenage years . . . My parents let me know exactly what kind of social behavior was annoying or inappropriate. This felt like nagging and criticism to me, but I needed it. Two of the biggies were: Don't mumble. ("I'm not talking to you - I'm talking to myself," I would reply. Yeah. Not socially acceptable, but a classic case of introspection taking precedence over communication.) Don't ignore me when I've said your name. (Extremely hard to do when I had my nose buried in a book, but I finally snapped out of it when my mom jabbed at my pride by putting up a star chart, "like teachers do for kindergarteners," as she said.)

I think three examples will do for now! In case you're wondering, my parents are still around now, still married to each other, and still two of my closest friends. My dad just doesn't do "teasin', trickin', and foolin'," like he used to.

How this topic relates to Christian living:

"Honour thy father and thy mother, as the Lord thy God hath commanded thee; that thy days may be prolonged, and that it may go well with thee, in the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee."
Deuteronomy 5:16