A few days ago, my son went out to check on the fort that he and some kids had been playing in that was made of a few evergreens and their branches. I told him that he and his sister could go out and take a look at the fort and come right back because I knew the other kids where there. When he didn't come back, I got nervous.
I walked out and around the corner of our building to find my angry son holding a large tree branch swinging it at the other kids while screaming. Obviously I started to scream at him to try to hinder any physical harm he may inflict upon the other kids. He dropped the branch and ran over to me, his face bright red and tears welling in his eyes. I called for his sister and she climbed out of the tree and slowly made her way over to me.
When we got inside my son started stomping, throwing himself on the floor and throwing pillows, papers, anything he could get his hands on. He was having a full on fit, what we can atomic tantrums. After knocking off the sign that I had carefully attached to his bedroom door in his rage, I called him over and said I needed to talk to him.
He told me that the other boys would not listen to him that he was telling them what they needed to do with the fort but they just wouldn't do it. After they refused to listen to his careful instruction, they told him that they didn't want him to play in the fort because he was weird. So one boy stood sentinel keeping him out and that is when the tree branch swinging began.
For years people looked at my kid having an atomic fit with such judgment, and honestly they still do. How could I allow such a grown up child to act in such a way when he needed to ....(fill in the blank; sit in church, eat in a restaurant, put his clothing on, etc.) I mean he still has issues eating, has next to no friends, has lived a life for the most part- developmentally delayed, but is smart as hell. He could tell you things about animals in the Rain Forest or waters of Antarctica that you would never have known otherwise and can build a shift or planet from Legos or Magnetics that leaves you wondering what goes on in that head of his. There is a simple, yet challenging explanation, my son has Asperger's Syndrome.
He came to me, all the anger falling away and fell into me sobbing. "Mom, I have no friends, nobody likes and they never will." I wanted to reassure him and tell him that people do like him, in fact they love him, but he doesn't want to hear me and I know that the truth is that he does have few friends. I want to tell him that he is wonderful and amazing, but all I can do is cry right there with him.
He pulls away from me; he doesn't like to be held or touched for very long, and is mumbling how he hates everyone and wants to move away. I tell him to follow me to my bedroom to talk. We lie on my bed and talk about how people are different, not just him, but everyone. I tell him that we can't push people to do what we think or know is the right thing to do, because no one likes to be bossed around. All we can do is make a suggestion and then let them do what they will do. We talk about how some times people break rules and he wants to tell them they need to do the right thing or what he says, but that is not always the best thing, unless there is something dangerous going on. I tell him that sometimes people are simply going think that he is different and will not want to be his friend and to that he just has to leave them alone.
I want to shield him from all the pain and frustration and anger that he feels when he is trying to interact with other kids, but I know that this is who my son is, an amazing, talented, smart, analytical, funny and handsome Asperger's kid and he always will be. We work every day on interventions like diet and therapy to help him cope with daily situations like this, but he is who he is and I can’t change him (nor would I want to) and I can’t shield him from everything. I will continue to try to teach him more than anything, to accept himself.
It's not the answer to the ultimate question; I think as a parent on a journey with two amazing kids, I have more questions than I do answers. Each day has its own challenges, but I take them as they come and try to be the best mother that I can be for my kids. This is our journey.