Our son (12) has indicated he doesn't agree with his diagnosis from 2 years ago, ( I worry he is ashamed of it, and fervently wishes not to be different) so we have followed his lead and dealt with any issues around school/anxieties as they come up without mentioning it.
I wonder if this is a common situation?
He receives and accesses (excellent) additional support at school (secondary) but I feel he doesn't accept his overall situation of having Aspergers. I'd love him to embrace it a bit more because I think he would embrace himself as a person a bit more if he did. It also would mean I could widen the support and understanding he would be able to access (like this website) which would maybe help him find pathways that could help him.
I also worry our explanation of his diagnosis wasn't as good as it could have been but now wonder if we need to talk to him about it again.
Should we *force* a discussion on him (i.e. us taking the lead) or keep allowing him to lead us (although this seems to us to limit his opportunities to develop more positively)?
Is anyone else experiencing this?
Many thanks for any response.
We can’t force people to accept themselves. If we could, we would have more people than we currently have who accept themselves. Therefore a discussion around this subject will also not succeed in its endeavour.
Children learn best by example. If you want to take the lead, show him, through your actions and in your day to day life how you accept yourself and how it brings great joy and multiple possibilities and opportunities into your life. He will see that you stand out from the rest, you ooze confidence and shine from within, to all those that can see. He is in a unique situation. He is living up close and intimate with you so even if he doesn’t have the vision to see how much you accept yourself and how that brings you so much peace, comfort and happiness, he will see the results of that and they will have more of an impact on him than any amount of talking will.
If he doesn’t agree with the diagnosis, support that. By showing confidence in him, he will begin to have confidence in himself. If he disagrees with the diagnosis and you tell him it’s correct, he will eventually get confused and lose confidence in himself. He will be thinking inside, this isn’t right but they’re telling me it is. I trust my parents so they must be right, they wouldn’t lie to me so therefore I must be wrong. It sets up the idea within us that we’re wrong and other people are not only right, but that they know us better than we do ourselves. This leads to a lot of inner torment and turmoil.
Many people don’t identify with labels, I’m on one them, up to a point. I accept the label of autism because it answered so many questions for me. Questions your son hasn’t yet formulated so the answers are useless to him. Him coming on this site would be like you going on a site for bald midget men with only one leg and trying to get identification and validation. What we get from this site is identification, validation and mutual support. We are learning that we are right, even though we were told repeatedly when we were growing up that we were wrong.
He doesn’t need to own the label. He simply needs to embrace himself and he’ll do that over time (this is what youth is for) - if he is encouraged to have confidence in himself and he is supported to do so by the people around him who he relies upon to show him how to live in the world. He needs people to show him, not tell him, and you can show him by having confidence in yourself, accepting yourself and letting him see what that means. Kids pick up on things more than we give them credit for, this is how they learn, by example. Be his role model. He might not see you as his hero yet, but trust me, if you be his biggest supporter, one day you will be brought to tears when your boy calls you his hero. I know. I may not have brought my son up in the traditional way and I have had lots of people telling me I was doing it wrong, but my boy has told me on several occasions that I’m his hero. We’ve even got the same tattoo. I was in Bali and he was in Mexico and we both had the same idea for the same tattoo and when he sent me a picture, from Mexico, of his tattoo, I went and got mine done the next day. The other picture he sent me was of him in a night club holding up a sign saying momma’s boy. My boy is nothing like a typical mommas boy, he had a very, let’s say, colourful upbringing, but I taught him through my actions to be proud of who he was and that no nobody is better than him and nobody is worse, nobody has a right to mistreat him, not even me, and he has no right to mistreat others, nobody knows him better than he does and don’t let anybody, including me, tell him otherwise. And he’s one of the most wonderful people you could ever wish to meet, despite him not following my idea of what I thought was best for him. I kept that kind of quite. I did mention it to him but my idea of what was best for him, didn’t meet with his.
And don’t worry about your explanation of the diagnosis not being as good as you think it could have been. It was the best you could do at the time, with all the knowledge, understanding and awareness that you had at that time. Our best, is always good enough. Don’t teach him the harmful habit of worrying. It helps nobody. Nobody can make sound decisions when they’re full of worry.
It’s clear to me that you love your son and want the best for him but parents are rarely seen that way by their kids. At least not while they are kids. And it’s becauae parents have gotten into the habit of thinking they know what’s best for their kid and they know their kid better than the kid does so we tell them what to think, feel and do and what is best for them. Kids resent and rebel against this. It’s horrible to be told your wrong by the person you love when you honestly feel right. And everybody is right in how they feel and see the world, according to them. It destroys a part of the heart and soul when the person we love and rely on goes against us and tells us we’re wrong and they’re right.
And yes of course allow him to lead you. Where is he leading you? Is he not simply showing you who he is, what he enjoys, what he doesn’t. He’s simply finding his way in the world and that has to be lead by him, otherwise he is simply learning to live according to somebody else’s idea of how to live and he will never accept that, not inwardly, nobody can, but some people get good at putting on a mask while slowly and quietly, behind the mask, they fade away. Yes, talk to him but talk to him, have a dialogue, help him find out who he is. Words can be powerful and beautiful yet they can often fail us when we are trying to express ourselves to another, particularly when you’re autistic and you’re nearly a teenager. He needs to learn from you how to express himself because they don’t teach that at school, the kids in the play ground don’t teach that and like everything, like learning to read and write, we need to be taught. Teach him how to talk and when he’s ready, he will.
Thank you for your reply, it has really helped and eased my own worry. I think we do support and encourage him to be himself, be proud of himself and don't expect him to be anything he's not - we don't live that way as family so he is hopefully seeing that doing things your own way is the best way, to be celebrated.
When he first said I don't think I've got Aspergers we were like - fine. We don't refer to it unless he does ( and he has, recently, just twice), and as I said, we help him deal with any worries, while championing him to feel strong for who is.....sometimes as parents we all look for ways to improve our kids' lots and worry we're doing too much/too little - all that guilt thing.
I will keep referring back to your reply, there's a lot in it that helps and resonates, thanks again.