Asperger’s Syndrome or more commonly referred to now as Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a condition that is growing in recognition these days. I never thought I’d have a child with special needs when I dreamed about becoming a mom. But that’s how it ended up. My oldest is 10 years old now and was diagnosed with Asperger’s at 8 years old. We went through many struggles with him before we ended up with a diagnosis and a direction to help manage our daily life and help him grow and develop in a way that he could understand.
To start out we noticed he was a little more independent than most of his peers. He was very content to entertain himself and at times seemed to prefer to be on his own. He always seemed to move to the beat of his own drum. I did like that he was independent to a point, but wanted him to be sociable and have friends as well. He was very meticulous about organization and straight lines for example, lining things up. If someone moved a toy or item that he had lined up, he would go make sure it was back in line. A bit of a perfectionist even at the young age of only 2 years old.
We really started to notice when he started Kindergarten. A lot of the initial struggles were around bathroom issues. He would hold his stools on a regular basis thus causing soiled underwear, I can’t tell you how infuriating and exhausting that was. At one point we found out he was urinating in the corner of the bathroom… right next to the stool. Quite frustrating to say the least. When asked why, he couldn’t give us an answer. He had an amazing teacher whom I will be forever grateful for as she helped us stay in the loop and we worked very closely together to address the issues and realize that there was a bigger issue at hand.
Parker was not a defiant child by nature, so as we started to notice things that seemed out of character I started to keep a log of his behaviors. We did some occupational therapy for a short time during his kindergarten year and he seemed to improve. His 1st grade year was a bit more challenging. Although his teacher was a very pleasant person – she seemed to struggle with the structure & consistency that Parker required. The summer after 1st grade was by far the most frustrating of all experiences up to that point. He was constantly getting into trouble for the same things over and over again. My husband and I were both raised with consequences and parents that followed through on them consistently. So by nature we parent the same way. The consequences would get more severe with each incident. However they were not correcting or discouraging the negative behavior. I was to the point of wondering if he even cared that he was getting into trouble. He seemed emotionless when we would be discussing the situation (some were more vocal discussions than others unfortunately). How do you punish or attempt to correct negative behaviors in a child that doesn’t care about consequences? You can’t… if they don’t care – there is no incentive for them to quit doing those acts if the consequences don’t matter to them.
I was brought to tears many times over out of frustration and anger, and complete confusion as to why he wasn’t changing his behaviors and actions. His younger brother by almost 2 years was learning from his own consequences if he got in trouble, which was rare and actually learning from Parker’s as well. Hunter at 5 years old was telling Parker who was 7, the things he should or shouldn’t do because it was wrong and he’d get into trouble. Definitely not the normal situation with siblings.
So after that summer I knew I needed to seek out some help. We were lost on what to do to get him and our family back on track. I was to the point where I was even having a hard time being around him because it was always a battle, conflict or struggle of some sort and I was emotionally and physically exhausted! Poor Hunter was frustrated too as he was often by himself when Parker was “grounded” or carrying out his punishment. For a younger brother who looks up to and loves playing with his older brother, he was suffering as well since Parker seemed to ALWAYS be in trouble for something.
When Parker turned 7 in early June we had a check up with his pediatrician, who was my pediatrician growing up as well as my siblings. And also the doctor to my nieces and nephew. So he knew our family well to say the least. I had brought up some of my concerns at that check up as I had done at previous ones, but didn’t have a ton of details or timeline to really show the full picture. By early August – I was so overwhelmed that I wrote him a letter with a list of the many situations we had since encountered in that 2 month time frame- it was a daunting list. This got the ball rolling as he was able to really review the more detailed information I had compiled to see that there was more going on than just a child testing the boundaries.
We started with a Pediatric Psychologist as well as some Neuropsychology testing. I loved the Psychologist we worked with, she was very empathetic and was able to give us a few things to work on right away to help with some of his bathroom issues as well as behavioral to get us at least started down a more positive path until all the testing could be completed. After observation and many different assessments and tests, in early December of 2013 he was official diagnosis was Asperger’s Syndrome and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). No Wonder we weren’t getting through to this poor kid. Never mind having a hard time focusing or paying attention and controlling his impulses from the ADHD he also processes information so differently than the average kid and lacks the emotional ties due to the Asperger’s.
So we had a diagnosis – an answer of sorts to help explain why we were having the struggles that we were. That alone helped me almost instantly have more patience with him as I finally knew he wasn’t doing it just to push boundaries or be defiant (which again, wasn’t in his nature up to that point). I also then immediately felt guilty for so much of what we had attempted to do to correct his behavior over the past year and the times I yelled because I was so frustrated, overwhelmed, and hurt because I thought he was acting out on purpose. He must have been so confused and just as frustrated with us since things weren’t making sense to him either. He couldn’t correlate the consequences with the negative behavior – so to him, he just kept getting punished and yelled at over and over but he didn’t know how to make it stop any more than we knew how to get him to understand our reasons behind the punishments.
We had a new understanding and a ton of research to do to help educate ourselves on Asperger’s Syndrome or Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) which was the new terminology the medical field was using starting in 2013. People with Asperger’s think in a very black and white manner & are very literal & fact based. So things such as sarcasm are completely lost on them. They generally do not understand sarcastic comments, and will take things at face value. Schedule is very important and in most cases relied upon for them to function well. I happened to be watching the series Parenthood during all of this struggle and if you aren’t familiar with it, one of the characters on there is a very sever case of Asperger’s. Parker is a relatively mild case and doesn’t have the outbursts that some do, thankfully. But I could identify with a lot of the scenarios that’s or sure!
Most people work outside the home and have to balance their lives with work, home life, housekeeping, social life and activities etc. Adding in a child with special needs, or accommodations just adds to that as well. We are away for a minimum of 9 hours if not more, per day. Then you come home, get homework done, get supper made, try to eat as a family around the sports activities etc, get laundry done, keep up with the other house and yard work, and try to get to bed at a decent hour right. That doesn’t leave much time for anything else, then about the time you finally get to sit down and relax a bit it’s time for bed. Leaving little time for special activities or quality time with the kids. Everyone has their own priorities of course, so will adjust based on that. Well I was tired of all of that! Tired of not having enough vacation time for the things we wanted to do, or not being able to be off work for something that we had going on or that the kids had going on. I’m guessing many people have that same frustration but most don’t do anything to change it, that’s just what you do, you have to work of course to make a living. But I wanted more! I wanted more free time to do what we as a family wanted, I wanted to make more money to be able to provide more adventures for us. I wanted to be able to focus on the household things while the boys were in school so when they came home – I could give them my undivided attention and make those memories that will last a life time. I knew there were people out there doing it – so I knew it was possible. I had always wanted the freedom of working from home or at least working independently where the limits were only those in my mind that I could easily push away and surpass and make our wildest dreams come true.
So I started to once again, research the wonderful world of internet marketing. I’ve explained in other previous posts my marketing attempts and
failures learning lessons! 😉 But I had more ammo behind my efforts this time and was more determined than ever before to make these dreams come true. To tell my husband that he can quit a job that is so physically demanding on him and that he hates – boy will I have a post about that when it happens!! To take my dad on a trip to Australia with us, like he did for me when I was 12! To take my mom back to England where she had visited years back and loved, to show my small town farm boy husband the wonders of the world that he’s never had an opportunity to experience but would love to! To have more time with my boys to create the memories of quality time with them and not feel so pressured by all the other “things” that need to get done all while spending 9 hours a day at work and weekends at times. I wanted more and no one was going to tell me I couldn’t have it!
So many people can make this decision for themselves if they REALLY want it – Some people are happy with and even love their careers outside the home, and that’s fantastic! We need people people in this world with all different career preferences of course! What’s important is loving what you do and living the life you want for you and your family whatever that lifestyle may be for YOU! For me – I’m tired of the corporate world and I’m working towards changing that. It is not happening over night of course, it takes work, it takes focus and determination, and it takes the right opportunity for it to happen and I’ve finally found that. For those that are wanting to change their path – I welcome you to reach out and make that decision to create the life you want for yourself. Sit back and evaluate your current situation. Are you happy? What else do you want out of life? If you want more – go get it! Don’t let anyone tell you it can’t happen – you make your own dreams come true! I’m happy to extend a hand to anyone out there that wants to venture into this world – I’ve gone round and round with this industry and have experienced just about everything it seems! It was frustrating and scary many times over but each of those scary and frustrating steps has made me more focused and determined to make this happen and now I am! Im on my way it won’t be long before I’m doing this full time and living the life I thought was only a fantasy and unattainable! It’s all about having an Entrepreneurial Mindset if this is the life you want! Learn more About me and my history and why I’m a great person to partner with and learn from to help you finally change your life too!
Wishing you all the success and happiness life can bring!