Tag Archives: Asperger

2.23.16~ Engaging

My oldest son lives life from the high functioning side of the Autism Spectrum.  To be exact the official terminology is Asperger’s, even though we are not into labels.

Like with our other children we see him as a unique child of God with strengths, gifts, and talents.  Part of our job as parents is to help each of our sons discern God’s calling on their lives, and to journey with them in the process.  Somewhere along the line we believe this means using all that God has given them to be contributing and productive members of society.

Last night I had the opportunity to be engaged by my son as we talked about theology, Star Wars, and life calling.  Evidently, he has a better grasp on the book of Revelation, and other parts of the Bible, than I do.  He talked, I talked.  He listened, I listened.  He laughed, I laughed. He cried, I almost cried.  We had a good time.

I don’t know about all autistic children, and I say this because the spectrum is so wide and varied, but I do know with my son that engaging him on topics he is interested in is very important.  This is of course is true for almost all of us.  We engage more, and talk more on those things we are interested in.

If I talk to my son about basketball he wants nothing to do with it.  If I engage him in conversation about Star Wars, the Bible, World War 2, airplanes, farming, eating healthy, or what he wants to do and be when he grows up I get 60 minute, in depth, conversations. My job is to listen and engage him in the conversation.  Ask questions.  Give feed back.  Give him love, support, and care.  (That’s how we ought to be in all of our conversations.)

Part of this process includes helping him with some of the social skills that are hard for him.  As I engage him in conversation we make eye contact, we allow each other space in the midst of our word exchange, and I try to model the way a conversation is supposed to happen.

I suppose the reminder for me is I need to engage him and my other sons in this manner on a regular basis.  Having conversations like this with them will definitely allow us to connect, and will help them along the path of becoming who the are supposed to be in responses to God’s call on their lives.

 

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Recliner

I just watched this Ted Talk by Rosie King titled “How Autism Freed Me To Be  Myself.”

There’s a line in the video where she says “it’s not a disability, it’s an ability.”

As the father of a child on the Autism Spectrum, I get that line, and understand the responsibility of helping him know it too.

My oldest son has many abilities that bring out the uniqueness and creativity of who he is.

Simply being with him is a joy, but every once and awhile I get a little more.

This evening was one of those times.

I was sitting in the recliner after dinner, and he came and climbed in my lap.

And we snuggled … for 15 minutes or so.

As we sat there together we talked and we were quiet.

I gave him big hugs, and massaged his arms and back. (Sensory and tactile “issues” mean these are favorites.)

He relaxed, and nestled in close.

My son is 14 years old, and I cherished every moment of our time in the chair this evening.

I’m thankful for my son’s ability to not be to old to spend time with his dad, whether snuggling in a chair or helping him drive a golf cart … which is a whole other story!

I’m glad I get to be his dad.


Army Guys

(New and more attainable goal is three posts a week.)

During my morning shower, as I glanced at the small pile of plastic Army figurines in the corner of the tub, I was reminded of their significance in our family.

On a side note we have had toys left in the bath tub for the last 14 years, left behind after one of or more of our boys are done cleansing themselves in the murky water of the deep. This still happens now because our oldest, who lands on the high functioning end of the Autism Spectrum (Asperger’s) loves taking baths, and loves using his vivid imagination to reenact battle scenes he reads about in his World War 2 books. At least we don’t have to do full-blown Civil War reenactments.

Back to plastic Army guys and their significance in our family. Three points.

1. I’m a Quaker (Friends) minister, and adopt much of the theology, philosophy, and interpretation of the Friends’ Church. Historically and currently, part of the Friends’ testimony includes peace, which encourages us to live in peace with other people in the normalcy of everyday life, and in the context of all of humanity situated around the world. Having Army guys in the house, and one son who is into studying World War 2 and everything about airplanes, could be a bit of a dilemma, but generally has led to good conversations and a healthy understanding and view of both the peace testimony and war. Having Army guys in the house allows us the opportunity to share our thoughts, beliefs, and opinions with one other.

2. Having Army guys in the house has allowed my boys to have fun at my expense. A few years ago they pulled off a very good prank lasting a few weeks, if not more. At the time I was working as an AFLAC agent, and had to dress “professionally” on a regular, if not daily, basis. (Even though I showed up to what I didn’t know was an interview in a hoodie, cargo shorts, and crocs.) One afternoon when I was gone the boys went in to my closed and strategically placed Army guys in several of the pockets of my nice shirts and pants. Most of the time I would find the Army guys when I was getting dressed. However on occasion I would be in a meeting or meeting with a client when I would reach into my pocket and pull out a small plastic Army figurine ready to shoot me in the face. Having Army guys in the house allowed my sons the opportunity to be creative and pull a prank on me.

3.  Having Army guys in the house allows for imaginations to be used and for fun to be had together. Many battles have taken place on a bedroom floor between my sons and the platoons of Army guys stretched before them on the bedroom floor. The creativity in destroying each other’s well thought out plans of attack was masterful. Because of technology, that’s what I blame it on any way, creativity and imagination are not allowed to run as wild as they once were, and if plastic Army guys have helped to encourage these two things in our house I support them %100. The other benefit is that during the course of play my sons interact(ed) with one another in a generally positive and encouraging way. Having Army guys in the house encourages the use of imagination, and spending time together.

Other toys can accomplish two of these three things as well, but there wasn’t a pile of those other toys in the bath tub this morning, so Army guys got the nod.


Post 2: Time

I’m a part of a “Man Club” (my name for it), that meets on the first Monday of every month at my friend’s house.  Our second such gathering just finished an hour ago and I am happy to announce that none of us have cried yet.  We get together, guided by a video and workbook with questions, to discuss matters related to manhood such as parenting, marriage, faith, work, and being the best versions of ourselves.

At one point tonight our discussion turned to practical and concrete ideas for ensuring good relationships with our children both now and into the future.  We were not looking to make a list but our conversation focused on time, honesty, and making sure to tell our children that we love them.   Today’s post will focus on time.

My oldest son received several model airplanes for Christmas this year and because he needs help with activities involving fine motor skills I have been helping him build the first model, a B-17 Bomber which will hang from his bedroom ceiling upon completion.  I don’t have time to fully introduce my oldest son to you in today’s post but I want you to know that Asperger Syndrome does not define him but rather allows him to approach and embrace life from a perspective different than my own.

On the day we first started working on the model plane my oldest son shared with me that working on the model was a good project for father and son bonding time.  Evidently, as it came out in the course of our conversation he was under the impression that things had not been going well between the two of us and we needed this time together as father and son.  While I assured him everything was good between the two of us, I couldn’t agree more that spending time together as father and son was always a great idea.

We work on the model together when time allows.  This involves me and my limited model building skills doing most of the work while my oldest son helps where he can while sharing with me facts and stories about B-17’s.  We have a good time together until the fumes from the paint and glue force us to take a break.

Time with our children is time well spent for several reasons, some of which I will mention here.

1) Our relationships with our children are important and we must spend time nurturing these relationships.  Perhaps as our children grow older a nurtured relationship will keep us close with them.

2) Spending time with our children doing something they enjoy or are interested in shows them we love them.

3) As we spend time with our children we have the opportunity to talk with them.  Not only do we learn more about each other, but opportunities for teaching and learning life lessons also occur.

4) Families are supposed to spend time together.  Parents and children are supposed to spend time together.  In a world of busyness, time spent with our children shows them they are important to us.

Time is important, and since I only have a few minutes to post this to reach my goal of posting something every day of the week except for Sunday, I must finish this brief and perhaps unfinished post.

As parents time spent with our children is time well spent.  I’m still learning this lesson after 14 years of parenting, perhaps you can learn this with me, and even teach me something along the way.