Grateful for Grace has a very good post today about what Asperger's can look like to other people and giving grace to parents when what Asperger's looks like is poor parenting.
I can so relate to this post because, before we knew that Tyler had Asperger's, I thought I was the worst parent ever. And I felt like everyone else thought so, too.
Why does that child get away with acting like that? Why doesn't the parent discipline him?
It wasn't until we found out that Tyler had Asperger's, and then got the message out to our friends and relatives that I was able to let go of some of those feelings and give grace to myself and receive it from others.
I get tears in my eyes thinking about how our church family (the people we spend the most amount of time with) have come to love Tyler for who he is. Here are just a couple of things that come to mind that have happened recently:
- Tyler likes to hang out by the coffee shop after church. The Sister in charge has been so kind to him, allowing him to stay around instead of running him off. One time she even had him go around selling brownies, then gave him one as a "thank you". Then she came to check with me that it was okay for him to eat it. I think this is a safe place for Tyler to be, so I'm grateful that they put up with him.
- Tyler can get antsy during church. One good way to help him be calm and still is to massage his neck. I can't do this for a long period of time, though, as my hands start to hurt, or, more likely, get busy with the other boys, or with worship. One time I was standing up, worshiping, and I looked down to see a Brother massaging Tyler's neck and shoulder for him. (I should note that not everyone would get away with this. This man is someone that we trust and who has taken the time to earn Tyler's trust.)
- We are a very friendly church and Pastor has us greet people at least once a service. Tyler hates it. One Sister turned around to shake his hand and Tyler flinched away (with a little smile, I might add!). She tried to shake Justin's hand and he just stared at her. I said "I'm sorry, my children are anti-social!" She just laughed and said "Hey, I have Tyler in Sunday School, remember?"
More and more people are helping us find the new normal, reaching out and loving in a new way when the typical way doesn't seem to be working. We even have people at church who have told us that they like sitting around us, that they love our family so much, that we remind them of when they were young with small children (and we are pretty distracting , so this is a huge compliment!)
Yes, we still have issues, mostly from the younger crowd who just see someone different. And I guess I should confess that I still feel like a complete failure at least once a day. But, giving grace helps.