As for me, the Mom of the house, I grew up in church. I went to every activity. I spent more time at church than I did at home. I was allowed only to go out with church friends. For many years I dated only church boys and I volunteered for church only activities. I knew all the pastors, their kids and their wives; I was there- A LOT. I learned about churches who was there for what reason and if they were there because they believed in God or were told they did.
Not so my son, he had gone to many different churches; he has had acquaintances. Three years ago he told people he is a Christian but he does question his faith. ("God has punished me because I have Aspergers. I didn't do anything to God why is He punishing me?")
His current youth leader is a nice guy. His wife is very sweet and very patient (I admire her a lot). The boy is trying to learn about God and why God does what He does and how it works in life. I don’t know if either of them can answer his questions. It seems like they can and are willing to help the boy with questions the cuter half and I cannot answer.
The boy doesn’t hang out or socialize with believers other than those I am aware of).
Now, in the believer’s defense; it isn’t like the cuter one and I are terribly outgoing. We are pretty laid back most of the time and rushing up and saying “Hi” to us is always appreciated but it is doubtful we would be able to do it on our own. Because of this social butterfly lack on the boy's parents part (schmoozing ain't our thing): currently, the boy hangs out with more non-Christians at school, on weekends, at work. Everyone likes him (or at least that is what they tell us). Many gens like him (from what we hear), but not enough to hang out with him. I only know of one gen that is willing to be his friend, and spend time with him at home. this person has made a HUGE effort to get alone with the cuter half and I and become part of the family....
Why does it seem like kids who are believers are less likely to accept people for who and what they are? We noticed this MORE at our old church than recently, but it is still hard for the boy to go out to activities, we usually are standing at the front door of the house trying to talk him into going. Once he gets there he is fine; but then he comes home and is trying to figure it all out....he doesn't grasp the obscurity in religion.
His problem naturally, but the Bible is not something that is tangible to him. His belief that God has punished him because he has Aspergers is something hard for us to overcome. Maybe it is the lack of acceptance in himself that makes it more difficult for people to accept him. He is struggling to accept the Aspergers and some of the reactions that he has and with that it is making it harder for him to understand that what he does reflects on himself. Ergo, he doesn't have the desire to go out like he did.
Growing up as I did, this is unfathomable to me. As the mom of the house, and at one point the religious person; I was taught that it didn’t matter if you were purple with pink polka dots, green stripes with orange hair or had piercings all over your head; you were still a person and worthy of respect. My mind struggles to wrap itself around this acceptance of others topic; especially with him.
Seriously, how far do we go, what do we do and where does it end? We cannot expect gen people to accept a kid when the kid is struggling to accept himself. I pray, the cuter one prays and yet most of the time the boy is treated BETTER by those kids with little or no religious training than by the others at the prior place we used to go. At this point, the boy doesn't know what to do, his religious training has been (prior to 2 years ago), well, unusual to say the least. Now, this is NOT on what we did here in this house but other places where the exposure was a tad unusual. Fotunaelty the lovely youth couple we know now are trying to get this stuff figured out with him and answer his tougher questions....thankfully they both have theological training.
As a parent of an Aspie, I don’t understand this thought process that he believes he is punished by God at all- the boy's viewpoints on this part are different; this thing that he believes that God punishes him because he has Aspergers. He is so young and doesn't realize that the difference is a good thing (it is MORE than the purple hair I had in college) and he can use it for positive experiences. I know that he is trying hard to fit in and is kind of like the square peg in the round hole. The "Left of Center" by Suzane Vega comes to mind (besides being a favorite song). Heaven knows how often I related to the square peg analogy (Please...I am the square peg, who are we fooling?)
God chose us, gave us this child to train, teach; pray for. Yet the boy believes he gets more from a non-believing environment. Some of his choices have not been the best and although we try to encourage him events from that other church place then last summer certainly haven't helped us.
Being around a VERBAL Aspie is NOT easy. It isn’t a picnic in the park.
But it is a lot of other wonderful things that MOST kids and their friends will never have exposure to.
What it is: - a learning experience. A coach one told a group about working with our son, “He makes us better coaches because he MAKES us coach him.” The boy asks questions and expects good answers. He won’t accept, “Because I said so” as a reasonable response. It takes a lot of “splainin’” to get the boy to understand something as incomprehensible as how to be a friend and not smother someone to pieces.
Understandably, most gen kids won’t even give him a chance either because they look at him like he is a freak (the boy’s words not mine) or because they don’t understand the smothering or the enthusiasm he has for people who want to hang out with him and get to know him better….too bad because they could have a friend that wouldn’t compete with them, wouldn’t judge them and would defend them. Hey, he might even be able to help you with your history homework. All you have to do is ask. (His one friend did, and that person discovered that when you get under the Aspie bits, there is a valuable person to know).
Kids like ours can be the MOST loyal, most reliable, most trusted leaders of any given group. Instead, most of the time, they are pushed aside, bored and feeling left out. Our son is now turning to (potentially) non-believing friends who are nice to him, pay attention to him, and most of all want to be with him and find him to be valuable to know (not just with the homework). Like most kids, Aspies want to be accepted for who and what they are.
For our son, at least for right now, he is not finding that acceptance within himself. Tolerance, yes, acceptance- he tells me he is not feeling it and hasn’t felt it in a social environment since middle school. I don't really understand WHAT exactly he is looking for but I am thinking he is looking for a group of gens that automatically understands Aspergers; there he is going to be disappointed. As he puts it, “The staff accepts me, but the kids ignore me. It is like I am not even there.” That perception, on his part is hard to ignore.
Honestly, since the summer incident and the religion thing now almost 3 years ago, he is finding it difficult to be with gens. He is less willing to go out and is very protective about pictures or anything that could be posted on FB or online. For example, last summer, I wanted to take a picture of him in his internship uniform. He wouldn't allow it- except for one unsmiling surly picture that I won't share because it looks like I put him to the rack.
Unfortunately, I have a feeling he is going to be removing himself from some social groups as an adult because he isn’t perceiving it as a viable environment for him. As he gets older, although it is harder, the cuter one and I have to accept his choices. We will be discussing this issue for some time and him leaving is not going to be without a TON of family talking. However, it appears that a change is gonna happen and there isn’t much I can say to him about it. Except it is debatable that he will decide to go out to more gen places as an adult.
I don't like that he is contemplating closing himself off. Limiting himself to new experiences, places and things. That scares me.
Don Williams said it well, and maybe you remember this song from the 80's. We all need to believe in something and although it is hard to watch I know the boy is being guided. I would rather jump in and fix it all like your typical youngest would....and I can't. Sometimes you just can't fix it. All you can do is watch.
I know when I heard this song today it flooded me with good memories: of singing with my cousins, and watching the stars in the sky and walking down the roads at my Aunt's farm.....just chillin' out and drinking some funky juice stuff that she got from a vendor on the road....putting up the little wooden nativity....
Accepting that I can't fix my son's thoughts, perceptions and having to work with him and what he has and will be able to do.
I Believe in Love- Don Williams
I don't believe in superstars
Organic food and foreign cars
I don't believe the price of gold
The certainty of growing old
That right is right and left is wrong
That north and south can't get along
That east is east and west is west
And bein' first is always best.
Well, I dont believe that heaven waits
For only those who congregate
I'd like to think of God as love
He's down below
He's up above
He's watchin' people everywhere
He knows who does and doesn't care
And I'm an ordinary man
Sometimes I wonder who I am.
I dont believe virginity
Is as common as it used be
In workin' days and sleepin' nights
That black is black and white is white
That Superman and Robinhood
Are still alive in Hollywood
That gasoline's in short supply
The risin' cost of gettin' by
But I believe in love
I believe in old folks
I believe in children
I believe in you.
I believe in love
I believe in babies
I believe in mom and dad
And I believe in you.