Aspergers is not always a BAD thing…you have strengths and they can be really an advantage in lots of ways.

Asperger’s Children are not born with great motor skills!

  • but that you can work at by getting him access to weight bearing exercise
  • we bought yoga ball, climbing frame, a trampoline – with  strong surround.
  • we paved an area at the side of the house and have nets there for football, and basketball
  • we enrolled him for 1-2-1 tennis lessons – NOT to be Rafa Nadal, but to develop hand eye co-ordination.
  • we got swimming lessons, as one of the serious problems was  Fionn’s total lack of awareness of safety and danger. He always felt he could swim, and now that he has learned he is strangely more natural and relaxed in water than on land!
  • the tennis skills developed, but during round robin competitions he had no competitive inkling,  and the day a wee girl fiddled the match score which he won…that was the end of that! He crumbled as a player…allowed her to fiddle the score..and said nothing!
  • we have a family connection who is an adult who has aspergers. But this young man is alone. He is hugely capable, but socially co incapable. And for years when he could have been learning to mix, he was being protected.  That is instinctive- your son doesn’t want to mix, he is different, he will come out with the wrong thing, may get laughed at…its not a right way and a wrong way.
  • we always wanted independence for our son. ..the chance to integrate as fully as possible in a mainstream society – and we KNEW that was not naturally his default setting.
  • We wanted to give him The ability to have a reasonably independent job, life, partner. So far the decisions we have made have been challenging at times for both ourselves and him.
    • he walks home from school
    • he walks to the shop with friends
    • he is integrated in mainstream clubs
    • he is exposed to as many different settings as we can
    • he can cook
    • he can go make tea for visitors….
  • so far so good!
  • but there were a LOT of choices.
  • The first to me really wasn’t a choice…your child is different – NOT stupid. so when he wants to know why he did something strange, you tell him why….he is wired differently! He might do things in a different way to everyone else, but he does them! He really thinks of it as no more  disability than having brown eyes…it is HIS difference…and as he will tell you- everyone is different somehow!
  • school is another choice. Special setting, Autism unit or mainstream? We chose mainstream – knowing would not be as easy for Fionn but prepared to help as his outcome would be more integrated in normal full society if he managed mainstream.
  • It threw up challenges along the way, but they were learning challenges…the main issue to us was social ability….rather his inbuilt SOCIAL inability!
  • We reasoned with him from an early age. He has a much older brother and sister….and we would ask him what his vision o HIM as a teenager was, and he would blankly comment “to be able to go out with my friends”..so he’d KNOW then that the only option was to learn HOW to manage people. This is ongoing. But it is for all of us -at some level.
  • so he would be allowed read or play on his own for a wee while, then NOW out you go…we did get “FINE!” with attitude, but within short time loved it.
  • his other brothers all played soccer, so it was a constant kick around in our garden, and when was time for the youngest to join the soccer club, we enrolled both. This was a hard lesson for us. He was socially out of his depth. He stood out, NOT because his skills were poor, but because he was so socially immature and was ostracised. He knew it and we did. so we agreed to stop it.
  • but he still loved ball playing in school and at home. In school now had learned to mix very well. So 4 yrs ago, HE came to us and said he wanted to try soccer again, but with a different club. We were very anxious..but he was very determined, and told us he understood himself and other people much better now, and really wanted to try – and his best friend went there. It was a much less structured club….and it just worked! It was completely different experience. The other children are from all schools in town, but all have fully accepted him,  and they as a group have great craic. He is so comfortable there!
  • Gaelic was a toughie. Our oldest son plays gaelic. So it was part of our weekend family days out…but there was a hell of a lot of contact at gaelic. Like rugby, you do NOT hold back!. He started gaelic in school with his “comfort zone” of friends. So his skills were ok. But when they all were of an age to join the town club, we worried -BUT we signed him up.
  • as we had imagined there were teething problems…..which were PAINFUL for him…and for us. To watch your child struggle socially, then talk him round, straighten him up and send him to the SAME situation, is not a form of cruelty …but there were days it felt cruel...as we watched from a distance.
  • He felt so offended if anyone raised voice to him. was clearly nervous, biting his cuff, or his bib…but we worked through them all! There were chats. He felt he needed a few of the locals who were NOT in his class to understand why he might have had a minor melt down.
  • We had great support from the Principal. He – under Fionn’s instruction, gave a few fellas – a few hand selected by F, to  understand how he may seem different and why.
  • That made him feel so much more secure!
  • He was chosen, and deserved to be chosen, for the school soccer and gaelic teams – a group chosen out of 3 classes! And loved taking part!
  • the soccer team won 2012 Northern Ireland Primary Schools Cup!
  • on one of the days, he was put into goals at gaelic…and we wondered why we hadn’t thought of THAT before. An Asperger’s child has a dangerously HIGH pain threshold, and little fear, or sense of danger – and so will thow themselves in any shape at a ball. Also relative to playing outfield, there is little contact. He loves it!
  • Last night he was awarded the gaelic team’s most improved player of the  under 12 season!

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so NEVER doubt your child can play team sports…just help them be the best they can. Challenge them….and be prepared for them challenging you too!

H

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