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Living with an Aspie Child – a Grandmother’s View

in Blog on August 2, 2008

I know that most of you come here to learn about sewing related things or to download my free designs. And I am so glad you come. Would you allow me tonight to talk to you just a little about my precious grandson, Siddiq? He and I have had a rough week and I think I have learned some things that might be of help to some of you, too, I hope.

You see, Siddiq has Asperger’s – a high-functioning form of autism. He struggles with a mind that gets overstimulated by everyday occurrences and has little emotional resources to cope with the stresses of daily living. As a result, he has “Aspie meltdowns”. Sometimes we can see a meltdown coming and can manipulate the environment in a way that the outburst is less likely to occur. Sometimes we are too busy to notice. This week, I was too busy taking care of his younger sisters, my home, our daughter’s home etc. and didn’t see it come. He got so frustrated and angry and overwhelmed that he grabbed a tripod and smashed it into the glass door on our rather expensive entertainment center. My verbal responses were not what I had hoped they would be and I know the Lord wasn’t pleased either. After I let go of my upset, I just broke down and cried, and then I cried some more. I wanted to go and resign somewhere. Isn’t there a book with the title “Where can I go to resign as a mother?” – well, make that grandma. I am ashamed to admit, I didn’t want to be his grandma anymore. I felt hurt emotionally, terrified that he might have hurt his sisters, if they had just been a little closer, upset that yet one more piece of my house had been destroyed by him and his anger. But frustration was my overwhelming feeling as well. It certainly brought me to my knees before the Lord. I prayed that the Lord would give me wisdom to understand this child, a love that would be greater than my material belongings all put together. And the Lord did just that. After a good night’s sleep, I felt a sense of peace from the Lord and a deep compassion for our grandson. Then I began to read a book that Siddiq’s Mom had left out for me to read: “Parenting Your Asperger Child” by Alan Sohn. I am not done with reading the book, but it has already created an awareness in me that our grandson has a far worse situation than either we, his grandparents, or his Mom face. He lives in constant anxiety and any change or unpredicted happening sets him off course. The book gives very practical hints on individualized solutions for teaching your child practical coping skills. I am determined to finish this book soon.

One of the things that my daughter has instituted right away, is providing more structure. Siddiq is almost 8 and he is used to the structure of school. That of course is missing during summer break. I am a 61 yr old grandma who is trying to manage taking care of three little children while their Mom works as a nurse. I am not a very structured person, rather, I like to do things “on the spur of the moment” and feel rather “caged in” when I am tied down to a schedule. But I am realizing that to help Siddiq I must provide structure for his day. His Mom has made up cards that get placed on the front of a kitchen appliance door that tell Siddiq what time it is, not in hours and minutes, but in activity. So, we have breakfast, lunch, supper cards (with pictures depicting the activity), free time, play outside, crafts time etc. cards and somehow he really likes that. We also have started a rewards card – stickers get placed on there for good behaviors and with a certain number of stickers he gets a prize, with even more stickers he gets a date out with Mom. It really has made a difference in the last couple of days and I hope it will stay that way.

I don’t want you to think that Siddiq is nothing but a keg of dynamite ready to explode any time. We share many special moments – he loves animals, flowers, science – oh how he loves anything science related! and he is so bright and often generous. And he is forever dreaming up tomorrow’s latest invention. Someday, I am sure he will invent something important and we’ll all be happy to have been a part of his life and his upbringing. Until then, we need lots of prayer, guidance through good books, and people who understand that not all children who act out are just “misbehaved” and poorly disciplined at home. Thanks for letting me share my joy and my pain of this last week.

Categories: Blog


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