If you are a parent and you are reading this, how does your child (or children) respond when you take away one of their prized possessions as a form of punishment? How about when they fall and hurt themselves? If you are the parent of a child without Asperger’s, you are probably thinking right now that they get upset for a while and get over it (taking something away), and shed a reasonably-expected amount of tears (hurt themselves).
What we struggle (maybe not the right word) with is Kaitlyn’s responses to those types of situations. It becomes especially fun when we are out in public, or have family around.
For example, right now Kaitlyn just absolutely loves to play her Disney Princess game on the Wii. Let’s say that she does something to warrant us taking it away, maybe gets in trouble at camp (has not happened, so you can put the phone down mom) or absolutely refuses to clean up her toys. Taking away the game for a day or two would be appropriate punishment in my book. But to Kaitlyn, you would think that it is the end of the world, and she will literally cry for hours. And if there is family around and she gets herself in a little bit of trouble, she will make sure to play it up big time to get the all important sympathy vote from whoever is around (usually a grandparent that takes the opportunity to silently, or loudly depending on the grandparent, disapprove of our handling of the situation. It is like our parents never disciplined us, but I recall several times doing something that left me with a sore backside).
And then there is the best example I can think of of an inappropriate response to getting hurt: a few years back (2 maybe), my brother, dad, and nephew came up for the weekend to visit. We decided to go out for dinner at a local Mexican restaurant, El Jalisco. As we were walking in, I was holding Kaitlyn’s hand, and Amber was in front of us. My brother was walking behind us, and Kaitlyn was looking back at him…and POW!, she turns around just in time to smack her head on the concrete wall, the corner to be specific. Needless to say we all sort of panicked and she got a nice welt on her forehead (which caused us to push back family pictures about a week or so). She cried for maybe a minute and was good to go.
Those are just a few of the many examples we could share about times where we have been perplexed about Kaitlyn’s response to a situation. Just tonight she got herself all worked up and upset because we didn’t go to Chick-fil-A for dinner, and went to Steak ‘n Shake instead.
Almost everything I read about people with Asperger’s notes that having inappropriate responses to things is part of the diagnosis. It is something in the wiring in the brain that has them over- or under-react to a situation. What you or I may see as something minor, an Aspie may view as the end of the world, and vice versa on things we see as major situations they will think it is no big deal. Needless to say, the guessing we do on a situation-by-situation basis helps contribute to every day taking every last ounce of energy out of Amber and I. It is just one of the many things we are still learning about Asperger’s and about Kaitlyn.