Parenting Outside the Box

Article By:  Jill Jones
Article Date:  09/01/2010
Everyone gives birth to a perfect child—even a child born on the Autism Spectrum. I am the parent of a child with Asperger’s Syndrome. As a result, I parent outside the box of normal. I anticipate rather than react (or at least I try). Rather than being spontaneous, I plan and prepare. I struggle with organization, but with an Aspie (an affectionate term) it is almost impossible to live outside of being organized.Â

Even though she did not receive a diagnosis until she was 12, I knew that she was “different”, but I had no idea these differences were anything more than a unique personality trait. I still believe Asperger’s is what makes her stand out from everyone else and is a big part of who she is.

She sees the world differently than typical children but seeing the world through her eyes has made it come alive again. She struggles with change and loves structure. She likes doing the same thing every day and knowing what to expect ahead of time. She is obsessed with music and drama—from watching and listening to it to singing and acting herself. She struggles with school and relationships but nothing is as difficult as just living in a world so different from the one she thinks she lives in.

Not once have I ever sought a cure or prayed for a change. At times I would like to modify her reactions to negative events. I want to teach her how to deal with the confusing life that’s going on around her. There are especially times when I would like to lecture the people that tease her and do things to make her over-react, but that would only make matters worse.Â

As a parent living outside the box, I’ve learned not to make excuses for her behavior or apologize for it. The stares I get from other people no longer phase me. I don’t care that they think my child is a spoiled, obnoxious brat or that I’m a lousy parent.Â

If you are a parent living outside the box, forget about what others think about your children and your parenting skills. Love your children the way they are and create an atmosphere that allows them to be who they are, not what the world says they should be. Forget about the world’s definition of perfection and create your own. Perfection, after all, is a process which we strive for but never attain completely. We are parents of unique children who deserve to be treated fairly, with respect and compassion. Typical children are not better, just different. Once the world realizes the contibutions our children can and will make to society, they will envy the gift we were given at the birth of our special children.

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