Neurodiversity Awareness/Appreciation

Neurodiversity Awareness/Appreciation

Friday, November 22, 2013

100th Post! Your Questions Answered!

Glitter Graphics Comments Pictures

Hi everyone! Finally, my real 100th post! I said I would answer any questions you may have. I didn't get a whole lot... this makes sense, since I'm pretty open here with everything about myself and what I think. But let me answer the questions I did get!

1. "The blog is do I make such a beautiful looking blog?"

Wow, thanks! I am guessing you mean because of my background, which I like to change for the holidays. I actually made a page describing this, so that I can help other bloggers. Check out "How To Design A Blog Like This!"

2. How old were you when you were diagnosed with Asperger's? 
I was not diagnosed until I was an adult. When I was in high school and was going through a turbulent time, with everyone trying to figure out what was "wrong" with me, my grandmother suggested that I might have autism. Her main reason for suspecting this was because she remembered I had a lot of sensory issues, especially with my hearing, when I was little. But the psychiatrist I was seeing at the time was insistent that I had a psychotic disorder. It wasn't until I was in my 20's that I was diagnosed with Aspergers and ADHD. 

3. Is there advice you'd give your parents about what made you feel crappy as a kid? I read your autism posts and saw that you mention that it's important to teach our kids that we love them exactly as they are but are there other things?

The thing that made me feel bad when I was a kid, and continues even to this day, is when my parents would act embarrassed of me and tell me to act "normal." My dad didn't usually notice that much, but my mom was always telling me to stop talking, stop wiggling, act my age, knock this off, knock that off. She would tell me I looked :retarded" because I was flapping my arms. She would say things like, "No wonder you don't have friends!" She even got my younger brother to do it. So I always had that feeling of shame and ugliness. Eye rolling and saying "Chill, Angel," had a similar effect. As did getting irritated with me when I was overly anxious. I had serious sensory overloads when I was a kid and would just start screaming, and my mom made it worse by yelling at me, or referring me to others, including my similarly-aged brother, as a brat. 
Also try not to argue with your spouse about your kid. I would often hear my parents arguing about me, about what they should be doing with me and what was wrong with me. It made me feel horrible... I wanted to be swallowed up by the walls. If possible, do not speak about your child while your child is in the same house as you. Not even while your child is supposedly asleep. We have sensitive ears that bend around the walls, and if we don't hear what you are saying about us, our nosy siblings will repeat it to us with glee. Take a walk outside, go sit in the car, or even text or email each other. (Emailing may be the best way to have an argument about your child, by the way, because instead of yelling and shouting, you have time to think about what you want to say, and you also have time to read what the other person has to say.)

Another thing that is important as kids get older, and that I am still struggling a lot with to this day? Your kids may always need help with some things. But a lot of parents think it is an all or nothing situation. I had trouble with things like learning to drive, and being in certain social situations, and I needed a lot of help and guidance. But then my mom wanted to, and still tries to, help me with everything, including picking out my clothes and choosing a job and telling me how to handle everyday conversations. If she could dress me up in an outfit of her choosing each day and hand me a script of everything to say and do for the day, she probably would, even now... but if I didn't want to accept her help with everything, she would try to back out of helping me with anything
Although I am sure it is super, super hard, let your older kids and young adults be the guides of what they still need. If they feel strongly about wanting to do something independently, and it is relatively safe, let them. Examples of safe risks would be applying for a job you think they'd have a hard time doing, wearing an outfit you think people will make fun of them for, or trying to befriend someone you think isn't right for them. Let them try. They might surprise you with how successful they are. If not, remember that making mistakes is a normal part of growing up and being independent, and they deserve to have these experiences in their lives just as their typically developing siblings do. 
On the other hand, if they seem to want more help in guidance in some areas, try to be there for them. This could mean helping them write a script for what they should say when they order pizza over the phone (I hate doing that) or going with them to set up a bank account. A lot of times when I have to do something with a lot of talking involved, I get nervous and I want someone along with me to "translate." 

4. "What are some things NOT to say to someone with ADHD, autism etc, or things not to say to their parents?"

That's a good question! 
One time not long ago, a Facebook acquaintance of mine published on his wall something along the lines of, "I think ADHD, autism, depression, anxiety and other mental conditions are just excuses made by weak and lazy people who do not want to work as hard as the rest of us." While it is true that he has the right to put whatever he wants on his Facebook wall, and I guess it is ballsy of him to publicly announce such a strong opinion about a controversial topic... and while I really don't value that person's opinion enough for it to hurt my feelings much... it could go to the top of my list of things NOT to say to me! People with any of these, and many other, conditions, are anything but weak. If anything, they are sre super-strong, from having to fight an ongoing battle every day just to get normal stuff accomplished. The same goes for parents of children with these conditions. Don't accuse them of being bad, lazy or permissive parents, because most have to put a lot of extra work into parenting. 
Another thing... the decision on whether to take medication is a very personal one. When it comes to taking medication that effects the way our brains work, many people get a little nervous! We're afraid it will change who we, or our children, are, or how we think. Each individual or family needs to decide for themselves whether medication is an option. One person may decide that medication is the best thing for them. Another may try to manage their condition by taking supplements, getting behavioral therapy, doing exercise and yoga, trying alternative treatments, or something else. People may go back and forth throughout their lives, deciding to go off medicine for a while and try something else, and then getting back on it. I get upset when I hear about people pressuring someone to take, or not take, medicine. Or one parent accusing another parent of child abuse because they medicate, or don't medicate, their child. 
To me, asking questions is always okay, if they come from curiosity and not accusation. There is a difference between, "I haven't heard of that type of treatment before... how does it work?" and "Don't you think that's sort of new-agey? Why would you fall for that?" 
5. "I really don't know what to ask you..I just enjoy reading your blog."
Thanks! I enjoy having you as a reader!

That's it for today! It's been a great 100 posts, and I'm looking forward to hundreds more! 


  1. Angel, your answers are so insightful. I really identified with the part about having a script for ordering pizza by phone and stuff like that, or having a "translator." I have done those very things for Nigel, mostly because I thought it would be helpful for him. It's good to know that I was on the right track!

  2. Hi Angel,
    You have an awesome blog! You are such a good writer too! Your answer to question #3 makes me so sad. I'm sorry things were so hard for you as a kid. I hope they have gotten better over the years. I think every parent should read what you have written. Maybe it would help us see things from our children's point of view.
    I'm so glad I stopped by. I will be reading more of your posts!!!

  3. I love that you give such direct and truthful answers. And yes, you do have a very pretty blog. This is a great blog for anyone or knows anyone that is struggling with ADHD. You write it beautifully....

  4. Angel,
    Thank you for the best advice on parenting, ever!!!! I think all parents who have kids with issues need to read this!! I really appreciate your advice on letting kids try when they want to, not helping them when they don't want help and especially that it would hurt my son's feelings to tell him to act normal. I hope I would never do that but I'm glad for your perspective. The idea for emailing my husband when talking about what to do for my son is brilliant. You rock!!!

  5. Thanks so much for answering my question about what not to ask the people diagnosed or their parents! It was helpful :)


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