I hear raising teens is hard. I hear raising an Aspie teen can be harder. Ann Boushéy, author of Talking Teenagers: Information and Inspiration for Parents of Teenagers with Autism or Asperger’s Syndrome, carefully navigates the parenting struggles of raising a teen on the Spectrum. She shares her experience of checking in with experts (e.g., middle school counselor) regarding “typical teen behaviors” and Aspie behaviors, dealing with now and planning for the future. Ends up Aspie teens are TEENS, and that developmental stage is not one you get to skip!!
Boushéy writes with a sense of humor. She describes the struggles you will recognize from raising your own Aspie (bullying at school, IEP meetings) and highlights the successes her son experienced. Of particular note, she describes birthday parties, variations of birthday parties, skipping birthday parties, and a birthday party at her house when her son escaped to his room for respite, and later returned to the party (success!).
I particularly liked Boushéy’s description of her understandable and genuine reaction to ongoing bullying at school. As parents do, Boushéy attempted to understand the situation from all sides, attempted to get her son to use his skills to solve the problem, and then insisted to the school that her son was telling the truth. So she lost her cool. She took responsibility for her reactions and choices, and then when the truth came out, expected the school to do the same. I’ll let you guess how the school handled their end of that interaction J
Bravely, Boushéy writes about difficult topics, including religion, God, sex, masturbation, and planning for the future (um, not all in one chapter!!). She even interviewed an attorney regarding guardianship and conservatorship, including partial guardianship. She repeatedly notes that parents are thinking about these things (puberty, online porn, dating, the future), but in an isolated fashion. She opens up the topic for consideration and discussion, and tends not to choose a side.
This is a great book for providing reassurance that you are not alone, and you are not crazy. Just last week a parent said to me, “I’m pretty sure I’m crazy or almost there!” Nope, not crazy. Just dealing with the ever present challenges of raising a teen with a very different take on the world, a perspective that will likely change the world some day, but for now is struggling with school, organization, dating (or not dating!), and really wanting to be understood. You got this!
If you would like assistance raising your Aspie (or being understood as an Aspie), contact me!