Note: This post in a response to an article entitled “Parents With Asperger Syndrome” by Mark Hutten, which can be found here.
“Many children of Aspergers parents report that they developed severe self-esteem problems because their mother or father could not give them the warmth, empathy and caring they needed growing up.”
It is five years after he was diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome, and my husband is about to become a father. The doctor places the baby on my chest, and he is right beside me, punch-drunk dazed with love. The next day, our son is put into the special care nursery with a minor condition belied by the IV line in his tiny foot and he is there holding him long into the night, just watching him sleep. We bring our baby home and as the little boy grows his daddy cuddles him skin-to-skin and wears him against his body in a carrier. When he is fussy he walks the floor with him until his back aches and then keeps on going. He picks him up whenever he cries because the thought of a little child crying alone is more than he can stand.
Now our baby boy has become a toddler and he is crying because he’s bumped his head and daddy is wrapping his arms against him and rubbing his head to make it feel better. He has just come home from work and is holding his arms out as wide as they will go as his little boy runs to him from across the room. He cuddles him close as he reads him the same bedtime story five times in a row.
“Taking ToM into consideration, one can see that moms and dads with full blown Aspergers would have enormous problems conceptualizing and understanding the nature of and the context of the thoughts and feelings of those they are parenting.”
Our son is frustrated. He cannot make his toys work the way he wants them too. His father knows just how he feels. “It’s ok,” he reassures him. “Do you need some help?” He shows him a trick to make it work and his little boy is content again.
We are at the children’s library and the play area is noisy with kids and their parents. Our son hesitates. His daddy puts his arm around him and waits. Reassured, he goes to play.
We are going for a walk and it’s time to go home and our toddler is determined to keep on going. Daddy kneels beside him and talks to him in a calm, steady voice. “I understand,” he tells him. “I know you’re having fun, but it’s time to go”. The boy takes his hand and they walk home.
“When autistic obsessive behavior and or preservations are added to the problems posed above, moms and dads with Aspergers will find it overtly difficult to put their youngster’s needs first.”
My husband has had a long day at work and sits down at the computer for the only time to himself he’s had all day, when our son toddles up to him with a book. He stops what he’s doing to smile at him and they sit on the couch and read together. They play together on the floor until it’s time for our son to go to bed.
Our daughter is born and he is taking paternity leave to care for his babies. Even while on leave he takes so little time for himself that his projects and hobbies get put on hold for months. He tells me he does not ever want his family to come second to anything.
Characteristics of an Aspergers Parent
Our little boy is being daddy’s helper and they’re having so much fun that no one notices the mess. We are at the table for supper and a cup of water is spilled when those chubby little hands slip and daddy is there to reassure him that it’s ok.
It’s bedtime and our wild little toddler is jumping up and down on the bed to music and his father bursts out laughing. Now he’s running around the house to music with a box on his head and it’s all laughter and happy chaos. It’s a beautiful summer evening and we’re going out for ice cream just because.
We are getting ready to go to an appointment, and our toddler has been fighting us every step of the way. Daddy makes him laugh, and he sticks out his feet to let us put his shoes on. He dumps his milk on the floor, and his father is gentle but firm. He doesn’t raise his voice.
He tells me about how for years he was the target of abuse and bullying. He is determined that it won’t happen to his children. The cycle is ending with him.
It’s evening, and we are all sitting together, our son playing contentedly with his toys and our daughter smiling with her whole face the way only babies can. He is filled with love.