Let It Ride

doing things differently From: Happie Aspies

I was reminded today, as I am very often, that life for Wolfie must feel like one correction after another. A pile-on of reminders that he is doing things differently, and not in a good way.

“Hey buddy, can you look at me for a second?” I asked him this while we were waiting in line for the Scooby Doo ride at Six Flags. He gave me no response. I asked him again to look at me. He yelled at me to get away from him. I tried and tried to keep my voice quiet and let him know that he wasn’t in trouble and that I wasn’t angry with him.

I was painfully aware that he was standing too close to the woman in front of us. She and her family kept looking back at him and then at me because he was standing in their family space, totally unaware. For me, this was hard to watch and not want to interject my own feelings about the situation. On the one hand, I wanted to let him alone. He wasn’t hurting anyone. But, I could tell that the woman was uncomfortable. At least I think she was.

This is just one of many examples of how his limited social awareness creates discomfort for those around him and then for himself. It’s like a vicious cycle. He does something out of the ordinary, people notice, we try to help him to be more conventional, he becomes angry, he becomes sad, we talk it out,and then he’s happy and loving. Repeat.

I am juggling a lot of feelings here. I am sad for him because I hate to see him in pain and his life is painful right now. He feels let down by society and I get why. We are asking him to do things that don’t feel right to him and he has no real reason to comply because none of it makes sense to him. Why should that lady care that he is standing a half an inch away from her body?

I am happy for him because I adore who he is and get the biggest kick out of his quirky imagination. He is genuinely loving and so sweet. He makes everyone around him smile because of his unique way. He draws people in and that’s good.

I am afraid for him because he is angry. When I ask him why he is so angry he says it’s because he’s tired of being wrong. When I ask him why he becomes violent he says so he can have power.

He has some pretty sophisticated ideas about the world and yet, there is so much he doesn’t understand. This fact alone, makes things complicated.

He had an enormous meltdown in the parking lot of Six Flags as we were leaving. It was a response to all the stimuli he encountered while we were at the park and he was clearly overwhelmed. By the time I saw that it was coming there was no way to diffuse it. We had to ride it out and it was no fun at all. We were hot and sweaty to begin with and the giant explosion of emotion made it feel ten thousand degrees hotter.

It occurs to me as I write this that Wolfie’s meltdowns are not unlike the release a person feels from riding a thrill ride. You scream and scream, and you are frightened and exhilarated and there is a huge array of emotion. After the ride, there is this sense of calm and newness almost. It’s like when you have been riding on a boat or an airplane for a long time and then you have to walk a straight line. You know you can do it, but your body keeps feeling the motion of the boat or plane. Eventually things even out and you don’t walk crooked and things go back to normal.

As we pulled into the closest drive thru I felt relieved and very blessed to have the sisters that I do. They handled the days events with a great attitude, even though it was challenging at times, and I never felt  judged by them. So, my sis who was driving ordered five enormous ice waters, some fries and a few sandwiches and all was well for the drive home.

I sat next to him in the back seat and was struck by how quickly he recovered. He just kept commenting on how nice the ice water tasted and how much he loved the french fries in his now hoarse voice. It was as though nothing had happened. He was himself, happy again and I wouldn’t want it any other way.

Stephanie Stewart
I don’t have asperger’s syndrome, but I am married to a man who does and we have two wonderful little boys. Our oldest son, Wolfie, is seven and has asperger’s syndrome.
Stephanie Stewart


I don’t have asperger’s syndrome, but I am married to a man who does and we have two wonderful little boys. Our oldest son, Wolfie, is seven and has asperger’s syndrome.

0 thoughts on “Let It Ride

  • August 11, 2009 at 12:02 am

    @keystspf@xanga – Wow. Sometimes I feel like such a bad parent because I sometimes yell at Wolfie when he is yelling at me. I mean really yell. It feels so childish, but I sometimes can’t help that I feel so out of control and completely powerless to change anything. In those moments,I feel like a hypocrite because I am trying to teach anger management and acceptable ways of handling anger and I am yelling. Oh well. We are all only human. I am glad to say that those are not the majority of times.

    It sounds like you have wonderful relationship with your son and that you do a great job managing the differences that your husband and your son have. I know that must be hard to do. You love them both and can probably identify in more than one way with where each of them are coming from. It isn’t always easy to reconcile what was acceptable coming from me growing up with what I am getting from Wolfie as I parent him. It is very easy to lose sight of the fact that he has Asperger’s and isn’t trying to be disrespectful neccesarily. He just doesn’t get it.

    @littleprofessor@xanga – I think your comment is very much the dialogue that goes on in Wolfie’s head. Probably watered down a lot because of his age. When I ask him why he isn’t violent at school he says, “Oh, I would never do that there!”  I’m not saying that he is making a conscious choice, but rather, feels like he has the freedom to test some of the boundries here at home that he knows won’t bend at school. I hope it stays that way until he figures out some of the social rules. I would much rather see him freak out at home than at school.

  • August 10, 2009 at 3:55 pm

    @keystspf@xanga – I still believe in hard, fast rules.  I just have complicated my analysis with a view of hierarchy of authorities.  Thus, you may have an ultimate authority, say God, and then lesser authorities, say the Government, the amusement park operators, and Wolfie’s parents.  Lesser authorities cannot break any rules of greater authorities.  Lesser authorities may have some overlap or underlap in their control.  But authorities cannot supersede their rights or realms (i.e., the Bill of Rights limits the role of government and protects the roles of citizens, states, etc.)  In the end there is a complex tapestry of rules and relationships but all of their legitimate orders ultimately must be followed.  Note: just as state or local laws which contradict just federal laws are automatically nullified, their is a parallel for other laws.  So, for instance, if parents were to tell a kid to fatally jump off a bridge he should not listen to them because they do not have the authority to give him this order.  (They do not have the right to order him to do this, so he has no responsibility to listen to it.  This law is void, it has no legality behind it, if you will, and is no real law at all.)  Thus, if a rule is given by a competent authority acting within their authority (and hence not violating any higher authorities) then it is always the right thing to follow such an order.  In other words, I still view things as black and white, but kind of like a tangled up mess of black and white spaghetti.  Philosophically speaking it’s clear what’s what, but practically it’s really difficult disentangling it.

    Another great post by aspiemama: both clearly written and compassionately viewing the complexity of dealing with differing expectations.

  • August 10, 2009 at 3:01 pm

    My mom and I had that same kind of cycle. Tension would build and build about who knows what and then we’d be screaming at each other for a few hours sometimes, and then it would go back to “everything’s ok.” It was a rough ride, but sometimes the only way to get rid of the tension, regardless of what caused it, was a good screaming match.

    I wish though that we had learned better ways to handle it, since a lot of mean things got said that neither of us truly meant, but still hurt even now, years later. Thing is, I think Mom needed them as much as I did. Neither one of us had good stress management skills. I think I handle things with my son a bit better.

    Josh and his dad (my husband, John) don’t always see eye to eye. Josh doesn’t understand how his tone sometimes comes off as extremely disrespectful. John comes from a home where that tone was not at all tolerated. Me too, but at least now I understand that some “grown ups” just do not tolerate being questioned. So, I’ve made it safe for Josh to ask me, “What did I do?” and will answer him to the best of my ability. I don’t care how the question comes out, it is safe for him to ask me that, since I know that sometimes he just really doesn’t know what he did.

    I know that his tone is going to be frustrated and upset and sometimes even defiant. I’m trying to teach him that some level of compliance is definitely ok and sometimes down right necessary. The problem is that how do you teach that to a kid who thinks in terms of hard, fast rules? I can’t say that it is ALWAYS the right thing to do to just follow orders. There are exceptions to every rule, and that is a VERY difficult concept for us Aspies to grasp because to us, the world needs to operate by the rules. Unfortunately, feelings, emotions, and intuition do not operate by any kind of hard fast rules… and sometimes those are the things we actually need to trust. That’s a difficult thing to do.

    So, in my own self, I have been trying to figure out how to identify and properly act on those pesky little unknowns. I’ve come to ask myself often, “Why do I feel this? and What should I do about it?” It’s a lot of work that I would have no clue how to ask of a child. It has only been in the past 10 years or so that I’ve begun to learn it myself. So, I’m trying to lay the foundation for my son to ask himself the same questions. “Know thyself.” Good thing to learn.

  • August 10, 2009 at 2:52 am

    Reading about Wolfie is great.

    He’s right about being violent so that he can have power.

    The thrill ride was a good metaphor, and helped us understand.

    The sisters for you and the water and chips for him – that must have been good.

    Looking forward to more HAPPY Aspies.


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