The Grass Is Always Greener

Autism From: Happy Aspies

Sometimes I feel like scooping up my family and going someplace remote where we can live without all the stimulus and social pressure that living in an American suburb or city provides. I truly believe that Wolfie belongs near the water. He loves the water and is drawn to it whenever he is near it. There are so many logistical and practical reasons for not relocating. Our families are here, our network, our support. Everything we have ever done is here.

I know that for most people the practical choice is the best one. I’m not so sure that is the case for my little family. We are a family filled with impracticality and unconvention. I feel like so much of my days are spent trying to make us all fit inside this shape that was predesigned and is unmoving. This is what I dislike about the puzzle piece symbol for Autism. Yeah, people on the spectrum have a difference about them that is hard to figure out and maybe that is all that is meant by the symbol. But, I can’t shake this feeling that most non-spectrum folks would like to see ASD cured and that there is a sadness associated with ASD. Or that people on the spectrum are sick. Or that they will never fit.

The sadness I feel mostly is from the rejection that my son feels on a regular basis from his peers and many adults. It also stems from my own pressure on him to conform. This feels like such a double standard. I want him to be who he is and for that to be comfortable for him. When I really examine it, I think he is comfortable with himself. He’s not comfortable with everyone else’s view of him and our ideas. And we aren’t comfortable with him.  As his parent, it is so hard to strike a balance with my own feelings and desires for him, his feelings and desires and those of the rest of society.

It is this banter that goes on in my head everyday that makes me realize that I need to create more space for him. My practicality will win on the not moving thing. But there has to be some compromise between what we expect from him and what he expects from us.  And his strengths need to be put to good use regularly. In my desperation to create tools to help him do what is expected, I sometimes neglect to nurture the parts of him that make him shine and show off the beautifully, unique person he is.

I am not beating myself up, but rather taking note that the balance is off. I remember when the summer first began I had these wonderful ideas of how we would spend our days. Some of those ideas we have made reality and some have gone by the way-side.

We found a way to bring the water to Wolfie. He and my Dad created a wonderful back yard pond and waterfall for him to play with and enjoy. He uses different objects to make the waterfall look different and then swings while he studies the pattern of the water falling. Watching him do this is very peaceful. I can see the happy-go-lucky little guy I know and love so much while he is tinkering with the water.

Dreaming about life somewhere else helps me be creative with the life we have here and develop new ideas and strategies for whatever obstacles are present.  I know that uprooting our family would be more disruptive than anything else because we have relationships here that are irreplaceable. I must continue to remember that the challenges we face with Asperger’s will be with us no matter where we are and the best thing we can do for ourselves is to make happiness right here at home.

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

happyaspies

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 “The Grass Is Always Greener

  • August 11, 2009 at 5:51 pm
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    @keystspf@xanga – Beautiful vision!  I love it — in fact it’s amazingly similar to some of my own.  Although there were times when younger that I liked imagining being on a spaceship going on a long trip to another solar system.  I knew the trip would take years — which was just as enjoyable as the thought of the destination itself — since I imagined the trip free of irksome distractions.  I also loved to imagine large man-made floating “islands” on the surface of the ocean.  Now, back on a mundane practical level, I’ll strongly suggest really dark window blinds.  They really do cut out lights shining in the windows at night.  They are a real luxury.

    @aspiemamma — I love that you are willing to dream of a better life, but willing to be practical and not give up the good things in your present life, and willing to work to make your present life better by bringing the water to Wolfie. So many people give up on their dreams and mope and do nothing productive.  Good for you & your Dad to make a special place

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  • August 11, 2009 at 8:19 am
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    @abilene_piper_lg@xanga –  Life was very difficult for my friend – he has AS, is an atheist and gay – in the small town he was from where church ruled and to be any religion other than Christian was (and is) so unacceptable and homosexuality is soto-voce, a sin for which you will be punished.  We are both English teachers in London now and have no intention of living in the US again. Europe basically ignores differences, whereas the best you can expect in the US is toleration.

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  • August 10, 2009 at 3:18 pm
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    I spend a lot of time daydreaming about a place that is quiet, with a waterfall splashing down to a river that leads to the ocean, all within walking distance of each other… where I can grow fresh vegetables and spend my days writing and reading stories and playing music with people who also want to do the same sorts of things. I would like to make clothes that don’t itch or fit badly and bother me. I would like to have room for the electronic gadgets I like so much too though. I love my surround sound system… but I would love to hear real quiet sometimes too. I’d like a place to sleep at night where there are not lights shining into my windows and the noise of cars passing and neighbors talking and fighting and doing other things that have earned them the title of “rabbits.”

    I would love to see grass and plants rather than concrete and tar and lightpoles. Such places seem to only exist 100 years ago or in Vermont where it is way too cold most of the year to enjoy them…LOL. Sometimes I wonder if the industrial revolution did more harm than good. I can’t help but wonder what really clean air smells like. What silence really sounds like… without the echo of all the noise still in it. I’ve only experienced this in a few places. And even those have been “tourist” attractions and not places to actually live.

    Some day… I’m dreaming of this place and wishing of a way to make it happen… some day… for now, it exists in my imagination and in books I’ve read about places far away or long ago. Who knows? Maybe that’s what heaven is like.

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  • August 10, 2009 at 11:04 am
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    @aspiemamma – I’m not saying the challenges go away completely, however, depending on where you go, are much better tolerated. You know as well as I do, for example, that the USA is not at all an atheist-friendly nation. Canada, the UK, and Australia all are (with at least 40% of the general population of those countries being atheist/agnostic/non-religious). I also have a few really huge issues with medical practice in America, but that’s a debate for another day. I know I took what you meant a bit farther than what you intended, however, I’m just speaking from my experience. 

    I know the challenges faced with AS as well, having it myself, and it’s also something else that’s not at all really tolerated here. Conservative Texas doesn’t believe in disabilities and believe everyone, no matter how disabled, should fend for themselves with no assistance, which is another issue that bothers me. I also suffer from three other medical conditions that prevent me from working a lot of the time (Graves’ Disease, Cluster Headaches, and WPW Syndrome), and once again, I’m not offered the assistance I need. It’s really frustrating, and I think a lot of that has to do with location. 

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  • August 10, 2009 at 10:56 am
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    @abilene_piper_lg@xanga – I didn’t mean to sound anti-America in this story. I love living in the USA and all the priviledges that come with that. I never want to take that for granted.

    The point really was that it feels unproductive to me to imagine myself somewhere else and make the assumption that it would be better. I think your challenges follow you where ever you go. Maybe they change with the scenery, but they never disappear. It’s good for me to remember that.

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  • August 10, 2009 at 10:43 am
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    Yeah, I know. Mine’s not so much to do with AS, but it’s how people of my (lack of) faith don’t really get a fair shake here. Atheists are even less tolerated and trusted than homosexuals in the USA. Hence I want to be Canadian or British eventually (Australian wouldn’t be bad either, and I’ve even considered maybe going to a non-English speaking country and being an English teacher in addition to a math teacher). 

    But I understand the “grass is always greener” sentiment. 

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