Thoughts and illustrations on living on the autism spectrum.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

I Need...

“I've countless times seen the eyes of a child with Asperger's well up because I simply got what they meant, because I simply understood.” - Richard Bromfield


  1. It's really easy these days to feel like you've done your part to help someone by making a quick response online. I am as guilty of that as anyone. This is a great reminder to stop and listen and more importantly, HEAR.

  2. Very true, Stimey. But even more than people being in a hurry, it's difficult to judge the context of an online post. Sometimes a person is just venting and sometimes they need someone to talk to.

    The problem with this is that people on the spectrum sometimes feel most comfortable asking for help online. They may be under stress or in crisis and not be able to articulate it, or be fearful of doing so. So it's particularly important with your friends with autism to listen, and understand the context.

  3. Was it the dog who finally listened? I can relate. My Lily is my best friend and gives me so much comfort and joy. And yet, she is a very smart, independent soul with her own 'ideas' and a very distinct personality! When she comes and sits on my lap sometimes or comes up and lies down on my stomach in bed some mornings I am very touched because I know she means it. She doesn't need it. She is full of enthusiasm for life and loves to play ball, especially with little kids in our neighbourhood or at the park. All that being said, there is nothing to top a warm all-enveloping hug from a human who cares about you. That, and a willing ear.

  4. Hi Bev, I call that character a Beedy - they do kind of look like dogs though. Pets certainly have intuitive qualities like our human friends who understand us best. You are lucky to have a friend like Lily.

  5. This, is awesome... I cannot express more at the moment, but thank you. ^_^

  6. You're welcome, Curator. Thanks for visiting.

  7. Okay, so here's the deal. I love your cartoons.

    When Ben was little, he used to create the most concise, meaningul cartoons. Like a picture of a thousand words. Little vingettes of life carried out to completion by a third grader. He drew better than he could explain in words, bless his heart.

    And so did my aspie nephew, now an author. I wonder if the ability to concisely represent things graphically is a gift...

  8. Thanks for your comment, #7. In a previous post, I wrote about how I started cartooning around 7, and in retrospect it became a special interest. I think all special interests, including artistic ability, are gifts.

  9. **is hugged**

    Thanks Niko. I wonder what you readers think of *hugs* and related comments online? I tend to put it in the same category as "aw, dislike" and other quick responses. *Hugs* is thoughtful but still falls short when you are down and seeking human interaction. Of course, it's still the closest thing to coming through the computer screen to give a hug. The intention is appreciated, but it still leaves me wishing for the real thing. What do you think?

  10. Can I ask you for a bit of related advice? My nine year old son said to me (after a meltdown and lots of tears), "Nobody understands me." He doesn't articulate deep feelings very often, so I know this has probably been brewing for a while, and if he said it, he meant it. Any advice?

  11. Apples,

    I have an 8 year old with aspergers and I have not yet heard the "nobody understands me" line, but there have been many dramatic sayings like that I have had to deal with.

    Sometimes his words are simply that, self pitty and drama. Sometimes they are real feelings. Either way I try to deal on the side of caution and reinforce the positives, and give solutions whenever these feelings present themselves.

    My Son is honest to a fault, he has too much trouble lieing or hiding his feelings. This gives me an even greater understanding of him. It also doesn't hurt that he is part "me" and I remember what it was like to be a kid. I find that telling him stories about when I was a kid both fascinate him and help him to feel less alienated. Let's face it, we all threw fits when we were kids, teenagers, and even adults. My stories usually focus around my mistakes and how I was corrected by my parents, or what I learned from my experiences.

    As for kids his age, well I would remind him that few people outside of your immediate family will ever "understand" you, and that is not a bad or exclusive to aspergers thing.

    Think about it, how many people in your life truly understand you? Maybe a best friend, maybe a husband/wife, or even a parent/sibling. I look at that list and can only say my wife (maybe there is something wrong with ME?).

    The only way people understand you is for you to communicate or teach them about yourself. It's hard for some kids with aspergers to do that, but to come full circle I use my son's honesty to draw out the things I need to know.

    Also note that the more he understands others, the more he can adjust his expectations of them.

    We have a kid down the street who (forgive me) is a complete MORON. I constantly role play with my Son as if I am an "ignorant meat head" just to show him the best way to react to this kid. I also have to be the antagonizing teacher's pet that tattles on him, the girl he has a crush on that doesen't know he exists...perhaps I am sharing too much....

    I hope some of my rambling here helps.

  12. Thanks, #12. I threw Apples' question out to Twitter since I didn't have an answer myself.

  13. Anonymous,

    Thanks for the advice.

  14. When I was a kid, I said "Nobody understands me" ALL THE TIME. I'm not exaggerating when I say that. I said it so much, my mom eventually bought some little plaque from Hallmark with a picture of a basset hound on it, with the words "Nobody understands me" under it. I remember this vividly.

    I also remember honestly feeling that way. I had a really hard time as a kid. I think there was probably a lot of stuff going on that never got noticed or diagnosed. The thing is, I don't know what would have helped. No one can make you feel understood. I would suggest that you listen, that you validate him, see if he can tell you how to help him (if he can—I wouldn't have been able to). I wish I could help you help him, but as a young adult and a grownup, I have finally found people who do understand me, so there's that.

    Do NOT, under any circumstances, buy him a plaque with a dog on it and the words, "Nobody understands me."