Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Well, it's beatings all around then*

As an Aspie Joseph has a hard time understanding emotions. He's just starting to get a handle on his own but other people's leave him completely befuddled. He often tries to guess how people will feel about certain things and he's very often wrong. He'll say something like "You would think it was funny if Elle fell down the steps." Now, he doesn't say that because he thinks it would be funny. He's seen her get hurt before and he's always been very upset by it. For some reason though he thinks I would think it would be funny. He doesn't make the connection that tells him that if he finds something upsetting, someone else might find it upsetting too.

Anger is really hard for him to figure out. He's constantly misunderstanding what makes us angry and how angry it makes us. He always waaaay overestimates how upset we're likely to be about something. One day after school he was just in tears because he was certain I was going to be so upset at him because he took too long in the bathroom. He said that no one else had been mad at him but he was so sure that Jesse and I were going to be. He couldn't even explain why he thought that but it took a lot of convincing to get him to believe that I wasn't upset about how long he had spent in the bathroom.

I used to think that maybe Joseph thought these things because maybe we sometimes over-reacted to things. Maybe he had some reason to think we might just fly off the handle for no reason. I didn't really think that we did but I worried that he was getting this fear from somewhere.

Then not too long ago he told me he was worried that my mom was going to hit him for not eating enough lunch. Now, if you know my mom you know that there is no one in the world less likely to hit Joseph than her. She would probably cut off her own hand before striking either one of the kids. Nobody has ever hit either one of the kids so I don't know why Joseph had this sudden fear that he was going to get smacked over his eating habits.

He just doesn't seem to understand the way other people feel. Lack of empathy is common in Aspies. It's not that Joseph doesn't care how other people feel, it's that he just doesn't understand. We try to verbalize our feelings a lot so that he understands how we feel and why we feel that way. "I feel angry because...", "I feel happy that you...", "I feel sad when..." and so on. I feel like it's helping but it does lead me to say some strange things.

This last weekend I took Joseph to see A Bee Movie (I give it a solid "meh") and when it was done I had him come into the bathroom with me. (Because I am a paranoid mama who does not let my seven year old wait outside the bathroom for me.) I had him wait right outside the stall for me and when we were done I said "I'm proud that you did such a good job in the bathroom. You didn't complain at all and you were very respectful of my privacy**. I'm happy that you did so well." As I said all that I saw this woman giving me a look that said "What in the hell are you talking to him like that for?"

I just smiled a smile that I hope said "I understand. I would have made that some face a few years ago too if I had heard someone saying that. It's what my boy needs right now though."

*Extra credit for anyone who knows where I got this title from.

**I've caught him trying to peak at me in bathroom stalls before. He can't help it, he thinks my fragina is hilarious.


DreamCatcher said...

I don't know a whole lot about children with Aspergers but is it possible his "unusual fears" are coming about after hearing someone at school make a comment. I'm thinking particularly about the smacking one. Is it possible he heard someone at school say he/she got hit for not eating and developed this fear? Just a thought. Now back to quietly enjoying your blog.

Grandma Judy said...

Maybe Joseph feels vulnerable and expressing his fears of someone hitting him or someone being overly upset with him is his way of expressing that vulnerability. (Just a hunch). In any case, both of you are doing a wonderful job with him. I give him credit for trying to figure out the most complex thing of all....human emotions. Just keep loving him and encouraging him. Grandma Judy

melody is slurping life said...

I'm here to give Joseph and his mom a great big {{{HUG}}}. You are both doing beautifully. Just keep smiling that all-knowing smile at "those people".

You know I totally get it and commend you. :)