When My Teen With Asperger’s Was Trapped in a Car With Me

I love the ride to school in the morning. Well, I should say I love some rides to school on some mornings. Other days can be loud and crazy with a couple of boys in a vehicle way too small for a mom who hasn’t had a sip of coffee.

But I really do enjoy most mornings in the car, especially once I drop my little guy off, because then it’s just me and the teenager. The “way too cool to talk to mom until he’s trapped in a car” teenager. Yes, this is my time to have deep discussions about girls, life, school, mean kids, nice kids, hopes, dreams — you name it — and he can do nothing about it (insert evil laugh)!

This morning, we talked about school. It’s his fourth week and he’s already behind. Year after year, we have had the same issues with school. He’s had trouble staying organized, he couldn’t keep up with his homework and he’s lied almost every night about the amount of homework he has. Schoolwork has always been one big constant stressor for our family.

This year, my fears were magnified because he’s now an eighth grader. This is it! If he can’t get organized by the end of this year, how will he ever handle high school? If he can’t understand the importance of homework, how is he ever going to pass high school and move on to college.

During our 15-minute discussion this morning about his grades, I told him when he lies to me about his homework and doesn’t turn his assignments in on time, he’s only hurting himself. He looked at me and said, “You don’t understand me at all! It’s not that I don’t want to do my homework. It’s just that my brain can’t take it anymore. It’s tired and exhausted and can’t do anymore!”

Suddenly, it smacked me in the face. Why didn’t I comprehend this before? My son has attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). His brain is moving at a much faster pace than mine will ever go. It’s going nonstop until he goes to sleep at night. 

My son also has Asperger’s syndrome. His brain is working double time just to process things that come easily to others. He starts school at 7 a.m. By 3 p.m., 4 p.m. or 5 p.m., his brain has to be exhausted. I can’t even imagine what it must feel like to be him. Then when he comes home, I ask him about his homework and his mind is saying, “I can’t do this,” but his mouth is saying, “I don’t have any.”

For the first time ever, I felt like I understood the challenges he faces at school. I would love to say I feel so much better now but I don’t. Actually, I’m even more fearful of how hard life is going to be for him. How is he ever going to handle college or a job or doing homework with his own children if his brain just can’t keep up? I can only hope and pray that it will eventually click. Somehow, someway, he will figure out how to make this all work to his advantage. I hope this all happens sooner than later.

I don’t have all the answers, but for now, I’m thankful for those 15 minutes of my teenager being trapped in a car with me.

Rachelle Wade the mighty.2-001

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