To the Parents Who’ve Been Told What Their Child With Asperger’s Can’t Do
Dear parents of a child diagnosed with Asperger syndrome (AS),
Right now it might feel as though your world has just crashed down around you. How could your sweet little child have AS? I want you to take the time to process the diagnosis. Don’t go straight to groups asking questions like, “How did this happen?” because people might be mean and say things like, “How could you not accept your child?” But I know you do. I know you just want the best for them.
Your child is exactly the same person they were before the diagnosis, but I know you think your dreams for them are now out of reach. Take time to grieve the life you thought you would have. I believe you need to do this to accept and embrace the life you have now. It will be different, and you need time to accept that change. I understand that.
Professionals will try to tell you your child can’t do this and can’t do that, but you’re their parents. I believe you know best what your child is capable of, so listen to those instincts. Some people in support groups might also be negative, but just ignore them and soak up everyone else’s positivity. When I was younger, I was told doing residential camps for sailing was a bad idea, and that I would never live independently. Now I sail competitively on a yacht as part of a team, and I live independently in halls at university.
Do your research and listen to what people with AS have to say. There are so many myths out there that will scare you. People say those with AS can’t be in a relationship, that we don’t have empathy, that we can’t succeed in team sports, etc. Well I’ll tell you now, I was in a relationship for a year, and I know many people with AS who are married or in relationships. We do have empathy, and we can sense when something isn’t right — we just struggle to know what to do to make it better. And we can succeed in team sports. I’m about to start playing ice hockey, and for the last few years I’ve been racing yachts. That involves being in close quarters with about six other people for long periods of time.
It will be a hard road ahead of you, I can’t deny that, but it will be a wonderful one, too. You will see your child shine. You will see them break stereotypes and defy the professionals. You have a fight ahead of you for this. You will need to fight for the resources to make sure your child reaches their full potential, but when they do, you’ll realize it was worth it. All the sleepless nights and tears shed will be in the past, and you’ll see just what you were fighting for. They might not have friends right now, but when they find themselves, they will create the strongest of friendships. Lift them up through the bad times, and show them the way to the light.
Make the most of every moment with your child. Before you know it, they’ll be grown up and wanting to be independent.
A successful young woman with AS
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