Tag Archive: adolescents


Our daughter’s psychologist always said… just get her through high school.  College will be easier once she gets to choose her courses.  Well, in some ways yes — in other ways, not so much!

Once your Aspergian is an adult, there’s little you can really control — unless they allow you to.  Privacy policies and over-enthusiastic freshman advisors will block you at every turn in the effort to ensure this young adult starts to test their wings (no matter what the consequences!)

At orientation, the big message to parents was to “let go”.  I’m sure that with NT (neurotypical) young adults, that’ is absolutely the best thing to do.  However, with Asperger’s Syndrome in the mix, the decision-making capabilities can be more diminished.  Some Aspergians will accept authority and not question things enough.  So, at orientation, parents were not allowed into the course selection process and our daughter ended up with THREE virtual courses and only two on-campus courses.

LESSON #1:  REAL CLASSROOM TEACHING WORKS BETTER FOR OUR ASPERGIAN THAN VIRTUAL COURSES

First semester completed.  We’ve been told by our daughter that she did pretty well, although she had dropped one class.  Well, wasn’t she surprised to receive a letter from the university right before second semester letting her know that she is on academic probation.  Failed two courses her first semester.   Of the courses she had trouble with — all three were “virtual” – requiring her to keep track of assignments, tests, etc. and do them on time via computer.  Two F’s and a withdraw.   For her on-campus courses, she earned an A and a B!

LESSON #2: COLLEGE PROFESSORS ARE NOT AS SYMPATHETIC AS  HIGH SCHOOL TEACHERS

This was a rude awakening for someone who was pushed and prodded through high school by instructors who contacted her or us about missing assignments or low test scores.  She contacted one professor and was told pretty succinctly that she had not turned in two assignments that were  a large portion of her grade, therefore she had earned what she got.  There were some tears and (I hope) the realization that college professors are not as forgiving as her high school teachers when it comes to grades.

LESSON #3:  AN ASPERGIAN WILL HAVE OPPORTUNITIES TO EXCEL IN COLLEGE WITH THEIR SPECIALIZED AREA OF INTEREST

On the bright side, during her first semester, she joined many student organizations, including the staff of the university newspaper.  Politics within the newspaper staff resulted in editors playing favorites with some of the writers — which didn’t include her.  She attended editorial meetings and presented many ideas and articles, but was only published once or twice during the semester.  She was becoming frustrated and ready to quit, but we encouraged her to stick with it.

It paid off. This semester, she is taking some different courses (ALL ON CAMPUS, thanks to mom helping with the registration this time).  Her journalism professor took notice of her writing skills and told her how talented she is.  She mentioned to him her frustration with the school newspaper not including her articles.  He must have made a call. Right after that, she got a full-page feature article in the university newspaper and was promoted to Senior Staff Writer!  In addition, her professor has recommended her to the local newspaper as a freelance writer.

Compared to many Aspergians, our daughter is really only mildly affected, but it DOES affect her daily life.  She must learn to embrace her strengths, but know that she has a responsibility to push through and improve upon her weak areas, such as communication, time management and organizational skills, in order to gain opportunities.  In starting to let go as parents, it is a daily struggle to deal with the worry about the decisions she will make; things she might forget; things she should be doing, etc.  All parents of college students probably go through this as their sons or daughters make possibly life-altering mistakes.  However, we must remember that it IS their life, and every mistake will lead – hopefully – to learning accountability and self-sufficiency as they begin to take life on their own two feet.

Aspergers + Prom = One Rough Night

After my daughter’s disastrous night at her Senior Prom, I’m left wondering, “Is taking these risks really worth it?”

When my daughter had her heart set on going to the Prom, I knew it was risky based on previous outcomes of dances and other school functions.  (See my other post about Prom for the back story.) And, I’m not talking about what most people associate as Prom risks – drinking, drugs, sex or wild parties.  My biggest fear was that she would be isolated, alone and miserable.

I tried to reduce the risk by counseling her about what to expect, ensuring she was going with a group of nice kids, getting her a nice dress and making her look great so she’d fit in, at least on the outside.  She’d been coached on what to do. The rest was up to her, since beyond those aforementioned factors, the situation was out of my control. The evening started well when meeting up at a friend’s house for a dinner, taking photos, everyone complimenting each other. I had high hopes.

However, my biggest fear was confirmed when I picked her up after Prom at 11:30, and she was in tears, not wanting to talk about it.  The only things I could confirm were that a) she was so nervous at the pre-party she didn’t eat; b) she was by herself most of the night; and c) she didn’t dance or actually enjoy herself at all once she got to the dance.  After an emotional, insomniac night spent with my sobbing daughter, I’m left feeling guilty and broken-hearted. I hurt for her and for my own shattered expectations.

Every parent instinctively wants to protect their children from disappointment and unpleasantness. However, we can’t be around them 24/7 and the training wheels have to come off eventually.  There are valuable lessons to be learned from each experience, whether dealing with success or disappointment.  With that said, it doesn’t make it any easier when things go wrong.

Thankfully, this morning she’s in a better frame of mind and can look back on her Prom experience a little more objectively.  Rough night though. Thankfully, she’s looking ahead towards graduation.

If you have experiences to share, please do!  Comment below.  Would love to hear from other parents who are also going through challenges, whether Asperger’s-related or not.

I’m killing time in Barnes & Noble since they’re open until 11pm and I have nowhere to be until 11:30 when I pick up my daughter at prom.  I want to stay close, but not too close, and it’s too far to drive all the way home and back anyway.

I guess I should explain that my daughter has Asperger’s Syndrome, diagnosed during her sophomore year.  She’s very smart, polite and pretty, but has always been a loner — left out, teased, bullied, marching to the beat of a different drummer.  The other students either think she’s extremely brainy, or just odd, because of her advanced vocabulary, deep thinking, and a demeanor which shouts, “I want to be alone” even though that’s not what she means at all.

This is the first dance she’s been to since freshman year.  That was a disaster.  My husband and I took her out to eat since she didn’t have a date and of course there were a bunch of other students with their dates at the same restaurant a few tables away from us.  We dropped her off at the dance, then went to the movies.  An hour later, got a call from her that she wanted to be picked up right away because she was having a terrible time.  All the kids were “bumping and grinding” and she was being ignored.  She has had no desire to go to any dance since then — until now — senior prom.

Thinking back to the freshman dance experience, and the numerous times we’ve had to pick her up early at school events when she was either uncomfortable or bored or just decided she was ready to leave, I’m hoping for the best – that she’ll have a fun and memorable evening – or at least make it through the whole dance until it ends at 11:30.  I’m also prepared for the worst – a call from her or a chaperone asking to pick her up.  That’s why I’m staying fairly close. So far, so good though.

She doesn’t have a date, but met up with a group of about 20 classmates at one of their homes where the parents were putting on dinner for all of them.  Some were going as couples, most were going “stag”.  I walked her in and chit-chatted with some of the other parents as we took photos and complimented the young adults in all their finery before taking our leave of them. Since she doesn’t have her own car yet, she was to get a ride to the dance from a classmate.

Texts… dance started at 8:30 pm
8:44 pm   Hey
8:44 pm   Everything ok?
9:34 pm   Yes I guess

No more since then, and it’s now 10:02.  I’ll figure no news is good news.  Fingers crossed that she’ll have a positively memorable evening.

Summer Camps for Aspies

PLEASE CHECK OUT THE 2013 ARTICLE WITH EVEN MORE CAMPS ADDED TO THE LIST!

Summer camp can be a lonely place for many kids, but for those with the sensory and social challenges of Asperger’s Syndrome, camp can create many uncomfortable situations, if not a very bad experience — just the opposite of what most parents hope for their children.

Before our daughter was diagnosed, we sent her to an all-girls Christian summer camp for a week at about age 14.  They had wonderful activities – the usual campfires, art, tennis, horseback riding you’d expect at summer camp, plus a tubing trip down a local river.  Well, she “survived” but not without some challenges (thank goodness for a kind counselor).  If we only had known about Asperger’s Syndrome then, I would have certainly looked for a camp more suited to her comfort zone.

I recently came across a listing of summer camps for children with AS and similar disabilities and thought I’d share a few.  This is in no way an endorsement of any of those on the list since I have no personal experience with these camps — you’ll have to check them out for yourself.  But here’s a place to start!

  • Camp Kodiak, McKellar, Ontario, Canada – a unique, integrated, non-competitive program for children and teens with and without ADHD, LD, NLD and Asperger’s Syndrome
  • Camp Buckskin, Ely, Minnesota – an overnight summer camp that specializes in serving boys and girls ages 6-18 who are experiencing academic and/or social skill difficulties
  • Summit Camp, Honesdale, Pennsylvania – a summer sleepaway camp  for boys and girls, ages 8-17, with issues of attention including ADHD, Asperger’s syndrome, NVLD, and/or mild social or emotional concerns
  • Camp Nuhop, Perrysville, Ohio – a residential summer camp for all children with learning disabilities, attention deficit disorders and behavior disorders
  • Talisman Programs, Zirconia, North Carolina – offers kids ages 6-14 a typical summer camp experience with the structure and social skill guidance needed for success

These are just a few of those listed — be sure to check out mysummercamps.com for SIX PAGES of listings!

AHA/Asperger Syndrome and High Functioning Autism Association will hold its annual spring conference on Saturday, May 1, 2010 at Adelphi University in Garden City, New York.  John Elder Robison, best-selling author of his 2007 memoir Look Me in the Eye: My Life With Asperger’s is the featured keynote speaker for the conference.

The conference theme is “Issues in Independent Living for Adolescents and Adults on the Autism Spectrum” with a mission to increase awareness of the countless challenges and difficulties individuals on the autism spectrum face as adults and to assist in their independence. The conference will focus on establishing effective systems of supports and services from transition through adulthood.

The conference invites educators, professionals, family members and individuals on the Autism Spectrum to join in the activities which include workshops, panels, bookstore, agencies and resources throughout the day. More information is on the AHANY.org web site.