I ran across the headline: “For LGBT teens, acceptance is critical“. I have always been interested in the struggle of LGBT teens because I see many parallels with Aspies. They are differentiated by something that they are born with and yet many people see as a personal choice or failure – something they can control.
The basic message of the article was that regardless of how much bullying a LGBT teen might be subjected to the way the adults in there world respond to their sexuality has a greater affect on their mental health and self esteem. Family acceptance of LGBT youth predicts positive outcomes in mental health, self esteem
This does not surprise me. As much as teens put up a front of not caring about or needing the approval of adults, individually, they still look to adult world to get their bearings.
All Aspie parents, the story you are giving your Aspie teen is vital to how they will make it through the struggles of transitioning from child to adult.
Are you embarrassed of your child?
Are they “Too much to handle?”
Are they “broken”?
I have been learning that changing my story, my perspective has a huge impact on how my son views himself. Here are my personal keys:
- Daniel isn’t flawed. His inability to fit into “norms” is neither good nor bad. It has benefits (a different view on the world) and challenges (communicating those views effectively). My job is to help him overcome the challenges and promote the benefits. I don’t want to change him I want to teach him to be bi-lingual – speaking both his native language and NT language.
- Daniel doesn’t need to be normal. He needs to learn to self-advocate effectively through learning to communicate with people who are different then him – don’t we all.
- Different is good.
- Daniel’s shadow side is no different then all of our shadow side and like all of us, Daniel must learn healthy ways to address his shadow side. Asperger’s doesn’t give him a free pass for hurtful behavior – it just makes it easier for all of us to see and help him address.
- Authenticity is a treasure – even if it presents in a package we didn’t expect.
I realize, that Daniel’s high functioning makes bridging the gap with the NT world easier. However, I believe that no matter what level of functioning a child/person can obtain, who they are individually is a good thing and they have something to offer – even if the challenges are great. I also believe that one of the many challenges as a special needs parent is sometimes my own perspective.