Misconceptions #specialsaturday

Special Saturday is a great event where a question or theme is suggested and then everyone can tweet or post their thoughts related to this theme. They are here on facebook if you would like to read some of the other posts. On twitter#specialsaturday. I generally participate on twitter and I like to read what everyone else writes. Sometimes I don’t have a relevant thought in my head. Or sometimes, like this week I have way more than 140 characters to write!

Misconceptions about my Son

Like most mother’s I have a picture of my son in my office. Because of the way my office is arranged I have a credenza on the back wall and my son’s picture is right there for the world to see. Everyone that comes in comments about how he is such a good looking kid. He is, but I am not sure that is what he thinks but I am quite sure he couldn’t care less.

My son is verbal and he generally uses the correct words. Especially if he is comfortable and discussing something he is interested in. In some ways I was glad that his interest/obsession was video games. This was peer acceptable and for a while he had friends that he would sit and talk to about video games. They also talked about super heroes and other typical pre-teen boy topics. For the most part he fit in.

And then he would go to class and become stressed about something. By eighth grade he had quit having full blown melt downs in class. Instead he shut down. He would refuse to do the work. I would hear from the teachers and principal that “it was like he was choosing” not to do the work. I would try to explain but they wouldn’t listen. They would throw in my face “I just saw him at lunch with his friends and he seems normal”. When he would shut down and not answer them, the school called him “insubordinate” for not answering. They did not want to hear that he wasn’t talking because he was stressed. I guess because he “seemed so normal.”

At the high school the teacher seemed more understanding and they really did try. But they had the same struggle with not understanding why he didn’t understand something.  They would say he was too bright to not understand things.  They would say he was just avoiding it.  My experience with him is that when he avoids things it is because he is stuck on something.  The advantage of schooling him at home is that I can usually figure out what he is stuck on.

On the flip side we deal with misconceptions that he is an angry or rude person.  He is only 14 but he is over 6 feet tall.  He walks with his head down and doesn’t make eye contact with anyone.  Additionally when someone speaks to him he will sometime shrug his shoulders or grunt.  When he knows that he is supposed to be polite he actually does very well interacting with someone for short periods of time.  Longer periods of time when he is comfortable with someone.

When he gets upset about something he will shut down or start to yell.  When he was in middle school the intervention specialist kept telling me she was scared of him.  I asked if he EVER threatened her or did anything.  She said no but commented about how he speaks to her.  I had met with this women and really we are all lucky that he didn’t hit her.  I wanted to hit her.  I praised my son often for being so well behaved that year under such horrible circumstances.  When I commented on this to the one psychologist she said that she was scared of him at first too.  Again it wasn’t that he did anything.  It was how he carried himself.  If he was about 2 feet shorter people would just read it as shy or depressed.  Because he is so huge he is “scary”.  The psychologist went on to say that once she got to know him she realized he was just a big teddy bear.  Well I suppose but the bear part does occasionally come out.  I just know how to interact with him to keep him under control.

I really wish that people would stop judging him one way or another and see him for what he is.  Yes he can act as his neurotypical peers but when he gets stressed or stuck on an assignment he just needs some extra help.


  1. My son is 13 at middle school. This is a hard time for him, as well.

  2. “My experience with him is that when he avoids things it is because he is stuck on something”

    YES! I totally see this in my kid. I think that since my son is verbal and quite intelligent, that people have trouble adjusting their expectations of him.

    On a good day, he’s the sweetest kid. If he becomes overloaded or stuck, he is capable of astonishing meltdowns.

    Teacher’s have trouble understanding the sensory issues that impact his balance. He is never out of control for no reason.

  3. I read this out to my husband as it is so similar to my aspergers daughter. At the moment, she is shutting down at school a lot or refuses to go to school because she can’t cope anymore. And the school, similar to your experiences, keep saying things like “well, she looks happy”. They haven’t a clue about aspergers and just assume because she looks normal, there isn’t a problem.

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