Worried about grandchild

I am a single divorced woman age 58. I have been dating a gentleman for 5 years who has a daughter that I suspect has AS but has not been diagnosed. She is married to a nice guy and they have a 4 year old daughter that is like my granddaughter. I am very concerned for the child. At this point she actually growls at her mother when she approaches her when she is playing.

The mother is a technician and does a very good job. And never wants to take a day off from work which is probably best for the child. She does not have social skills. She has no friends. She repeats the same stories over and over again I think because she likes to hear and relive them. They are either about happy times in her life or great sorrows in her life. She is only 30 yrs old. She has no empathy for the child. She wants her to be perfectly dressed and behaved at all times but has no skills and does not know how to teach her things. She wants her to be like a pet or doll. I have never seen her actually play with the child. She also hoards things and keeps them in the child’s room and expects her not to play with them but is not able to discipline her enough to keep her from it. Of course the whole house is full of stuff. The mother is sometimes very violent to the child not intentionally just because she is an idiot and does not realize that she is hurting her.

I could go on and on about the mistreatment of the child as you know but what I need to know is how can I help the child?

I try to keep her at my house at least every other Saturday night but I am old and have to work everyday to support myself. The grandfather sees the problem but doesn’t know what to do about it. I have not mentioned that I think his daughter is Autistic but she shows all the symptoms. And he realizes she does not behave normally. I can’t even imagine how she treats the child when no one is around. The father is not much help because he is a good guy but a little weird also. I did get him on my side and get the mother to quit giving the child enemas at the drop of a hat when she was having trouble going to the bathroom because of a lack of good nutrition. The child was even threatened with enemas for  any little thing she did wrong. I pitched a good old fit about that and I think I took care of it. The child is very smart and she talks to me. Of course she is not potty trained. But maybe this summer she will decide to train herself.


Help me help the child. 
 

The Constant Gardener

My mother is not employed, never was. Her “eccentric special interest” is gardening — her garden is worth 3 times what her house is worth, and she knows the genus of every plant known to mankind. She gardened instead of parenting me and my brother. (My father was alcoholic . . . which didn’t help the situation.) There are currently over 500 plants in her house. She hoards plants and everything else, including food. There is food in her freezer that has been there since I was in high school (I’m now 46 year old). She seemed to have no idea, when I was a child, that I was a separate person. If she had an interest, she couldn’t understand that I might not share it. If I had an interest she didn’t share, she’d either ignore it or insist that I didn’t have it at all (for example, she told me I couldn’t take dance lessons because SHE was not able to dance). She barely noticed I was alive, much less in trouble or in need of help. I had a severe episode of anorexia as a teenager, but she never noticed as my weight dropped to below 90 pounds. I was sick with this for five years, but she has no recollection of it. When the subject of eating disorders comes up, and the fact that I had one, she’s astonished. It’s as if, because it happened to me rather than to her, it didn’t happen at all. Her conversation is bizarre to say the least. Sometimes she holds forth on gardening, but more often, she engages in a sort of stream of consciousness soliloquy apropos of nothing. If others are holding a normal conversation, she will interject meaningless information into it. Sometimes her interjections are offensive, but if you tell her that you’re offended she has no idea what she might have said wrong. Often her interjections are hilarious or mystifying. The other day, in the middle of a conversation about local politics, she interrupted with: “Did you know that you could adopt a manatee? And give it a name?” She has no friends, other than members of her gardening clubs (she belongs to six) with whom she discusses only plants and gardening. I believe that her manner of relating would be offensive or confusing to anyone who doesn’t share this interest. When my family visits her (she lives several hours away), there is no food for us (other than the hoarded food, which actually ceased to be food many years ago). If she cooks, there is never enough–she doesn’t understand that when there are five people at the table, there needs to be more food than when it’s only her. I could go on and on. I have years of memories. I have always suspected that my mother was not normal. However, as a young child, how do you explain this to anyone else? How do you even know that you’re right? In my case, I did attempt to talk to my father about my mother’s differences but he would always tell me I was wrong or crazy. I guess he had a lot invested in keeping up a good front. But . . . I was astute enough to realize that my mother wasn’t showing me any love, which meant that something was wrong with someone, and if there was nothing wrong with my mother, that must mean that something was wrong with ME. I’m no psychologist, but I’d say it stands to reason that if someone grows up thinking that her mother is unable to show her any love because she’s too flawed to warrant maternal affection, that person is going to have some “issues”. And in fact I’ve struggled my whole life with the belief that I am too fundamentally flawed to deserve love or even a modicum of attention. I have had years of therapy and have finally learned to be comfortable with myself, but it has been a hard road. I am hopeful that someone in this group will relate to this. It would be so validating not to be alone.

Short-takes on AS mothers

Dianna

I have been reading a lot about Asperger’s and I am convinced that my mother is a ‘Strong AS’ case, as it tends to explain her extreme eccentricities, and my HORRIBLE NIGHTMARE of a childhood. I love my mother and I have always sensed that she could not help it, but she neglected her children’s emotional and practical needs, and I was/am more like her parent.

My brother and I lived on the street from an early age, though our mother had an apartment, there was no reason to go home. My mother never had food in the house, never cooked meals, never did laundry. She was unpredictable, and I was afraid of her screaming at me. We were dirty hungry little kids and she didn’t miss us when we stayed at a friends house for weeks/months at a time. One of the saddest memories I recall is being 7 or 8, no food in the house, and a stack of unused expired food stamps sitting on top of the empty refrigerator.

I really thought my mother didn’t care if we lived or died. She was/is happiest when talking about her special interests, and they are more important to her than any of our immediate problems/needs. My mother was/is consumed with babbling about literature, poetry, quantum-physics, druidism. She has no interest in anything I have to say, and always changes the subject back to one of the forementioned topics! This is very embarrassing when having dinner with strangers. Although she was college educated, she worked as a dishwasher and barely paid the rent. She threw childish temper tantrums and blamed us, her children, for her problems(?).

Ann Marie

monologues, limited interests, no manners, no social graces, demanding
and bossy, 1 or no friends, repetition, hates “small talk”, failure to
realize they have any disorder, mumbles to self, bad language/tempers,
etc. I feel that I am an “expert” on AS, especially the genetic
component that families either don’t see or ignore.  Life can be a
nightmare at times, especially when I know that I am the “NT” or
“normal” one and they make me feel I am crazy or “need help”.

Eve

My parents “home” had very little in it – no love, bizarre meals (usually just one ingredient, e.g. all eggs, all beans, all dairy, etc),

Socially, she is extremely pedantic and most new acquaintances excuse themselves after a few minutes.

My mother’s behavior had never fit any psychological profile that I had encountered but I recently met with a psychiatrist and a genetic counselor and they offered the Asperger diagnosis. have felt very let down in the past because others had so little understanding of the harm this type of terrible parenting can inflict.  I have never met any woman who reminds me of my mother and I have never met anyone who has described experiencing the type of bad parenting that I received from my mother.

Rona

She didn’t seem to realise you talk differently to children than you do to adults, especially very young children. My friends couldn’t get away fast enough. Once she caught you it was hard to get away from her monologues about filmstar’s cvs, the plots of romantic movies, told in a meandering monotone.

Leanne

. we were never allowed to have visitors to the house and she isolated
herself from her own family so we had little to do with our many
aunts/uncles and cousins

. she was strict,authoritarian, cold, bullying, prone to temper
tantrums, anger outbursts and not only in the home but outside as well

. she always fell out with the neighbours and we had to move about every
two years

. I never remember being kissed or cuddled or shown any affection and
was not allowed to make my won decisions about anything including food
or clothes or friends

. the house was kept obsessively tidy

. at some point she was diagnosed with schizophrenia and given electric
shock therapy and once tried to commit suicide

. my parents marriage eventually broke down and she just threw us out at
16 and 18 without money or any home to go to. The family scattered

. my brother has continued to try and support her periodically but she
is so destrctive to be around he eventually leaves

. she has continued the pattern of falling out with people and
neighbours getting more and more isolated

I think AS has robbed both me and my brother of a proper childhood, made
it difficult for us to have good relationships, stopped has having any
sort of supportive family so left us to fend for ourselves, subjected us
to constant trauma anxiety and a shifting lifestyle, left us with huge
guilt why we could not love or understand our mother, and generally made
life very difficult. Both of us feel utter relief at this discovery and
things are starting to make sense. My dad died reletively early and I
believe the constant stress, my mother pestered him for twenty years
after their divorce, contributed.

I have suffered with a chronic illness brought on I believe by having a
childhood and a marriage with AS and not understanding or having any
help or support.

I hope to understand more about how this has affected me as a person,
and I am desperate to find out more. I would love to talk to others who
have been in a similar situation too. I am hoping to finally make some
sense of my life

Neglected and living on the street

My brother and I lived on the street from an early age, though our mother had an apartment, there was no reason to go home. My mother never had food in the house, never cooked meals, never did laundry. She was unpredictable, and I was afraid of her screaming at me. We were dirty hungry little kids and she didn’t miss us when we stayed at a friends house for weeks/months at a time. One of the saddest memories I recall is being 7 or 8, no food in the house, and a stack of unused expired food stamps sitting on top of the empty refrigerator.

I really thought my mother didn’t care if we lived or died. She was/is happiest when talking about her special interests, and they are more important to her than any of our immediate problems/needs. My mother was/is consumed with babbling about literature, poetry, quantum-physics, druidism. She has no interest in anything I have to say, and always changes the subject back to one of the forementioned topics! This is very embarrassing when having dinner with strangers. Although she was college educated, she worked as a dishwasher and barely paid the rent. She threw childish temper tantrums and blamed us, her children, for her problems(?).

Felicity’s mother

My Mother has always been unemployed but since my Dad’s health is bad she now works full-time as a checkout operator. She had almost no personal hygiene skills and did not teach any to my brother and I, she had difficulty with basic cause and effect situations, she was fluent and self-taught in ASL and had a passion for almost nothing else but signing, she would leave me alone as a baby in my crib and go to neighbor’s houses to watch TV.  

Even in the face of severe abuse at the hand of my Father she would still not speak when he demanded she tell him why she did things that made no sense (hide the bills, spend all the money, never clean the house).  As a young adult I thought my Mom might have had a stroke or something.

My whole extended family is very disconnected. Just a week ago I went on a road trip to see everyone. It has been 20 years since I have seen or spoken with these people. When I told everyone about my 3 years old recent diagnosis of autism I was told for the first time that I have many autistic cousins and second cousins with it. Also, most of the kids in my family did not speak until a very late age and have poor social skills. People began to tell me stories about my Mother’s odd habits. I made the connection easily at that point and solved a 30 year mystery of severe neglect.

I can forgive my Mom. It is also funny that myself and some my cousins that do not have autism all have photographic memory and went into fields of human services. I became interested in autism in my early 20’s and am now a behavior specialist. The irony of having a daughter with autism after the fact was explained by discovering my Mother’s autism. It makes sense that I was led to this field. I was able to recognize years ago that I do what I do because my Mom never spoke that much even in the face of being abused for it. It is funny how things come full circle. Since I am so new on this journey I am hoping to find ways to get my Mother the help she needs without having to confront my Father with the fact that he severely abused a vulnerable person. He stopped over 15 years ago but is still selfish and controlling. He is the type of person that would kill himself if I confronted him. I think that if I find out he did know I don’t know what I would do. I think hearing other stories will help me define this new information.

Johanna’s mother

[Note:   This post comes from a writer with a non-English speaking background, and should be read in that context]

My mother worked as a cleaner (in office buildings).

She never showed any emotions. She could come home from work and say that she was in a good mood, that she was glad today. And as a child I saw that she was lying, she wasn’t glad at all, and I could never understand why she constantly lied about that.

I have never seen her happy or unhappy, never seen her laugh or cry. But now, as an adult with insight in Asperger Syndrome, I understand that perhaps she was glad when she said she was…

She was very rigid in her movements, and when she touched me she just grabbed me, almost violently. And I as a child I was afraid of her, especially when she wanted to touch me, or hug me, because she just
couldn’t hug at all. And her facial expression when she approached me was completely weird, which just made me more frightened.

She couldn’t keep a dialog, either she was silent and I or someone else talked, or she went on with long monologues.

She was completely naive, and had no way of telling whether someone was lying, or teasing her, or honest. She interpreted everything that people said literally.

I think she was of normal intelligence, but as a child I saw my mother as the dumbest dumb mother that anyone could possibly have. I see the tragedy in it all today, and I so much wished that she could show and
receive emotions, I would have wanted that so very much!

She dressed weird; with coats of thick cloth in weird colours. And she held her body and walked in a weird rigid way. I was ashamed of her, and when I was out with my friends and she happened to walk by and say hello to me I pretended not to hear her or know her. When I came home and she asked me why I didn’t say hello, if I didn’t see her, I was again ashamed. I was ashamed that I was ashamed, and had tons of guilt.

She always asked me how I felt. As a child I became annoyed over these questions everyday, and just yelled at her “Can’t you see that!”. Today I realize that she probably couldn’t. That she was
unable to see how I felt, that she was completely cut off from the feelings and emotions that the rest of us shared.

[My mother’s AS has affected me] profoundly! In almost all aspects, except: My dad kept the hold of our economy in the family, so I guess that this aspects was perhaps the only one that worked well. My mother had no sense of handling the household economy.

She was a complete loner, and sometimes accused us of saying things behind her back (a little paranoiac, but she is not suffering from paranoia).

I hope that I can contribute a little with my understanding of Asperger Syndrome in my mother, and of a two other people, men, that I have come to know later on in life that also has Asperger Syndrome. These two men have helped me a lot to understand how Asperger Syndrome affected my mother, and the reason why my mother acted as she did.

I also hope to share some understanding of these issues and problem with others. I understand today that my only brother also has a mild form of Asperger Syndrome, which meant that it was only me and my
father who were “normal”.

I have felt so completely alone with these feelings and insights that there is nothing else in the world I would want than to be able to share this with someone else who can understand it!

Tina’s summary

1. Why do you think your Mother has AS? ·             Echolalia of a type… she cannot be a passenger in a car without reading out all the signs along the way ·             Lacking in empathy ·             Intelligent but completely unable to understand sarcasm, irony and sometimes metaphor ·             Obsessive about routine – when my father had a stroke, she was totally thrown by the fact she had to go to the hospital every day, and couldn’t make her regular trip to town ·             Cannot drive to and from places without knowing the exact route in advance, preferably having been “chaperoned” the first two or three times, otherwise she gets lost. ·             Singleminded to the point of selfishness – she has her own routine and can’t understand if she stays with me she has to bend to my routine – she expects me to change to her routine, even after my father explains it to her two or three times. ·             Constantly interrupts my father when he is working but will lose her temper if he asks her a question while she is engaged in a task ·             I’ve always known she was “different”, but because she is from India I felt it was more a cultural thing.  But even though some of her sisters are very similar, I think that is probably because they have AS too.

There are lots more things, but when I sit down like this, to list them all seems petty.   2. What do you hope to get out of being a member of ASpar?  Just to talk about my feelings of guilt and anger especially about only finding this out at age 40.  Especially to help me with my feelings toward my “normal” father, who left most of the parenting to my mother even thoughshe was not a good parent – although I wasn’t abused, I was often confused.