Due to the volume of critique we receive, often repeating the same arguments, as a group our members have come up with the following standard reply.
This is a site for people who grew up with AS parents to tell their stories, so that other children of AS parents can finally find a place where they find understanding, healing and support. There are lots of other sites out there that talk about the positive sides of AS, and we agree with many of them. Yes, people with AS have been misunderstood and oppressed. Some of us have inherited some AS traits, so we know what it is like.
Throughout our lives, we turned to professionals for help, trying to escape the pain of having parents who were naive, obsessive, peseverative, socially excruciatingly embarassing, isolating, had short fuses, didn’t seem to be on the same planet as the rest of us, could not look after our physical or emotional needs, could not touch us in a normal way, and much more, consistent with a diagnosis of AS. Since AS was not in the textbooks, we were told, that we would be fine if we would just be a little more understanding and accommodating of our parents, who “loved us in their own way.” This is a variant of Cassandra syndrome. Before the psychiatric establishment woke up to the reality of AS, It was hard enough to be a Cassandra when you had a child with AS.
Imagine how hard it was to be a child Cassandra. We are still trying to get over it.
The purpose of ASpar is not to understand our parents. We already understand them. We have been covering for them and parenting them all our lives.
The purpose of ASpar is to find our voices, tell our stories, and through doing so, find integration and healing.
This is also a wakeup call to professionals. The next time a desperate child comes to you and they have AS parents, look for the problem in the parents as much as you look in the child.
There is now no excuse for not factoring AS as a possible cause of family dysfunction.
We will continue to respond to original comments that are not answered by the above. Comments that continue on the theme of “The problem lies with you, you should understand your parents more” will be ignored.
- Amanda Says:
February 12, 2008 at 2:06 pm e
I’m sorry that your mothers weren’t as affectionate and motherly as you would have liked them to be, but I’m sure they all were trying to do the best they could. Maybe it would help if you understood what they were thinking at the time. Here is an article written by a mother with AS: Not all parents with autism are “bad”, and it’s very destructive to these parents, myself being one of them, to perpetuate this stereotype. I hope you can all understand where your parents were coming from, forgive them, and get on with your lives.
February 12, 2008 at 6:41 pm e
This is a very common and understandable response from people with AS. The reality is that our group is dedicated to understanding and forgiving our parents and getting on with our lives. This is in our charter. However, most of us were too damaged by our experiences to get on with our lives. The prerequisite for healing was sharing our stories, finding out that we had not been alone, and that others had experienced what we had experienced. I personally now have a wonderful relationship with my mother as I have come to understand the pressures she was under. I also want to make clear that we are not “perpetuating stereotypes”. ASpar was the first place to start talking about this issue. We did not create stereotypes, ie caricatures drawn from other people’s experiences. We shared our real life stories, the raw material of our lives.
- Valerie Says:
February 14, 2008 at 12:30 am e
We are trying to get on with our lives, and you may or may not be aware of this, but the problem with having Asperger parents is they can’t take care of themselves. So, not only did we have to raise ourselves, we are surrogate parents to our parents. The other day, my mother couldn’t even figure out when she was sent new insurance information that the only thing that had changed was the insurer’s name. She had to have my sister tell her, then still wasn’t convinced, and so my sister had to call a representative of the insurer’s, put her on speaker phone, and have that woman tell her that yes, my sister was correct, only the name had changed. It is a huge challenge for us to find our way in life (because our parents gave so little direction, and to have to constantly go back and do the same for our parents.This is a forum for us. Those who were not happy having Asperger parents. We are not perpetrating stereotypes, we are expounding on our reality.Valerie
I had a couple of thoughts about this. First of all *all* parents are
doing the best they can, including alcoholic parents. There are many,
many groups out there for children of alcoholic parents, and no one
accuses them of vilifying alcoholic, or perpetuating negative
stereotypes. Adult children of alcoholics are allowed to have had
traumatic childhoods without being accused of being selfish, bitter,
traitorous, or being told to get over it and move on, because their
parents were doing the best they could.
But, more importantly, this list *isn’t about our parents*. It’s about
us, and what it was like growing up with AS parents, and what it’s like
to still have to deal with them on a daily basis. It’s about *our*
experiences, and having a place where we can discuss them. There is a
difference. It’s not about Aspies! Do you get the impression that
Aspies don’t get that?!
I read the website that the poster cited, and I had to wonder what her
kids were going to say when they grew up, because it really isn’t about
them at all, it’s all about how difficult it is to deal with kids when
you have AS. She even says that had she known ahead of time that she
had AS, she probably wouldn’t have had kids. If I were one of her kids,
I would have a pretty hard time reading something like that from my mother.
I get that Aspies have a hard time raising kids. The vast majority of
people who cause harm and trauma to other people are suffering
themselves. Those who abuse children were almost always abused
themselves. But we don’t ask their victims to feel sorry for them, or
say they should “forgive their parents and move on.” There seems to be
this particular myopia when it comes to AS, that all parents with AS
should be completely resolved of any responsibility for any damage they
might have done to their kids, because if we speak our truth we are
“perpetuating negative stereotypes” about them.
I think I’m ranting again. 😉 I guess what it boils down to for me is
that this list isn’t about AS parents, it’s about people with AS
parents, and what it’s like to be an NT child of AS parents. If Aspies
don’t like to hear about our experiences, I think they should go play in
somebody else’s sandbox.
I did find the Aspie mom’s website very interesting, and I think if you
read between the lines, it’s a textbook example of the difficulties of
being the child of Aspie parents. It’s, of course, written from the
mom’s point of view, but if you take the point of view of the child, and
read it that way, it raises some very interesting questions. She
clearly cannot interpret her kids’ emotional states, and her kids’ have
developed some coping skills that may or may not serve them later in
life. But the piece is all about *her* and how hard it is for *her* to
be a parent. It’s not at all about her kids. Which is sort of a “duh”
because she’s incapable of empathy, but it’s also a critical component
of parenting. She tries to say at the end that you can make up for
empathy with reason, and I guess that’s the $64,000 question. Can you
really? I’m not so sure . . . I guess it’s not outside the realm of
possibility, especially with good social and professional support but
it’s never going to happen if the conversation is cut off at the knees
because we’re not allowed to talk about the kids’ experience because
that’s “perpetuating stereotypes.”
In fact, as far as perpetuating stereotypes, it seems to me that the
“stereotypes” that we are talking about and the “typical symptom”
discussed on the website are the same. The judgment depends on who is
But, again, I think this is getting too much into trying to justify
ourselves, our experiences, and our feelings to Aspies. I think we need
to be careful about that. The purpose of this list isn’t to try to
convince Aspies that our experiences are valid, or that our world view
is a valid one. That ain’t gonna happen. As I understand it, we’re
here to decipher, interpret, and hopefully understand what happened to
us kids, and how it affects our lives, and then to see if we can shed
some of the coping strategies that no longer serve us, or at least
integrate the fractured parts of ourselves into a cohesive whole. Every
once in a while someone pops up and says, “You shouldn’t talk about this
stuff because Aspies have such a *hard* time being parents. You should
just forgive them and move on.” Yeah, no sh*t. I know they have a hard
time. I was there for the ride. But I really see this discussion as
irrelevant right now. It’s not my job to make them feel better about
raising their kids.
Sorry, so long.
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