“We all did really well, because we are all friends.”

The title of this blog comes from a statement made by my neurotypical daughter after her dance recital dress rehearsal several weeks ago.

She and her class of 11 6-7-year-olds had just finished rehearsing and she wanted to know how I thought they had done. I have learned how to be bit neurotypical with her, i.e., I have learned to not tell everything I am thinking, but to put a positive spin on most things, unless hearing the absolute truth is necessary for her long-term success in life.

So I replied, truthfully, that I thought it was the best they had ever done, and that, almost truthfully, I noticed that she only seemed to be confused at one section towards the end of the dance (really, there were a few other places – but she seemed to get back on track faster in those places, so I decided to just keep my mouth shut).

I wanted to go into a typically-Aspergian detailed description of every good and bad point of the routine, but knew that would not be helpful at this late hour, so I just said that I thought everyone seemed to do really well, and something about only a few getting lost at a few places, just like her (I just can’t blatantly lie all of the time, and wanted to make her feel like she had done just as well as everyone else – which she pretty much had), so it was really good.

Her response to my assessment was the title statement. From what I have learned from observation and anecdote, I guess that is a very typical attitude among neurotypical girls of that age (maybe of all age? – anyone with insight into this can let me know…).

For me, that is the strangest statement in the world. How does being friends have anything to with how well you all did? I mean, if they had gotten together and drilled each other on the routine, OK, then I could understand. But they didn’t. They worked hard in class for 45 minutes once a week, and very seldom did I see them help each other out. The helping was pretty much left to the teachers.

Also, my daughter never even saw the other girls outside of dance class. So to say that they were all friends seemed a stretch. Aquaintances and classmates? Yes. But friends? 

I found her assessment incomprehensible, but very touching.

I think I should try to find ways to try to think a bit like that. It would  make life sweeter, I think. Though I don’t think it will be easy for me to do: )

Back to the beginning: Being fearful of new things

In my first blog, titled, “Where to Begin,” there is a list that I said I would give insights into later. This is a bit later than I had intended, but here it goes.

Number 1 on that list was: Fearful of new things.

Because we are not good at processing new information quickly, a new thing can be very intimidating to us. We know that we may figure out how to deal with this new situation before we become overwhelmed. And once overwhelmed, all useful brain and motor function ceases, as it does with any individual. 

Another key part of being scared of new things, is that we know that we are not good at motor planning. Motor planning is the ability to get youir body to do what you want it to do. We know that if this new thing starts to do something that makes us uncomfortable, we probably are not going to be able to get our bodies to do what we want fast enough to keep us from being overwhelmed.

An example of this would be my son’s fear of learning how to pour his own cereal. He knew that there was a large risk of cereal spilling, and he knew that if that started to happen, he probably wouldn’t be able to take the necessary actions to stop the mess until it had become big and overwhelming.

Eventually, because he was tired out being outdone by his little sister, he decided that he would try and pour the cereal. Sure enough, as the bowl started to overflow, all he could do was watch the cereal pour all over the table and cry for help. 

He wasn’t able to decide quickly enough what to do about the spilling cereal. And even as he realized that he should stop pouring the cereal, he wasn’t sure how to make his body do that, and couldn’t tell his body to move because he felt so overwhelmed by the mess.

An example in my life as an adult will have to follow, as it is time to get the kids up for school.

Where to Begin

While working around the house Monday afternoon, I turned on the TV, which happened to be tuned to Tyra Banks. Not being a particularly fashion conscious individual, I had not thought I would enjoy this show when it first aired several years ago, but I have found that she covers some pretty interesting topics some days, so I decided to see what she was talking about.

Her topic was how parents can build self-esteem in their children. Hmm, I wasn’t sure that I was going to agree with the findings she presented, but it couldn’t hurt to check it out. Who knows, I might be surprised.

So I sat and watched the first several minutes while finishing up my lunch. Then I left the TV on as I went about my business, catching bits and pieces throughout the show.

I didn’t come away with any great parenting tips, but what the expert said at the end of the show really struck me.

The expert gave a list of warning signs that you should look for to see if your child has low self-esteem.

1. Fearful of trying new things
2. Socially isolated
3. Easily frustrated
4. Acts as though nothing bothers them
5. Easily swayed by the opinions of others

What I found fascinating about this list is that all but the last point are common traits of people with Asperger’s Syndrome.

As someone with Asperger’s Syndrome, I don’t generally suffer from low self-esteem. I have those other traits for very different reasons. I think that is true for others with Asperger’s, as well.

I’ll talk about each of those traits in my upcoming blogs. Talk to you soon!