Misunderstanding My Child With Special Needs

Today I had a break-through with my son Trace who is getting assessed for Asperger’s this upcoming month. Every day it’s the same thing. Power struggles with me and his dad, his brother, and arguing beyond my ability to have patience, often leading me back to the drawing board as a parent in learning how to cope and deal with Trace.

This morning it was the same as usual. Getting Trace out of bed is like pulling teeth. Asking him to eat breakfast, put on his shoes and coat, get his lunch kit so we can make his lunch before school, all of it is a huge struggle and conflict.  This leads to melt-downs, tantrums, verbal assaults from Trace with statements such as …

“I hate this day. Everyone is mad at me.”  or “You all don’t understand me. I just want you to listen…” all because we asked him to put on his shoes and he’s trying to do something else, deviating him from his own mental goals.


So there I was lying in bed, half asleep and listening to the power-struggles going on in the kitchen between Trace and Forgetful Dad. My anger was rising.  Meanwhile, my brain was processing the situation as I listened.  I finally got up and came into the kitchen, looked and Trace and I said…

“You need to stop manipulating the situation and do as daddy asked you.” >>> grabbing his shoes <<< “Now put on your shoes, it’s time for school. Look at the clock.”

Trace knows that when the big hand reaches the five on our clock in the kitchen or living room it means it’s time to go, with the small hand at the eight. Trace silenced himself and did as asked.  Then went off on how nobody listens and he started crying.  I ignored the tears and walked away, allowing him time to process things and the crying stopped.

I came back into the kitchen and Trace came up to me wanting a hug. Many people assume a child with Asperger’s because they have a lack of control of understanding emotions, don’t like to hug.  This isn’t true. For Trace and heck any kid, after arguing with their parents.  A hug is needed.  So of course I hugged him, asking…

“Do you know why mommy got angry with you?”  to which Trace shook his head with clear lack of understanding.  “I got angry because you tried to manipulate the situation with daddy. Do you know what manipulation means?”  He shook his head.  “Well take a guess,” I said.  “What do you think mommy means.”

Trace paused a moment, very calm and I could see he was thinking about things.  Finally he looked at me and he said…

“I manipulated the situation by trying to get daddy to do what I wanted instead of doing what daddy asked me because that is what I wanted.”

Trace just turned six years old.

I always knew my son was bright, beyond his age.  However in that moment when he clearly said exactly what he was doing and understood the word manipulation, knowing he was taking advantage of his father who has a brain injury and forgets from moment to moment, yet doesn’t act this way with me.  It hit me!  I’ve been misunderstanding my Asperger’s child.

I have always known as a mom that Trace has difficulties, with his emotions, dealing with others, following rules that make no sense to him.  And I have been approaching learning about Asperger’s from an emotional stand-point.  Trying to help Trace cope and understand, rather than gaining understanding myself as I often find myself torn between what is normal Asperger’s behavior and symptoms and what is just Trace being a six-year-old little boy, learning to find his way.

This video helped me see and understand a lot of myths surrounding kids with Asperger’s and the wrongful misconceptions that teachers and parents both have in misunderstanding an Asperger’s child.

For Trace everything is about control.  That is why he’s so good at school and so bad at home.  The control is easier at school, especially in kindergarten.  At home things are all over the place. Hubs has a brain injury and often forgets, I am dealing with bipolar depression on a daily basis.  His older brother feels left out often and like he doesn’t belong.  And, our lives are not always led by schedules and rules that incorporate a foundation Trace can live by.

I know things need to change in our house.  I know we need to do things differently, and help Trace feel in control but at the same time follow the rules that are put in place by me to help guide and protect him as he learns to become who he is.  Today enlightened me that my child is capable of communicating his thoughts and feelings, just from a different angle.

Once we talked, Trace gave me a hug. I told him to have a good day at school. I kissed him and he left.  I hope when he gets home, he is in a good mood and that his day goes alright.  I hate that every day is struggle for him. I hate that he suffers emotionally with a lack of being able to understand so many things kids his age already get.  I hate that he feels something is wrong with him and he’s only six.

This is a road we travel. This is the hand God dealt me and I’m still in the game. I’m still playing.  And today, I got a full house and laid my cards to win the hand.  Tomorrow however, the dealer could beat me.  But that’s okay.  I’m up for the challenge. Because no matter what happens.  I’m playing the game for Trace and win or lose.  As long as I have a chance to put my cards on the table.

That’s all that matters!


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  1. I want to thank you for posting this story. My daughter is 7 and has a horrible time at home and school. Her verbal assaults are far worse than what Trace throws out (assuming you didn't just mention the ones necessary to give the reader the idea lol) and her "meltdowns" are often aggressive in nature both at school and home.

    It's very difficult for me to wrap my head around how their brains work but, it's helpful when I can relate to every third word in someone else's story. I too have had to think of new and inventive ways to have a breakthrough day and they are very few and far between but well worth the effort.

    1. Hi Rhonda, thanks for commenting. I'm sorry your daughter is having such a hard time. Verbal assaults are not nice. Trace is probably mild compared to many other kids. Sometimes I don't tell everything he says because I'm embarrassed and it's hard to deal with. You aren't alone. There are some great groups on FB for kids with Asperger's as well. I hope things get better and remember – One day at a time.

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