My Children Turned into “Monsters”
I have three children, two sons and one daughter. My sons both have Asperger’s Syndrome. Although it is no longer an official diagnosis in the United States, we still use it in Norway. My boys were diagnosed in 2010 and 2012, when they were 10 and 8 years old.
I am very happy to report that they both are doing fine at the moment, but it has been hard to reach this point, for us parents and for the boys and their sister who was diagnosed in 2009 with mild cerebral palsy.
Having children on the spectrum has caused us a lot of frustration, a lot of uncertainty, and a lot of grief and anger. We have experienced the whole emotional spectrum. Sometimes I feel as though I have been blessed and cursed with all of the emotions that my sons seem to lack.
Before my children received their diagnoses, I was seen by my parents as a “drama queen”, as someone who didn’t like being a mother, or as someone who shouldn’t have had kids in the first place if it was so tough to parent them. I was told that my children were just kids and that nothing was wrong with them despite the fact that their school teachers complained about their interactions with others or lack thereof.
But on that day in August 2010 when my oldest son received his diagnosis, all of this changed. All of a sudden, according to my parents, my son turned into a monster.
They didn’t actually use the word “monster”, but to us as parents it felt like they were suggesting that he was a monster, given that they considered him to be a normal kid the day prior to his diagnosis, and then the next day, they believed that he was nearly impossible to be around.
Of course, we didn’t see this shift. The boy was exactly the same as ever before, but we had finally received confirmation that we as parents were not insane. We were not “drama queens” or “drama kings”. We were not bad at parenting. We just had a boy with Asperger’s.
For us as a family, the pieces finally fit. But there were some leftover pieces.
My parents and my brother, who had always put my parenting skills down, now didn’t know what to say. So, they withdrew themselves from our lives. Our belief is that if they can’t accept my children and my family for who we are, then my family is better off without them in our lives. As parents to three children with special needs, we can create our own drama..
Cecilie Aslaksen, a mother of 3 children (two boys with Asperger’s and one girl with mild cerebral palsy) lives in Norway where she makes a living out of helping other parents with children on the spectrum.
The views expressed in this paper are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent the views of the NLM Family Foundation.