What's the toughest part of your job? Dealing with difficult clients? Working with an annoying colleague? The daily commute? Everyone has something that makes them want to scream...or run. Parenting is no different. Raising another human being takes patience, wisdom, some skill, and a dash of "moxie." Yet what some parents might say are the tough things are actually quite manageable compared to what other parents deal with regularly.
These are the parents who:
- Welcome strangers into their homes to teach skills and challenge their young children for hours every day.
- Juggle weekly speech therapy and tutoring appointments along with another full-time job (the one that is office-based).
- Clean out their 401Ks and bank accounts or take out another mortgage to pay for their child's needs.
- Have to make advance preparations for something as routine as a trip to the supermarket.
It's herculean parenting for sure, but believe it or not, these aren't the things that make this job tough.
What Makes Parenting Tough
For parents of children or teenagers with Asperger's Syndrome or other socially-based needs, living with your "antennae up" is a daily occurrence. But what's really difficult is when you are faced with having to explain (to those who need to know) what their child's diagnosis means while trying to protect them from the assumptions that many make.
We group people together all the time. All seniors wear caps and gowns. Computer programmers are smart. People from California love the beach. We make assumptions based on our frames of reference and often information that is far from accurate. Or we do it just because it's what we "think" vs. what we know. Yet here are the problems with it all...
- Categorizing people is risky at best and discriminatory at worst.
- It assumes things that cannot nor should not be assumed.
- And without proven data, it lumps everyone in any category together, eliminating the fact that every person, with or without a diagnosis, is an individual.
Sure there may be similarities in certain situations - e.g. children with ADHD may have trouble focusing. But not *every* child or teen has the same issues because they hold a similar diagnosis. And a diagnosis alone does not mean that certain situations will develop or happen *because* of the diagnosis.
Parents of children with Asperger's Syndrome know that their children face a daily world ripe with social situations and expectations that may be beyond their understanding or reach. They also know that their children are bright, sensitive, creative, and move on to achieve in the worlds of academia, business, and beyond. Descriptions may help to bring understanding, but I don't know a single parent who would want to "define" their child by their looks, size, GPA, or diagnosis. Parenting is tough enough. Why make it tougher.