Sunday, January 30, 2011

Practicing Patience

So, kids with Asperger's don't do well with waiting. For anything. Nathan is no exception. If Nathan asks me to get him something to drink, I'll say, "Give me a minute, buddy." 10 seconds later, he'll repeat. "MOM. I'd like a drink please." If I don't get up right away, he'll continue to ask me until I'm worn down like a grindstone.

This happens on a daily basis. The worst time is after I've sat down on the couch after getting us settled from coming home and the minute I take a sip of my beloved Diet Coke Nathan will chirp, "Mom, I'm hungry!" I get up in semi frustration, not having one drop of Diet Coke pass my lips. 

I see this with my ARC kids, too. They want you to do everything for them, right now. It's because it's what they are used to. They're not accustomed to waiting or not having everything done for them. It's not that the parents are bad, as I am guilty of this, too, a degree. It's that it does tend to be easier to do these things for your children. I've been trying to teach Nate to be more self suffient, to have him be more organized instead of doing or packing things, "just in case". I feel he needs to know how to do those things on his own. 

A few weeks ago, we had a snow day (we've had a lot of snow days!) where I could take Nate with me to the Y. He didn't want to go swimming, which I wasn't too worried about as he had his DSi with him. When we got to the pool, he didn't want to use his DSi. I was thinking, "Is he just bored with his games?" I almost got into an argument with him. I didn't want him to be bored, because boredom causes him to be miserable and he becomes the physical manifestation of a Salvador Dali painting. He whines and moans like an ancient farm tractor.  I was insisting he use his DS and he said, "No, Mom, I am practicing." I was very confused. "Practicing for what?" I demanded. "I'm just practicing, Mom."

I didn't fight him on it. I let him make that choice. And he sat. And sat. And sat. He didn't complain or make any huffy noises like he normally would do when he's bored. He just asked me how much time he had left. He seemed to asked in 15 minute increments. I was still very confused, but he wasn't beyond emo miserable, so I didn't question him about it.

On the drive to his Dad's house that night, he did the same thing. In the car, where he's on the DSi like a fiend, just looked out the window at the cars whizzing by. I asked him again what he was doing, "Mom, I'm practicing." I asked him if he wanted to listen to music. He agreed and he put on his favorite CD in our car, The Cure Mixed Up. (It's true, he loves it. Especially song 6 "The Forest") He continued to gaze out the window. He would ask me how long it would take to get to his Dad's house. I told him about an hour. He said, "Okay." At those 15 minute intervals, he would ask, "How much time left?" Then it dawned on me.

He's teaching himself to be patient. 

This was not something that we had talked about doing, or that I had planned on instilling in him in the immediate future. He has always struggled with the concept of time. He still struggles with boredom and the frustrations that it brings for him.

But this was SELF GUIDED. This was SELF STARTED. And did I mention that he's 8? I cannot even tell you what a huge accomplishment this is for him. I don't even think he know's how big it is. That does not matter, truly. What matters is that he's doing it and he's doing it so very well.

He has continued this trend. The usual trips in the car where we wouldn't say anything for an hour have been replaced with alot of CD music, NPR and a little conversation. It's been a welcomed change in our dynamic as mother and son.
Even his therapist was impressed with his progress.

So when you think that your child will never do things on their own, they will come out and just out right surprise you. I look forward to the surprises Nathan has in store for me. 


  1. WOW!
    can he come over and teach my kids? ALL of them lack this skill.
    Truly awesome.

  2. @Alysia: I may have to have Nathan hold a workshop! LOL! I may have a new business on my hands. :D I hope all is well with you and your family!