Our daughter went to boarding school in England when she was 10 going on 11. There, she was bullied for a number of years. Not interested in clothes, make-up or boys, she was marginalised and attributed with being either ‘weird’ or ‘gay’. The fact that she was small in stature, wore glasses and was Chinese didn’t help. Her dislike of of sports made the years of compulsory sports a nightmare.
Going through adolescence, I was aware that more and more she recoiled from touch – including my touch. She stiffened, flinched and pulled away when hugged. That was tough. At the age of 13, her school report suggested that her social skills were lacking. My anxieties increased. Hiking with a friend, I heard of her experience of taking her son to an educational psychologist. He had just been diagnosed as having learning difficulties. I gulped; there were similarities. I could no longer deny; a moment of choice presented itself.
Finding the courage to ask for support, a challenging emotional process for us all, a voyage into the unknown, our daughter was diagnosed as having Asperger Syndrome at the age of 14. The immediate questions were – to tell or not, who to tell (child, school, brother, extended family, peers…), how to pass on information, how much information, then what? We stumbled through. We included our daughter in the process and asked what she wanted.
For our daughter, it was a relief to have her “difference” explained, to understand more about her self. Now, it all made sense. She tells me that having AS is part of who she is, and she wouldn’t change it.
Some parents choose not to have their children tested because they don’t want them to be limited in any way by a label. The fact is we are all ‘different’, each unique, and, at the same time, all the same. There is no separation.
Where might you stand?
If you feel concerned that your child is ‘different’, you can explore why that bothers you, and, change your thinking. The brain has an amazing ability to rewire itself based on our experiences.