I would imagine that every parent of a teenager begins to feel a disconnectedness with their child, but as a parent of a teen with Asperger’s, I think this can be even more challenging. These are three simple steps that I think help make a a difference.
1. Listen carefully-Make a conscious effort to keep from pretending that you’re listening and actually do it. I will be the first to admit, I need work in this area!
It’s hard to “follow” my son’s lead in a conversation. His efforts are usually very one-sided, and his communication skills are generally lacking. He’s got a great sense of humor, but his timing is usually off. I have to make an effort to not care and soak up his humor, even if it’t the worst possible time. When he wants to talk, he only ever wants to talk about what he’s interested in, which is usually something I know nothing about. On the flip side, If I want to connect with him, I have to become interested in his choice of topic. So I will listen when he tells me about that commercial I’ve seen 45 times. Again. Because if I don’t, the chance to make a connection will be gone in an instant.
2. Do your homework-Take 15 minutes out of your day to learn something about your teen. What are those funny pictures he’s always telling you about? Find some of your own funny memes, and text them to him. Connect on his level and on his playing field. If I tag my son in a picture on Facebook, it never finds it’s way to his timeline. But, a few days ago I sent him an image of sand multiplied by 250X. He loved it! A “mom and me” picture? Notsomuch. A random scientific fact? Yes, please. Google is your best friend. Use it!
3. Ask questions-It can be hard for an Aspie teen to make conversation. Being a teenager is awkward enough, and feeling like you’re never on the same page as everyone else is frustrating. I can see that my son struggles to make a connection sometimes, and I hate it. Instead of waiting for your child to spark up a conversation, take the lead by asking questions. Something as simple as “What’s your favorite food?” will spark an opportunity for you and your teen to interact. The more random, the better!
Honey, what’s your favorite food?
I’m just curious. I should know your favorite food.
He answers with a question, What’s yours?
Crab legs!, I tell him with certainty.
“Don’t give me that crab! Now, what’s really your favorite food?”
Puns are his favorite thing!
Do your child’s needs interfere with your ability to connect?
How do you handle the challenge ?
Want tips on how to make the Back-to-School transition easier for your Aspie child? Be sure to read my guest post at Childswork on 9/5!