As I write this post, I have a lot of feelings that I don’t quite know what to do with. I feel sad, angry…confused. I know my parents love me and were just trying to make a happy life for me, but all I went through pierces my heart. It hurts and burns but if it heals, it will be a beautiful piercing. By now, ‘you are probably thinking, “oh my gosh what is this post going to be about?’ I have attempted to capture my feelings and thoughts during the major things that my parents did to me to get rid of my Asperger’s Syndrome symptoms…and thus make me more socially acceptable.
Growing up with Asperger’s syndrome involved a lot of discipline and medicine. It was the early 2000’s-the mainstream, popular, go to, mental health model was to mitigate my Asperger’s symptoms and to blend in with normal kids. In America, Natural medicine and exercise were very very underground, if not non-existent and unknown. Then, to make matter worse, there was not the philosophy of being yourself and accepting everyone’s weird quirks. Autism knowledge barely existed nor any mental health awareneness. ….SO… I grew up, taught to overcome my Asperger’s, that is, to get rid of my flappy hands…or my hyperactivity… or my obsessive passionate monologues…or the way I dressed.
My tantrums, on the other hand, I get it.. they had to be fixed. I wanted to fix my tantrums, but I had no control. Okay enough back story. Let me narrate, or attempt to narrate my experience with discipline and medicine (but in this post I I will only discuss discipline). First. A backstory on my tantrums.
…which brings me to discuss…
Tantrums: A real life Hulk
Three men carry my toddler body out the door as I scream I do not want to leave. I remember this discipline vividly. It was one of the few tantrums I had in public (but boy when I had them they were bad!). I remember that vividly. It was because usually when my mom says we gotta go home it takes like a few more minutes… or a half hour, because, well, adults end up talking. I was having fun with my cousins and NOW when my mom said we had to go, there was not this leeway, we had to go, THAT MINUTE!! I remember all the rage I had at this and I couldn’t stop it. My dad and three other guys in my family had to restrain my limbs as I tried kicking and punching…but I remember being touched like this just made me more angry.
It was like I was the hulk. Certain smells, someone touching me, or just sensory overload, my persona faded away into a beast of rage. It was like a beast hijacked my body and started raging. However, I always managed to control my rage in public, but at home I yelled, scream and threw fits. Home was my punching bag for what I could not do in public.
A big take away is that I could NOT control my tantrums, in fact i could not control the little actions in my bad behavior. I did not have the reason, knowledge, or support I needed. This a big theme in this post. In fact if you take away anything in the post…take that:
I cannot control my actions.
Despite my lack of control, psychiatrists advised my mom to discipline me and be more stern as well as give me medicine..and so that is what happened.
My mom mainly resorted to discipline to correct my behavior, and she tried just about every form of discipline in the book. She tried taking my valued toys away, hitting me, yelling at me, locking me in my room but nothing worked. When I wanted something I was determined, and when I was in a tantrum, I was unstoppable and invincible. I had STRENGTH.
My childhood was full of me being punished however, and it was grim and dark. I did not mean to misbehave. That was the thing. I did not want to, but sometimes it just came out. A lot of these memories I lock away in my mind and it is hard to confront them. The punishment and being out of control of my actions…are both scary things. People do not want to be out of control. And..I wanted love and acceptance but it felt like no one could understand… so they could not accept. ☹
Some of the things I would be yelled at and punished for were:
- Yelling at and throwing fits when my friends and I had disagreements or conflicts (like a friend cheated or me being accused of cheating)
- Misbehaving in public: yelling inside, doing something out of the norm (like sit unlady like in a skirt).
Whenever I misbehaved like this, my mom would belittle me and poor out her negativity on my behavior. She yelled how could I be so dumb, oblivious, or mean. Then proceed to say that my aunts and uncles, or whoever witnessed my god forsaken behavior, think I am a brat and that I should be ashamed of myself and that I am a demon child for my behavior.
The thing was, I did not mean to do these things. I did not want to misbehave, and especially did not want to be disciplined. Looking back at it now, I knew that something had to be done with the conflicts so I would not get walked over, but I did not know how to do it in an appropriate way. I was only having a human response in the only way my brain knew how-to throw fits and yell. In my toddler mind, however, I tried so hard not to be punished and to ‘behave’ …yet I always ended up failing. It put so much negativity and distrust in me because I felt like I did not have control over my actions. That would mean, I could completely mess up just like that and sabotage a friendship or team-ship without even knowing it or being conscious of it! (which is just the basis of social anxiety!)
- A lot of times I thought I was being myself and behaving, but I was met with hitting, screaming, or being locked in my room.
LOOKING BACK NOW….
Everyone assumed I should know how to handle conflicts and control my emotions. So my behavior must be on purpose, but this was not the case. I felt out of control and lacking knowledge, and no one guided me on what I should have done, except that what i did was wrong. It is inuitive-and it should have been for me.
Consequently, I could not stick up for myself properly. When I was at school, my tantruming froze, however and I was just not comfortable there. I felt like I wasn’t home so I could not show my tantrums. So, I let everyone walk on me and bully me.
Nevertheless, growing up with Asperger’s when there is not enough awareness and knowledge of ASD is a battle. I love my mom, and I do not criticize her or blame her because she spent all her efforts trying to get help for me and she just wanted a happy life for me. Becoming a new parent there is already so much to learn, and the parents are blind. There lies tons of knowledge on raising kids in the library; We have done this (raising kids) literally for a million years. But autism in a society that has high norms and expectations bthat is new as having high expectations and social norms is fairly new! So… The poor new parents fight the Aspie kid, the parents fight the school for proper treatment, accommodations, and to punish the bullies, and may even fight society to ensure a kid employment and a happy life.