Just as I was ready to crown myself Queen Aspie Mom, marveling at the great strides my son has made in this neruotypical world, the puberty monster knocked on his door. With it came the kind of stuff you just can’t talk about in polite company that needed to be addressed. I am not easily phased. This was enough to bring me to my knees, with yet another harsh lesson that ignorance is not always bliss.
I have managed to figure out by now that the standard kid regimen is never enough. Much to Noah’s chagrin, I made certain that he was well educated on the dynamics of puberty. It wasn’t a pleasant experience for me either, but I knew that it was important. In true Aspie fashion, I explained every minute detail I could think of. That was the easy part.
Once the puberty monster knocks on their door, there are all kinds of smells that come with it, and none were pleasant that I could tell. Coordinating with acne makes it extra special. Amazingly, these things seemed to go un-noticed by my son.
Once I pointed out to him that he STANK, it wasn’t difficult incorporating decent hygiene into his morning routine. As for the acne, he knew this could be part of puberty, so he didn’t see it as a problem, more of a side-effect. Where this is true, he also needed to be taught a few extra steps to keep it relatively under control.
The devil is in the details
We have resorted to chemical warfare for his acne, so I also had to ensure he was using these products properly. When I questioned why he was smacking his wet face with his hands, he informed me that the instructions on the label said to ‘pat dry.’ He did not realize that meant with a towel.
As long as he knows what to do, and it is part of his daily routine, he is fine. Noah likes to put post-it notes on the bathroom mirror to remind him of what he needs to do. Once he did it for a while, the post-it notes were no longer necessary. Once it is part of his routine, he is compelled to do it, the same way, every day.
I learned when Noah came back from Boy Scout camp three days later in the same underpants, that it did not stick so well outside of the house. He looked like a swamp monster with fur on his teeth, inventing a smell. Once again, my boy thwarted my best efforts. He needed to be taught that these skills can be applied outside of his house, and establish a routine for that as well.
Noah’s first ‘romantic’ encounter was in sixth grade when a girl asked him in the hall at school if he was single. After years of ingraining in him to leave an uncomfortable situation if he could, he did exactly that. He evacuated. He was terrified of girls, he didn’t know what to do, so he just left this poor girl wondering what could be so bad to warrant that behavior without saying a word.
In the heat of my own frustration I told him the good news was, she would likely never bother him again, because she probably thought he was a total jerk. This was indeed good news to him, and he was completely lost as to how that made him a jerk. So again, we learn from trial and error, how he should properly address the situation, and why.
After that, Noah having a girlfriend registered in my mind as extremely far-fetched…until another girl asked that same question his freshman year of high school. Against all odds, he now has a girlfriend. This opened up a whole new can of worms.
Sex ed at school is barely adequate for any kid, and it is no where close to enough for an Aspie. Teens are often left to their own devices to figure this out because we are too squeamish to properly address it. We place unrealistic demands on them, expecting that somehow will be enough. Well, it isn’t, especially not for an Aspie.
I thought I had it covered elaborating on the consequences of said actions, Noah was duly petrified. As it turns out, it was much more than the obvious stuff that needed to be addressed.
Enough is not enough
Inflamed by even the notion of Asperger’s being connected to the Sandy Hook incident, I started researching Asperger’s and criminology. What I found completely floored me. There are an alarming number of Aspies being labeled as sex offenders, especially in relation to child pornography.
They are not actually sexual deviants, they aren’t being properly educated on what is appropriate and what is not. They are turning to the internet, which is traceable, looking for something relatable or closer to their age, to try and learn about sexual relations. Not only does that have detrimental legal ramifications, what they are learning is a flagrant mis-representation of an intimate relationship.
They are doing ‘unmentionable’ things to pleasure themselves at times or in places they shouldn’t be. Whether we want them to do it or not, they need to know specifically where and when they can. Yes, I just went there, and you should too. They are human beings with biological urges that should not be ignored. This can be overlooked with an Aspie who doesn’t always emote in an expected way. Just because they don’t show it, doesn’t mean they don’t feel it.
I don’t want to find out from a cop knocking on my door that my son is seeking out bad information in places he shouldn’t. Whether I think he would do that is irrelevant. I highly doubt if the parents of many of those Aspies saw that coming. Some of them were forced to move because of unyielding sex offender laws. It was another hard lesson in getting over myself, and proactively inserting a Murphy’s Law repellant.
You should insert your own moral beliefs as well. They should be in addition to, not instead of, proper education. Here is a dissertation written by a law student regarding Asperger’s Syndrome and the Special Case of Child Pornography. If this doesn’t convince you, I don’t know what will. If you just can’t bring yourself to address this, get somebody else to, like a therapist, and discuss your own moral beliefs and expectations after the deed is done.
As the parent of an Aspie, it is never safe to assume anything. I am continuously reminded if it is not presented verbally in a straight forward manner, I have no right to assume Noah ‘gets’ it. I incorrectly assumed girls weren’t going to be an in the picture for a while. Wham, I’m on a mission to build a better boyfriend, or at least one that can pay attention to things that he never notices. I want him to know how to properly treat a girl. I don’t see that happening from porn, and I don’t ever want him to feel like he has to resort to that to learn anything.
Motivated by Holly Robinson Peete’s inspiring blog post about her son and the challenges of puberty , I never felt more like I could relate. It is a humbling experience to say the least. When I’m ready to pat myself on the back, something else kicks me in the rear. It is an on-going adventure in extreme parenting.