Saturday, December 11, 2010

Caring About Others

     I wanted to take a moment and write about a wonderful experience that brought tears to my eyes.  One that I will remember forever. 
     In order to understand how amazing this particular moment was to me, you would need to realize the history and rarity of this event.  Before Kyle received the diagnosis of Asperger's, I never really thought much to the fact that he was oblivious to other people's emotions.  I never expected Kyle to be there for me emotionally, that is not something a child should be responsible for.  The child shouldn't feel responsible for making you feel happy when you are sad, et cetera.  Just like you wouldn't place your marital or financial burdens on your child, you wouldn't place your emotional burdens on them as well. 
     I assumed that the reason why Kyle didn't care about other people's emotions was because he never was expected to respond to our emotions.  Apparently, this isn't the case.  Neurotypical children are aware of other people's emotions and will offer a hug or some gesture to help someone that is crying or upset.  It really became apparent to me the severity of Kyle's lack of empathy when the two younger ones showed empathy at a very early age without any coaching.  The little ones would even get upset when characters on TV would be upset.  This was a wake up call to me.  So we set out to work with Kyle on this.
     Sometimes it can be so frustrating when you work to the point of exhaustion and feel as if you are getting nowhere.  You see the end in sight, but you aren't getting any closer and you aren't seeing any progress.  This was exactly how I was feeling.  One day I saw a glimpse of the light at the end of the tunnel.  I will never forget that moment.
     My husband usually takes Kyle to school in the morning on his way to work, but I had an appointment first thing so I dropped him off on the way.  The appointment was regarding Kyle.  My husband stayed home with the little ones.  The night before, we explained to Kyle that in the morning things would be a little different.  Kyle, being one that dislikes change and is very rigid, we knew that we would have to explain why and how, et cetera.  It didn't go over too bad.  I explained to him that I had an appointment in the morning and that I would drop him off on the way.  After he tried to come up with many different ways that he could still go about his morning the same way, he finally accepted it.
     The next morning came and things went very smoothly.  I dropped him off at school.  When he got out, he turned around and looked at me and said, "Good luck with your appointment, Mom."  He said it with such compassion that reliving it now is still bringing tears to my eyes.  Other parents may take this quality in their children for granted, and I probably do with the little ones.  But for Kyle and I, this was better than winning a gold medal in the Olympics.


  1. I know how you feel Liz. things like that melt my heart. When kaya says how was day mom or dad. or have fun at nurseing school. it melt my heart how sweet she can be.

  2. I totally agree. It is moments like these, that are so few and far between that sit back and think that it's all in my head that there is anything different about my 10yr old daughter. How can she be so oblivious to the needs of others most of the time and the roll out a gem like what you have explained. It gives you hope to celebrate but also makes you wonder why sometimes she nails it & seems so together but then that switch goes off in her head & there is nothing. My daughter was at work with me on a particularly stressful day (not caused by her for a change) and after things had calmed down I realized she had written on a sticky note and placed it on my computer screen. It said 'You can do it mum!' so innocent and simple and so clearly in tune with what I needed to hear at that moment of stress. That note now sits pride of place on my desk and reminds me every day that despite how hard each day can be 'I can do it!'