When people find out Nathan has Aspergers we get a wide range of replies.
“Are you sure?”
“What is it?”
“But he is so smart!”
“But he seems just fine!”
Aspergers is a funny thing because it does not affect the way Nathan looks and we have days where it does not affect the way he behaves.
But then there are days like yesterday and today where living with Aspergers is more real, more evident, and definitely harder to deal with.
Yesterday was a gorgeous day and the sun was shining. We went to a Healthy Lifestyles Expo. Anyone who knows us knows this thing is true: The Tidball’s love a good deal and we love FREE! They serve a healthy (free!) lunch at the Expo and have vendors that give away chocolate and cookies, pens, notepads, reusable shopping bags, and magnets. Nathan did pretty well but being around crowds tends to make him anxious. He does not worry or fret but he gets upset and whiny and we know he is uncomfortable. We didn’t stay too long and Nathan did well.
You have to keep constant vigil on him because he has a tendency to wander off or to daydream and not follow where we are going.
This morning started off with a tantrum. Chris made breakfast and announced he was making fried eggs. Nathan thought this meant eggs with French fries so he freaked out and ran to his room and cried for a good long time. We couldn’t calm him down until I said, “Nathan, calm down and come eat or you can’t come with us to the egg hunt today.”
He complied but only ate parts of his egg. He said, “This part of my egg is hard and I am not eating it!”
Chris said, “It’s not hard. That’s bologna!”
Nathan, always literal, replied, “No. I said it’s a hard egg not bologna, dad.”
Next we went to Branch Creek community church for an Easter Egg hunt. This place is huge! There were so many people there. They had everything indoors due to the rain. Everything indoors was great to avoid the rain but a nightmare for Nathan who was being bumped and crowded at every turn. It took about ten minutes for Nathan to get agitated. He began to whine and cry and moan and complain. Chris asked him, “What is bothering you?”
Nathan said all the people and the noise were bothering him. Before his diagnosis we would have thought he was being cranky and whiney and not having fun. It would have frustrated us as parents as well.
Now we understand. Now we “get” it.
Chris kept him close and held his hand and I rubbed his head. He likes when I rub his head. Nathan asked to leave several times but it wouldn’t have been fair to Emma to miss out on all the fun.
Nathan did break down in tears but we calmed him down and got him to stop by telling him if he wanted his face painted he had to stop or else they wouldn’t be able to paint his face. He stopped and let them paint his face.
We didn’t stay much longer but the time we did stay was spent trying to keep him calm and reassure him that he was going to be all right.
Most of our time spent at activities and family outings are spent keeping Nathan calm and in line and trying to avoid tears and tantrums. Sometimes it works and sometimes like today he is just overwhelmed and you have to deal with his breakdowns as they come.
Emma had a great time and patiently waited in lines and played the games and helped herself to plenty of candy. She high-fived the Easter bunny and held hands when she was supposed to.
Chris and I often question whether or not we should take Nathan to these sorts of things. He always ends up frustrated, upset, and anxious, and pretty much always ends up in tears.
But when we ask him if he had fun he says he did….. sometimes I think Nathan does have fun but gets easily overwhelmed. Sometimes I think it’s less fun for Chris and I as we constantly deal with having to keep him calm, talk him through situations, and comfort him when the tears come.
We have also realized that Nathan finds electronics soothing. Whether that means letting him play on his computer, play his V-Smile, or even watch TV. That is how he decompresses. And after a day like today I think we all need a little decompressing.
After the egg hunt we went to Nana's for lunch and a visit.