When ASD Kidnaps Family Fun

This isn’t a real chipper post. Skip it if you’re down. But I have a feeling I’m not the only parent feeling this way, so I thought I might as well post and perhaps someone will feel seen and know they’re not alone in surviving the emotional storms that parenting a child on the spectrum can bring.

I love my child. But I do not love when ASD kidnaps the fun I expected to have as a family because it will not allow him to process emotions the way a typical child can. I just wanted to sit and watch Enchanted as a family and laugh together this evening. Not even 15 minutes into the movie, and he was alternating between raging (“I HATE this movie! I WANT IT STOPPED!”) and darting frantically in fear because he cannot deal with the big emotions–lots of anxiety– he feels due to not knowing what to expect, and things being “not right” (strange/make believe, someone not following rules, being unkind, etc.)

I am thankful he is a very empathetic child. That’s one of his superpowers. But a lot of times the intensity of his feelings really complicates family bonding time. We shut off the movie my daughter was enjoying with us, and I had to breathe deeply and remember he’s not choosing to feel these things so strongly.

In a lot of ways social distancing during Covid19 hasn’t been a negative experience for me. It simplifies our routines. Getting in the car and going wears me out–mainly the remembering to be places at certain times part (that’s my ADD/time management challenge). But when there are emotional storms in the home, there is no break to the intensity. I can’t call up a friend and meet her somewhere; my husband and I can’t give each other days out of the house. So I’m thankful for my sliding glass door. I can hold my doggie and stare out of it at the birds and the plants in my pot growing greener each day, and follow the raindrops running down the glass.

I know there is good in every situation, even in ASD. But today I am giving myself permission to feel the loss of an expectation of lighthearted family movie nights. I am grieving something I didn’t know was so very important to me. And I am loving my child by realizing he is going to make an impact on the world in a way no one else can, because he sees and feels things unlike anyone else. And that’s ok.

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