Encouragement for the Young Girl with Aspergers

Encouragement for the Young Girl with Aspergers

To the Young Girl with Aspergers Syndrome

Just yesterday morning, a dear friend of mine reached out to me.  Her oldest daughter is an 18 year-old college student.  She is also an amazing young lady on Autism Spectrum .  Having grown so much in these past 4 years as a girl with Aspergers Syndrome she wrote a letter to her 14 year-old self.

She has allowed me to share it here for any young girl who feels different and needs this encouragement.  What an honor and my privilege.

For the mom raising a neurodiverse young girl… please share this with your precious creative.  Let’s celebrate the uniqueness of all of our children and allow our girls to thrive as the people God intends them to be.

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Dear 14-year-old me,

Well. Four years can certainly make a difference, now can’t it? Seeing your face again brings back a lot of memories, y’know. Makes me realize just how much both the world and I have changed. Time is more of a kiln than a river, in all honesty. Life can and will hurt, yes, but as I look back, I know that I wouldn’t change anything.
Hmm? Advice, you say? Well…let me see. What advice could I give you?
Y’know, in all honesty, I’d say that the best advice I could give you is that you’re not alone.
You’re not broken, or defective, or glitched.

Popping Balloons

You’re not the only one who’s scared by the sound of balloons popping and gets extremely uncomfortable at parties.
Fortunately, plenty of other girls out there have that same wild fuel for the imagination.  They too navigate those same issues with feeling as if you need to perform in order to be accepted.
In fact, there is a shockingly high amount of people who will completely understand when you try to scurry off to another room to escape the hubbub. There are so many other girls and boys who get this pacifying and focusing effect that music has on you.
There are countless other Aspies who know what it’s like to be drifting off to sleep and suddenly be murmuring out dialogues, solidifying plots and characters before slumber overtakes you.
They too understand what it is like to be trying to do school and suddenly it’s half an hour later, and you have a doodled battle scene and no progress on school whatsoever.
You’re not a weird outcast.

One-of-a-kind Rare

You are one-of-a-kind rare, but not in your troubles. There will always be someone out there who’s gone through the exact same issues with anxiety and feeling as uncontrolled as you, and they understand what it’s like.
Keep going.
Keep imagining.
Keep writing.
Keep drawing, even though you think you’re no good.
You’ll get to a point one day where you step back, take a good look at your rough draft for a novel and the art you’ve done so far, and you say,
“This is something that could change someone’s life. There are people out there who need this message, and I have the God-given ability to give it to them. To have a character say something that will stick with a complete stranger and motivate them to make the world a better place.”

God has a Vital Purpose for You

You are FAR from unimportant, younger me. God has put you here for a vital, vital purpose. There will be perfect strangers who will decide to give life another chance because you spoke the Gospel to them, people you have never seen in person and probably never will who will know you as a beacon of light and hope…if only you keep pushing on. Fight past your own fears and hatred, and fight past the bullies you’ll run into. Neither of them have any right to have any power over you.

Healing & Inspiration for the Aspergers Girl

You are a juggernaut of healing and inspiration: you can’t and won’t be stopped after you get unleashed on this broken world.
You have God with you for every step of the way no matter what.  His opinion – not any bully’s, not any critic’s, not even your own – is what matters.
You have so, so much power for good in you because God is your king. Use it. Ignore the voices and fears saying you can’t.

Break Down the Walls of Despair

You have been given a gift like no other: so by golly, go be a juggernaut, and break down those walls of despair and darkness threatening people’s souls. You are a healer and a warrior so powerful that this broken world tried to weaken you with Aspergers…but it messed up and just made you even stronger.

Find Your Aspie Army

So find your army to remind you that you’re not alone, and then draw your bow in a world that only knows how to fire slingshots. You are unique, even when you don’t think so. You are talented, even when you don’t think so. You are never walking your path by yourself, even when you think you are. You are strong, even when you don’t think so.
You are a young girl with Aspergers Syndrome, and you are amazing.
Fight on, young warrior.

Your Older & More Confident Self,

Leigh 

Leigh is an 18 year-old Aspie warrior who’s also learning how ADHD, SPD, and anxiety can all be gifts.  As a college freshman, she is preparing to accomplish her dream of publishing her first self-illustrated novel.  She loves nothing more than helping others see how God celebrates their uniqueness.  

Teen Moodiness, Meltdowns & Mexican Food

Teen Moodiness, Meltdowns & Mexican Food

Parents have been navigating teen moodiness and meltdowns since the creation of man. Generations of moms and dads have been plagued by the hormonal roller coaster of their teens’ mood swings and attitudes. No fun.

I am no exception.

Many of you have heard me share about navigating my adopted son’s severely volatile behaviors. It was our family’s brutal journey with him that led me to a life completely shattered and God rebuilding me into a completely different parent. For more about our story through adoption and special needs, start here.

However, it is not only my son who continually needs support with his meltdowns. Like generations of girls before her, my oldest daughter has morphed into a young lady with all of the teen moodiness and meltdowns.

Let me share a story with you.

Two nights ago, I took my girls out on a little date out for dinner.  Of course, we all agreed on Mexican… chips and salsa are my jam!

The date was supposed to be just my middle daughter and me.  However, at the last minute my oldest begged to join us.  Middle graciously agreed that Big Sis could tag along on our date night.

Fast forward… we enjoyed our chips, salsa, queso, nachos and a burrito (yes!  we shared)… we had a great time… silly convo… yep!  It was a success…

Until…It wasn’t.

 

Teen Moodiness to Meltdowns in 30 Seconds Flat

In what seemed like a thirty second window of time, my oldest daughter shifted.  Her face changed… she was no longer laughing at my stories about how Aunty Jamie used to be obsessed with Davy Jones from The Monkees…  Anyone else remember The Monkees on Nickelodeon after school?

“Hey, hey, we’re the Monkees!”

“Daydream believer and a homecoming queen…”

Anyone? Anyone? Bueller? Nobody cares?

Ok… apparently my cousins, my sisters and I had strange taste in entertainment. We still had tons of fun.

Anyway, my girls had been asking questions about my life as a kid and we were having fun and laughing.

We were chomping down on our chips and salsa when she began complaining about “being full” and wanting me to drive her home.

I asked her what was wrong.

Classic teen meltdown response, “Nothing.”

Pushing her further, (I knew she wasn’t telling me the truth), she responded with, “I’m just tired.”

‘Oh! That’s how she is going to play it. Great!’ My frustration was beginning to creep up into my voice.

 

Teen Moodiness & Attitude? Or Something Else?

My initial reaction was to become a little P.O.ed at her.

‘Great!  After she begged her little sister to jump in on our scheduled date night… she gets what she wanted…she got her yummy Mexican food and now she is done with us.’

Does anyone see what was happening with me? We will get back to that.

Let’s be real… teens do have a knack for being just a little ego-centric… I couldn’t be that off in my assessment of her new shift in “attitude”. Right?

In my own heart and mind, I began to feel sad and disappointed that this change in my oldest’s engagement in our light-hearted fun, could possibly ruin my middle daughter’s date night. As the adult I had to make a decision.

I could have just started laying into her about ruining her little sister’s date time and being a bit selfish… But I didn’t. Not this time.

In the past, I likely would have pointed out her self-centered motives and “mood” swing. Because my oldest errs on the side of taking too much responsibility for others’ reactions and responses, she would have likely shut down and apologized profusely before I finished even speaking.

Her typical response would have likely satisfied me. I mean, who doesn’t appreciate it when anyone takes responsibility for their actions? An apology would have been a satisfactory response, right?

Maybe… or I could have slammed a door on our relationship… even if just temporarily.

Fortunately, this is not how the interaction went down. Praise God!

By God’s mercy, all that I have learned over these past several years navigating my son, has taught me so much more than just how to handle a special needs toddler meltdown… I’ve learned how to navigate relational conflict. Period.

Teen Moodiness as Meltdowns

My daughter was having a meltdown. Yes, this was her version of a meltdown. I know what to do when one of my cubs has a meltdown.

No, it wasn’t a drop-down kicking and screaming meltdown that the whole restaurant was privy to… but it was my teenage daughter’s (lite) version of a meltdown.

I made a mental pivot from the perspective that told me she was being willfully selfish and could care less that her negative mood and sudden lack of engagement were putting a damper on our girls’ night out. I shifted the lens to view this sudden change as, “Something just happened. She had a thought or something just came to mind and she is responding. Let me investigate.

Four Steps to Resolve My Teen’s Meltdown 

Enter in the Four Steps to Capture & Influence Your Child’s Heart, Beliefs & Behavior.

Step 1: Relationship

I looked directly at my girly and made eye contact.

Step 2: Provide Emotional Vocabulary & Reflect

“What happened, Sweet Girl?  You went from happy and laughing to ‘shut down’.  What are you thinking?  You look like you are feeling sad.”

Step 3: Provide Physical Input

I rocked her in my arms like a baby…

Step 4: Shift Attention & Distract

I began pretending to her cell phone in a baby voice to make her laugh and distract her.

OK.  OK.  I didn’t have to work through steps 3 & 4… the first two steps opened up conversation between us all.

The Result

Her defensive wall of perceived teenage “moodiness” crumbled down almost immediately. My girl opened up to us.

“I just heard a song that reminded me of Grandma,” she managed to confess as she held back tears. My mom passed suddenly about 9 months ago and she has been struggling terribly with her grief.

My teen daughter’s sudden change of mood had nothing to do with selfishly “using” her sister and me for Mexican food. Her perceived “attitude” was actually sadness.

Had I engaged her through a more traditional lens which simply looks at outward socially unacceptable behaviors as problems to be eradicated, I would have blown it big time. I would have missed out on an opportunity to be my daughter’s safe place of refuge… to be her trusted ally who ultimately points her to Jesus.

Praise God that I didn’t jump to conclusions and praise God that I have learned so much through this journey with my son.

Meltdowns Don’t Cease Simply Because We Age

The reality is that we all have meltdowns… ALL.OF.US. Adults and children alike. Adults lose it all the time. Adult meltdowns simply “look” different from a teen meltdown.

When was the last time that you snapped at your child or hubby because you have reached the end of your rope?

Meltdown.

There is no judgement in this. We are all just human beings living in a broken world. Meltdowns simply appear differently depending upon the variables. We will all have meltdowns likely until the day we die. However, there is incredible grace for us all.

Whether a toddler tantrum, an elementary-age explosion, or a teen meltdown or moodiness… let’s equip our children to work through the tough thoughts and big emotions that lead to meltdowns.

Then watch them smile and say, “Thank you, Mom.”

Just wanted to share…

Feel free to grab a free copy of the Behind the Behavior Intro Bundle  and begin to reframe your relationship with your child… toddler to teen.