The World Through Her Eyes-Living With Aspergers

April 15, 2013 in mentor moms,puberty

daughter with asperger'sAnother crazy afternoon, a day in the life of me. Except this time, we had just picked up my oldest from school and she is still struggling to keep herself together. I juggle her assignments, Elijah’s off the wall energy and Tori’s victorious antics. We settle in for the evening, supper, showers, stories, and bedtime. After I get the little ones to bed, I hustle Chy into the shower.

She takes longer than usual, forty five minutes later, she is out, dripping wet and her eyes hold a brokenness in them. She asks me quietly if I would straighten her mound of golden brown hair.

“Sure,” I say as I begin the tedious process of de-tangling and blow-drying her Shirley Temple curls. She’s looking at herself in the mirror but something is different, I don’t like the way she is looking at herself. She doesn’t say it, so I say it for her,

“You don’t think you’re good enough, do you?” Her big brown eyes begin to mist, the pressure of being in sixth grade and trying to compute the world the way everyone else does, is just too much. Cheyenne has struggled in school since the beginning.

In first grade, she floundered because she couldn’t see the words like everyone else. She had to learn a completely new way to read by memorizing the look of a word.

In second grade, we found out, she was nearly blind on one eye. It required sporting an eye patch all day, everyday. In third, she was the little girl that the girls left out in their games, making themselves superior in her eyes. In fourth, we realized she couldn’t focus and required different learning strategies with the diagnosis of Inattentive A.D.D. and recently the missing piece of the puzzle of Cheyenne was Aspergers.

Middle school holds all new challenges which Cheyenne has to fight through to make sense of the world. She wants to fit in, to look like everyone else, to be able to laugh at jokes, and be silly like the rest of her peers. But Cheyenne doesn’t get jokes, she has curly hair, glasses, and is taller than her teacher.

In seventh grade, she is realizing her world is not like everyone else’s, she has to fight the way her mind interprets all of its sensory mis-communications (Imagine trying to have a conversation while standing in the middle of a casino with every machine hitting jackpot at once and confetti blowing everywhere). Everything from smells wafting in the air, to the way her clothing feels on her body, she has to learn to tune out in order to process what is happening within the bounds of the socialization happening around her.

As I straighten her hair, I begin to tell her how perfect she is. (This means I’m standing on top of the tub to reach her hair).

“God created you for something special, I don’t know what it is yet, Chy, but you have gifts, abilities, and talent for the purpose God planned for you. Everything from your hair to your heart has been made absolutely perfect. You’re stunning, you’re powerful because you’re a child of God.”

As we stand there in the silence, the song Mean by Taylor Swift plays over the radio and we get silly. Grabbing our hairbrushes, singing along together knowing her only focus was to tune others out and listen for God’s truth. As we dance around our bathroom, somewhere in the middle of it, I get what she’s going through, someday and soon I hope, she will be strengthened enough in who she is and not what everyone makes her out to be.

After hugging her skinny, five foot nine inch frame, I send her off to bed, feeling like I have no clue what I’m doing in this stage of motherhood but being real with her has somehow helped.

How do I encourage her when I don’t understand how she sees her world? How can I cheer her on if she cannot believe in herself? All I can do is love her the best I can while leading her through God’s word and pray that God reveals to Cheyenne the beauty and a strength that she holds all on her own.

Heather RigglemanHeather Riggleman is a recovering mom to three very active children. She is also a Nebraska favorite speaker and is currently blazing a new trail for moms in the midst of motherhood. Her goal is to show how real and tangible God is in our every day lives.

In fact, you can read all about it in her new book, Mama Needs A Time Out. You can connect with her on her author site atwww.heatherriggleman.com.
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{ 12 comments… read them below or add one }

Linda April 15, 2013 at 10:46 am

Beautiful story and a loving mom.

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heather April 15, 2013 at 12:41 pm

Thank you Linda!

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Lori Wildenberg April 15, 2013 at 1:36 pm

Heather,
I love this. I really love this. I love the way you love your child. I love the way you help her love herself. I love the way you remind her how much God loves her. Love….love is the most excellent way to parent. And you, my friend, have that down!
Lori

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Heather April 15, 2013 at 9:51 pm

Lori, Thank you. 🙂 We have to learn to love ourselves, flaws, imperfections and all. If we were perfect, we would not need God.

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Carol April 15, 2013 at 2:43 pm

“How do I encourage her when I don’t understand how she sees her world? How can I cheer her on if she cannot believe in herself? All I can do is love her the best I can while leading her through God’s word and pray that God reveals to [her] the beauty and a strength that she holds all on her own.” These words brought tears to my eyes as they directly speak what my heart feels with regard to my own daughter and her challenges. Thank you for this post.

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Heather April 15, 2013 at 9:53 pm

Carol
HUGE hugs to you. Motherhood isn’t easy and at times I’d love to have a manual but I think that’s the beauty of it. Our daughters and our own spirits grow in the deepest valleys, in the challenges and struggles.

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Rebecca April 15, 2013 at 2:59 pm

Oh Heather, this is beautiful and heart-breaking all at once. May God bless you and your lovely tall girl!

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Heather April 15, 2013 at 9:51 pm

Thank you Rebecca. It’s a part of life isn’t it? I’m thankful my daughter is exactly who she is. God has done SO much through her.

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Alexa (Kat) April 16, 2013 at 8:57 pm

This post is so touching. I felt for her, I felt for you. Life can be so tough. Sounds like you are doing well at cheering her on!

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Rachel Cotterill April 20, 2013 at 11:59 am

It’s interesting – you seem to hear of more boys with Aspergers than girls, and I wonder if it’s even harder for girls, because the expectations are different (especially for teens). This is a lovely story and I hope Cheyenne will soon realise what a great person she is – irrespective of how she is expected to interact with the world around her.

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Ava May 24, 2013 at 7:49 am

Family Support is very much important for the people with Aspergers.
An aspie is sometimes unable to express what he or she feels but the family members are the one who understand them an support them in every phase of life.
This was a wonderful story on life with aspergers and was inspirational too.
I loved reading this post.

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pruningprincesses May 28, 2013 at 8:08 pm

Hi Ava, Heather’s post was wonderfully real. I really enjoyed her writing too. Thanks for stopping by.

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