Have you ever had to do something that you really didn’t want to do? Have you tried to do everything you could to avoid doing it? In most cases, one thing that is impossible to avoid is change. Everybody has to deal with it in some point of their lives and you also may have tried everything you could to avoid it. This is a very common trait for children and adolescents with Aspergers Syndrome, even a small change in their daily routine can cause depression or even a total meltdown. For example, lets say you and a friend planned to get together for the weekend, when at the last minute your mother says no. Most neurotypical teens would hurry up and get the job done, while one with Asperger’s Syndrome would have a total meltdown. Of course, it depends on their personality, but something as simple as that could cause a person on the spectrum to have a total meltdown.
I just gave you a general example of what can cause meltdowns, but social skills groups need to teach aspie children to cope with change appropriately, if they deal with the situation inappropriately, they could end up getting in severe trouble in school, or even ruin their chances of getting a job. The most recent change that I had to go through was moving from Freeport Area Senior High school to the Lenape Vo Tech school in Ford City PA. Right off the bat, the first thing that really worried me was the feeling of not knowing what to expect. All sophomores from Freeport have the opportunity to come to Lenape their junior and senior year, but I don’t particularly want to talk to most of those people because I already know them. I wanted Lenape to be a fresh start for me, I wanted to forget about my negative experiences at Freeport and meet new people. The thing that stresses me out about Lenape now is that it is still “cliquish”, just like your typical high school. Most of the people from Lenape seem to only want to associate the people they already know from their home schools, they really don’t seem interested in meeting new people. It’s hard to meet new people when they are not interested in meeting new people. One common trait in kids with Aspergers Syndrome is that they take longer to adapt to major changes than a nuerotypical teen. Social skills are natural for neurotypicals, and they are able to go and make friends right away. One thing I wish secondary schools would do is assign special needs students and aide or a responsible upperclassman to help them find their classes and get their bearings. This would especially help middle school special need students who are just trying to get use to having more than just one teacher, and helping them get their way around the school. Back to the Lenape story, I had no difficulty finding my classrooms, but it was just meeting the new people that I had a problem with, and their being uninterested in getting to know me. Another change that has been really hard to deal with is the long bus ride. My bus has to pick me up at 6:10 in the morning, and the homeroom tardy bell doesn’t ring until 7:48. I usually don’t get back home until around 4:00 in the afternoon, so my bus ride is over an hour long both ways! There really isn’t anything they can do about that, because it is the only bus that picks us up around our area. I know that complaining about the situation will not help, so the better thing to do is to just deal with it. I really hope that things turn around, and I hope that the people will be more open than they have been. There are a few changes about Lenape that are inevitable, such as the long bus ride, so my best advice for you is to just deal with it. Complaining doesn’t make any type of change better, it will only make it worse. Yes I do grumble about getting up at 5:15 in the morning sometimes, but I am at least going to a place better than Freeport.
Another change that probably has upset me more than anything in the past is friendships ending. This is especially sad when you have been friends with this person for a very long time. Like I mentioned in my blog about dating, they may get a boyfriend or a girlfriend and act like they are their number one priority in life, they just simply don’t want to talk to you anymore. When they start rejecting phone calls, ignoring emails and text messages, and avoiding social time with you is when it becomes time to end the friendship. A situation similar to this happened when I started junior high, I had a friend that I hung out with all the time, named Jason. During elementary school, we would always go to each-others houses, go out and do things together, and talk during lunch time at school. We went to places like the zoo, walks down the trail, and when it was still open, we would go to the Freeport Community Pool together. This all changed when junior high came around, he started hanging out with different people, and completely forgot about me. He would start rejecting phone calls, and avoid social time with me, he would make excuses like “sorry, I’m to busy”, or “I just don’t feel like being social today”. I didn’t know how to deal with it at the time, so I just sat there and would cry about it. This wasn’t the only thing that upset me, but the fact that I didn’t fit in with anyone in the first place contributed to my depression and loneliness. I talked to my parents about the whole situation, and they told me to just move on. As I mentioned in my blog about dating, I would maybe attempt to “break the ice” and talk to the person about your feelings, if they talk to you rudely, then I would move on and find someone else to be friends with, it may be hard to find a new friend, especially if you are on the spectrum, but there are other people out there. My friend Aaron from Computing Workshop just started college this year, and he is attending college not to far from where I live, so I hopefully will be able to see him on occasions that he is free. I understand that he is not able to talk to me every single day of the week, because he will be extremely busy, but I know that he is still my friend. If anything happened to our friendship, I would feel even worse than I did when I ended my friendship with Jason. But, I am pretty sure that won’t happen.
As I said in the beginning, change is one of the inevitable things in life. If I could go back in time, I wish I could go back and deal with it differently. Using what I know now, I could have changed the way I dealt with it. I hope you found this informative, and I hope that you will use this to help a child on the spectrum in the future.