Dear Grandma and Grandpa,
I know you think I'm rude sometimes. The last time you tried to take me to the movies I screamed and put my hands over my ears because it was too loud and you got mad at me and said I ruined the movie for my little sister. Afterwards, when I was pacing in the back of the restaurant, you told me I needed to sit down with everyone. I heard you tell my mom that she should ignore me when I have a meltdown because all I want is attention. Sometimes I think you don't like me very much. But I want to let you know, I'm not a bad kid, I'm living with Asperger's.
Please learn about Asperger's/autism spectrum
- I don't have a great editor in my brain that helps me stop and think before I say things-but that doesn't mean I want to hurt someone else's feelings. I'm still learning the rules about what to say out loud and what to keep to myself. Be calm when you explain why my words aren't helpful and give me other options.
- Meltdowns happen because I'm overwhelmed or anxious. I don't like them either. If I knew a way to stay calm when I get frustrated, I would. It's really hard to take deep breaths and let things go once I'm upset. Don't talk to me too much or try to reason with me. You can show me a picture or remind me of ways I can calm down (like taking a break or listening to music).
- It can be hard for me to recognize the nonverbal cues you use to express emotions. I don't always pick up on tone of voice, facial expressions, body language or gestures. Be explicit about what you are trying to express with your tone of voice or body language. Tell me what you are trying to show me.
- Loud noises and being confined in a tight space with lots of people makes me very uncomfortable. That's why I like to get up and move around or use headphones. Make sure I have a "Plan B" in case the first plan doesn't work out.
Additional ways you can help
- Write out a schedule so I know what to expect when we're together
- Be flexible and patient with me
- Appreciate what I'm good at and learn about the topics and things that interest me
- Offer choices for activities. We might not have the same definition of "fun."