Ben’s View Archives

Asperger Syndrome/Depression

I want to reiterate that not all Asperger’s Syndrome children are alike. I am simply telling my experiences with Ben, my grandson.
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Ben has suffered from depression since he was a young child. He struggles with it even today as a twenty-year old. Today I will include one of his own writings and each time I read it, I am grieved again when I think of his world.
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Ben’s Thoughts Written 11/6/05
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The Suffering: MY SCHOOL STORIES
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Remember in elementary school whenever you only had one teacher to worry about? I do, and right now, I know high schools across the U.S. are taking a beating, because apparently, high schoolers have to do 10 times the amount of work, and it is also 10X more frequent. My life is a constant barrage of not knowing what work to do, not knowing how to do the work I am aware of, not understanding how to keep up with my work, not understanding how and why I can’t do the work while expressing my opinions in it or about it, not being able to express while even sorting out through the whole mess…and OH YEAH! My social problems like, I don’t
know KNOWING I’M NEVER GOING TO BE GOOD ENOUGH FOR
ANYONE! NOT EVEN A GIRLFRIEND! Not to mention the fact that while Tm rotting my brain looking at the computer, all other kids my age are probably seeing movies with their friends or girlfriends. Til never experience that! I feel SO INCOMPLETE. I don’t even feel human anymore. Name one thing I could use to cure this….drugs, movies, happiness, ANYTHING! If all else fails, I will fail. Stress is like a sponge that soaks up your sanity. And mine is on the line. I can think about how things could be for me, but I never do! With only a few drops of sanity left, I’m not sure how much more “work” I can take. This, all of this, is just psychological torture solidified into hundreds of worksheets, projects, and tests I have to make up. I am on the edge of a gigantic cliff, and the work I have to do is the bulldozer that will push me all the way to the bottom which represents me losing the last of my sanity. If I have to stay at school until 10:00, let me stay! I will work. Or at least try.
I would sell my possessions – everything, even my bed – just to have a normal life. I know too much to be considered a teen. Disturbing things. Extremely pessimistic things. Nothing the “normal” teen could call common sense. But the one bit of knowledge I happen to lack is the one most important factor in growing up!! What they know is how to talk to other people without becoming shy, and talking to girls- everything normal males my age do. What I know is COMPLETELY IRRELEVANT. And that makes me bitter towards the people, everyone, regardless of gender, age, or stability. I am literally mentally decaying, and I’m the only one who sees it. I’m going to work full time to at least try to change it.

Asperger Syndrome/The Umbrella

In Ben’s case, the diagnosis is Asperger’s Syndrome which can be understood as an umbrella. Underneath the umbrella he suffers from Attention Deficit Disorder. The ADD is very troublesome for him because he has trouble remembering important things, has a tendency to lose things, and is very unorganized.
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One teacher asked Ben to write a paragraph explaining why he did not bring his book nor his homework to class. Here is Ben’s paragraph:
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“I don’t have the work because lately I haven’t been
keeping track of my book. I’m sure it’s not lost. I
had so much things on my mind, I forgot. I really
should start keeping track of my things. There’s just
too much to do. I’m not really good at remembering
things, but I’ll try harder. It’s just after seven hours
of school, I get really tired. Then I watch TV or play
on the computer. I really do want to get good grades.
I just don’t try hard enough.”

Ben’s Writings

When Ben began seventh grade, we began to notice pieces of paper folded or in some cases wadded up just laying around the house. We began to read them to see if they were important enough to keep. We discovered that Ben was writing about all of his frustrations at school and at home. We collected some and found that he is a gifted writer at expressing his feelings. I will include some of them as this blog proceeds.
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Looking back Ben’s mother and I believe Ben’s years in the public school system were most unhappy for him. We believe in public education especially since I am a retired teacher and she teaches second grade now in the public school system. If we had it to do over, we would make every effort to find a type of education that would have better fit his needs. He definitely needed to be in a very small class situation where he could get a great deal of one on one instruction. I am not suggesting that the public schools cannot meet the needs of your particular child. In Ben’s case, not a lot was known at that time how best to teach Asperger children. Hopefully, methods have improved. Here are two of Ben’s writings that we found and they were written when he was about fourteen years old:

“You say you want to help, yet the problem still persists.
You try to help me understand, but shortly after, you desist.
You want me to do better, yet you only hold me back.
You are always trying to raise my hopes,
But from all this, confidence I lack.
None of your ideas or plans are ever followed through.
I’m just some kind of circus freak to entertain you.
To those who do not understand, (the vast majority),
You’d stay at home and weep all day
If you knew how it felt to be me.”

ALGEBRA

“Class begins as the tardy bell rings.
I rush to get inside-I barely make it.
I quickly grab my calculator and my math book.
“Great! Homework on a weekend,” I say.
Only to be interrupted by a flash of the overhead.
A Warm-up.
I understand none of the formulas or the equations
Or the problems, or the stress
That comes with having to learn and understand
All these random equations and symbols.
The warm-up is over.
Everyone else understands the explanations
Of how she got this number or that number.
I haven’t even lifted my pencil.
I struggle to understand Algebra once and for all.
I try to comprehend the formulas and numbers and signs.
But it only hurts my feeling of self worth.
And there’s the bell.”

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