Monday, December 7, 2009

Holidays with Aspie In-Laws

Family gatherings with the aspie side of the family can be extremely difficult for me. But with this newfound understanding of autism, I was able to approach a recent get-together with better understanding and less expectations.

I prayed hard prior to the event. Trying to figure out the best way to approach it all, I convinced myself to view it as going into another culture. As a missionary has to learn the ways and customs and language of another culture, so I had to realize that the aspies in the family are an entirely different people group even though they look the same as everyone else.

This meant that I remember in this culture the people will likely not volunteer to help with the dishes or other chores. They will probably not show any interest in my thoughts or health or anything about me. I will likely not be considered at all. And so I take the role of the servant, helping and working, all the while attempting to carry conversation by asking questions (otherwise all they do is stare at the television the entire time).

Christians are commanded to consider others above themselves and to serve and love one another. Well, in this case it's all one-sided, but whether they obey the commands or not, I am still called to!

It's always painful to be around the aspie side of the family, but this time was better. Lower expectations and a focus on serving others (without expecting any hint of appreciation or thoughtfulness in return) made it easier to get through. I am so grateful for knowledge of autism and asperger's. It is a huge relief to believe they are not hateful, selfish people who don't care two straws about me--they just don't know how (and it never enters their minds) to communicate otherwise.