So just last week my daughter Evie told me that she would like to start doing a video blog and posting to YouTube. She loves YouTube and really enjoys watching cute pet videos, arts and craft instruction videos, science related videos, etc. Being that Evie has Aspergers Syndrome, I decided that this just might be a great outlet for her. I mean she can’t really talk to people because there is way too much anxiety involved in conversing with people she doesn’t know but here is she with the desire to publish videos that perhaps hundreds, thousands, and even millions of people may view. That was astonishing to me. You see she isn’t shy. She has Aspergers and there is a difference between the two. She has no problem with people seeing her picture, even pictures where she is being goofy. She has no problem telling people how she feels. She has a problem with face to face interactions. The face to face communication is more difficult because it involves other people asking questions or putting her on the spot or using sarcasm, perhaps telling a joke that she doesn’t get. All of these things cause her anxiety to skyrocket. I mean what if she answers incorrectly or someone says something she doesn’t get? Those are really the fearful questions she asks herself.
So after I set up her channel so that I could manage it and manage the comments for her since she is after all only 10, she started immediately on her video blogging. Her first blog video being about having Aspergers and what it is like. I think she articulated well for being 10 years old. Part of what I think helps her even though she doesn’t speak to other children and rarely becomes involved in communication outside the family is the fact that I have 5 children and we are mostly outgoing and talkative people. She has grown up with lots of communication if not “over-communication”. I often use my lectures as discipline since most of the time after having to sit for 15 minutes and listen to me discuss the consequences of actions… my children typically beg to be dismissed promising that they will do better in the future. I always close my lectures with.. “And what could you being doing right now if you hadn’t done “such and such”?” That gets them every time. But honestly, having a family that talks a lot is probably the best environment for her. Even though she may not be much of a talker… I notice that in her videos she phrases things a lot like the rest of us. She picks up on our sarcasm and our facial expressions. She once told me “Mom, when you guys tell jokes that I don’t get or use sarcasm that I don’t get, I’ve learned to just laugh when you do.”
So her first blog was a success. She felt happy about putting it out there and was excited to see others visit and comment and like her videos. She indicated that it would be cool if she could help other kids that just got diagnosed or help people understand what she has. One of her biggest pet peeves is when someone thinks she just needs to be forced to interact or taught social skills. When we attempted to put her in social skills class it was a huge ordeal and she refused to ever go back. She insisted that the class was teaching them to “fake” a personality and she has already been “faking” for a long time which is why she said it took so long (9 years) to figure out she had Aspergers. She says she is very good at faking.
So within a few days she had completed 4 videos. Then I started realizing that I was one of her biggest fans. I find it interesting that I spend all day with her every day now that she is doing “online school” but I still don’t really hear her talk like she does on her videos. She won’t let me watch the videos when she is around and I can’t be anywhere near them when she is making them. But oddly enough, I feel like by watching them, I’m getting to know her better.
Another benefit to the videos is perhaps with her therapist. She just closes down when we take her to therapy, often looking off into the distance and rarely sharing unless we say something she disagrees with and then there is a defensive comment or two and then if she gets irritated enough, she’ll just shut her eyes and escape into her own little world. Well perhaps now, the therapist can view the videos to see how she is feeling or what she thinks. This might very well be a benefit. Also, I notice that I can sort of link the type of day she is having or her “mood” to the way her video turns out. For instance, the first 3 videos she was very calm and focused. She seemed to be thinking clearly. Those days were also good days when it came to interacting with the family, complying with rules, and eating. The fourth video was a bit different. She was spinning in a chair and couldn’t sit still, she flipped her hair and moved about, she had difficulty concentrating on what she was saying and went off on a couple tangents. This video day coincided with a similar mood when interacting with the family. She had issues with her sister and problems with me looking at her because she felt I was staring at her. She was moody and irritated and easily frustrated. Perhaps the topics she chooses to speak about also coincide with her moods. The “off” day was the video about “hating parties”, where the “good” day was the day she posted more “positive” topics. I guess all of this would be true of any person with or without Aspergers but for me as her mother I feel that it is a good way of “tracking” her moods and behavior, and possibly a way to reach her and help her find out what is bothering her on those days.
All in all, I think the video blogs were a good idea. I think she will help other parents with perhaps younger children or children her age so they know what to expect if they are newly diagnosed. Of course keeping in mind that each child with Aspergers is different, just as neuro-typical children are different.
If you would like to watch Evie’s channel, you can view it below:
Just a Girl with Aspergers