What It’s Like to Be the Kid at Church with Asperger Syndrome-term life


What it's like to be the kid at church with Asperger Syndrome

I wasn’t planning to write today about donuts, but as I was going through some old files, I ran across something I wrote about a year ago after what my family refers to as “The Donut Incident.”

Although we laugh about it now, it was more than a little upsetting at the time.

As I processed the event, I kept trying to think about the whole thing from my son’s point of view. . . and this post is the result.

To the Lady Who Caught Me Eating Three Donuts

Dear lady at church who caught me eating three donuts:

Um, hi. It’s me. I’m pretty sure you know who I am. Even though we’ve never met, I’m certain you know my name. My mom says that everywhere I go, people know my name. One time I asked her why that was, and she just laughed and patted me on the head.

I know you were pretty upset when you saw me taking all those donuts last Sunday. I grabbed three of them before church even started, while my mom was practicing with the choir. Mom told me to stay there, in the fellowship hall, and to be good, so that’s what I was trying to do.

I mean, my Mom and Dad always tell me to just take one donut. And they usually make me wait until after church to get it. Which I hate, because I always get stuck on my way there behind some lady in a walker or somebody else really slow. Or people come up to me and swarm me and try to talk to me so much it feels like I’m never going to make it to the donuts.

And the old lady with the walker might beat me there and take them all.

Getting to those donuts first is really important to me. My Mom says it’s because of how my brain works. All I know is that I HAVE TO GET TO THE DONUTS, preferably before anyone else, and then I’ll feel more calm.

It’s all part of my routine.

So you see, last Sunday I was there, and my mom was in choir practice, and my Dad and my sister were home sick. It was just Mom and me and my two brothers.

My older brother and I were arguing on the way to church so Mom said to stay away from each other when we got inside. She said to please be good. “Please, please, please,” she said. And then she went to choir practice. She kinda has to go there since she’s the piano player.

Anyway, I saw that as my golden opportunity. You see, there were all those donuts, fresh and warm and nobody had touched them yet. And I figured since my Dad and my sister weren’t there to eat their donuts, I’d just go ahead and eat theirs for them. So I took three.

Yep. Three donuts. 

And no, I didn’t put any money in the donation jar. I never even knew that jar was there. My Mom usually takes care of that.

Boy, was I happy after eating those three donuts.

But you weren’t happy with me at all. You scolded me. Then you scolded my brother for not stopping me. I’m sure you didn’t know how Mom told us to steer clear of each other once we got inside the building. Plus, my brother has his own problems. He’s a teenager.

It must’ve made you really mad, though, me eating those three donuts. ‘Cause I saw my mom later, after Sunday School, and she looked like she’d been crying. I’m guessing you said something to her about it. People do that a lot. They tell my mom about all the ways I’ve messed up and she usually cries. I don’t like to see my mom cry. It worries me.

What It’s Like to Be the Kid at Church with Asperger’s

I want to be good and I really do try. It’s just that my brain doesn’t cooperate all the time. I feel really anxious and nervous most days, and I get so worked up sometimes that I just want to yell at somebody.

I wanted to yell at my brother that Sunday. But instead, I ate three donuts. Donuts make me happy. After I ate them I felt better. Like I didn’t need to yell anymore.

My mom talked to me about the whole incident after church. She explained why it was wrong for me to take three donuts before anyone else had a chance to get one. It seemed dumb to me, but I went along with it. In my mind, if anybody else wanted to get a donut before me, they should’ve gotten there sooner!

But mom says it’s polite to just take one and to give everyone else dibs before going back for seconds. Mom said she put some extra money in the jar to cover those three donuts. She looked sad, and as I said before, I don’t like it when she’s sad.

So I want you to understand, Donut Lady, I didn’t mean anything by it. I’m just a kid and sometimes I make really dumb decisions. Did you ever do that when you were a kid? Or maybe even when you were a grownup?

I’m learning and I’m growing and some things are harder for me than they are for other kids. But I’m super smart and I will figure it out eventually.

Because of the way I am, lots of people think I’m weird. They look at me funny and sometimes they call me names. I’m not like other people. I know I’m different. Sometimes I cry about it because it seems like I don’t fit in and I don’t have any friends. I really want to get along with other people and do the right things, but I’m not very good at it.

Mom says it’s kind of like how some kids need extra help in math or reading. I’m super good at math, so I don’t get how other kids struggle with it, but I’m not so great at social skills. I’m learning though, and mom says I’m going to be just fine. She says taking too many donuts isn’t near as bad as biting people — which is what I used to do when I was three.

I hope you’ll forgive me and try to understand, Donut Lady.

I promise next Sunday I’ll do better. And I’ll try really hard not to knock you over on my way to the donuts.


The Kid at Church with Asperger Syndrome


What about you? Want to share a story with me about a time one of your kids did something crazy from your perspective that made perfect sense to them? Oh, and while you’re at it. . . enjoy some donuts today won’t you?


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