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Friday, May 01, 2009

Walking a road less traveled but finally named...
...in comfortable, familiar boots.  (Drawing by Leo.)

We have it: the confirmed diagnosis.  For our son.  Asperger's Syndrome.  On the Autism continuum.  Somewhere near full-functioning, but not quite. Not yet.  But perhaps one day.

And with it a door has been opened.  And a light switched on.  And every other illuminating, "a-ha" style metaphor you or I can conjure.

So this is what is on my mind these days, and what I will likely most often blog about.

I'll begin with a link to a poem on the Asperger's Association of New England website.  Bet you didn't know there was such an organization, did you?!   Neither did I till an early diagnosis by another doctor sent me searching for answers to my hundreds of questions.  And now I can't live without the comfort and support of the group.

The poem is "Because My Son Thinks Different" by Debi Baron.  It reminds me of the time I went to collect Leo from kindergarten and the teacher met me at the door.  She told me how, in honor of Earth Day I think it was, she handed each child a circle after talking about globes and maps, and asked them to draw Earth.

As she made her way from student to student, admiring their handful of green continents among the blue of water, she arrived at Leo's drawing.  On it was one single land mass, surrounded by water.  She complimented him on it, while trying to gently point out that there are actually several continents.  "Now there are," he confirmed.  "But this is before the continents shifted; it's Pangea."

The teacher was impressed, if not a bit alarmed.  I was proud, and not at all surprised.  

And so it was too with his recent diagnosis.  And I'm relieved that it was he who prodded us to bring him to a specialist to help determine why school is so difficult for him--even though at 16 he knocked the GED out of the park and scored high enough on the SATs in seventh grade to never have to take them again.

He will be an adult next week.  And while this new path still has a few potholes to weave in, around, and out of, I am happy to see signs that he is maturing.  A college sophomore on medical leave of absence, he hopes to transfer schools eventually.  First though he wants to take a couple community college courses to regain his self-confidence in his classroom abilities.  And this week he began a job, which he landed through his own connections, so he's feeling a huge sense of accomplishment there.

And while we still have tons of questions, we're learning to take one day at a time as a family.  Thank goodness life is about the journey and not about the destination, since--even wearing our comfortable boots--we'd likely arrive a wee bit late....

5 comments:

Kyle said...

Um...for some reason...I feel like the best thing to say is "congratulations!" That sounds weird, I know, but I think you know what I mean.

Things are always better when you can put a name to them.

Just ask Adam. Paradise was a confusing mess of colors and sensations till God said, "No, you fucking idiot, you're SUPPOSED to name them!"

Dana said...

Exactly.

Thanks.

Cindy said...

Jess has Asperger's as well. It's been an interesting ride but she's doing really great these days. She just finished her sophomore year of college as a psychology major.

I just read your blog entry to her and she said "wow, we have that in common, too."

Remember when they were little and how much they loved to spend time together? I miss those days.

Dana said...

Cindy! Jess!

Gosh, I miss you guys and those days too. Let's catch up - out of the spotlight of public posts - and arrange a time to meet up.

Glad to hear Jess is doing so well. Not at all surprised though. I recall her determination and hard working attitude. And her supportive parents.

Cheers!

Debi Baron said...

I was thrilled to find your link to my poem! Thank you so much. I'm glad it spoke to you.

My son, Reuben, is now finishing 10th grade and has just made a short film (for his High School community service project) about himself for AANE. It has not premiered on their website yet, but it should be there soon!

I hope everything is going well for your family!

Cheers,
Debi Baron