Thursday, December 30, 2010

A little bit of history...

So my son is now seven, has Asperger's, and we've made it this far.  The question I get asked the most goes something like this: How did you find out?  How did he get diagnosed?  Truth be told, I've always known.  Not that he had Asperger's--but that he was different, a little right of center.  It was really hard after he was born because I knew things were off.  He wasn't difficult but he was a challenge.  I remember those first few nights struggling with feeding and his crying wondering what in the hell I'd gotten myself into. 

I kept going back to our pediatrician saying something wasn't right.  She kept telling me things were fine, he was my first baby and I was "over reacting."  But it was all the little things that just didn't add up in my mind:  How he interacted with me and how it changed with someone else.  The thing I found really weird was how he didn't react to someone new at all.  How sounds like the coffee grinder and electric blender sent him howling in pain.  How the sunlight made him wince.  How he talked like a robot and how he ran like Phoebe on "Friends"--arms flapping and legs kicking back and out.  How he didn't look me in the face and how he never ever recognized when I was angry or happy with him.

As he got older and started playing with things I noticed he played differently.  It was always the weirdest thing to me, to watch my kid play next to a "normal" kid.  The normal kid seemed so content to bang things around and explore.  My little boy, the only way I can describe it, was frustrated.  If he was crawling, he wanted to walk.  If he was walking he wanted to run.  Even to this day if he's doing addition at school, he wants to do multiplication.

I remember going to a friend's house who had a little girl around Alex's age.  He was about 18 months old.  This was my first experience with a play date so I was curious to see what would happen.  The little girl sat playing with books and blocks.  Alex would not leave my side and started counting the knobs on the kitchen drawers.  When he was done counting, he moved on and organized blocks by size and then sub-categorized them by color.  To me this was normal.  This is what he always did, the way he played.  When it was time to leave, Alex noticed a For Sale sign in the yard across the street.  He looked at it, pointed, and then spelled out R-E- M-A-X.  He continued spelling out the phone number and the agent's name.  The other mom kept telling me how smart he was and I was truly baffled.  Didn't all kids do this at 18 months?  Turns out, no.  I didn't know this till I had my second child and realized what a drastic difference it was.

After not getting very far with my pediatrician I hit the web and started looking.  And looking.  When he was almost three I figured out what he had.  Asperger's.  It was such a relief that I could identify what it was.  That I wasn't crazy.  It was a mind-bending experience to walk in to my pediatrician's office and tell her what I thought was going on.  She referred us to a child psychologist and after rounds of testing it was confirmed.  Asperger's. 

I tell you this so you may walk away with something I have now that I didn't have then---an understanding of my little boy and the knowledge that no matter what anyone else says, you are the expert on your kid.  You are going to be the only one who truly "gets" him.  And you are going to be the only one advocating for him and fighting for him when others don't understand. 

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