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Do you have Asperger’s like me?

A common frustration of parenting a child on the autism spectrum is the reality that most insurance policies will not cover social skills groups, and those helpful groups are generally quite pricey.  Our occupational therapist has wisely combined OT, (which is covered by our insurance), with social skills, and we recently began doing joint sessions with another boy of a similar age and diagnosis.

So the second time we met with this boy, he and Edward were playing contentedly in the waiting room, bandying some kid’s meal car back and forth while the therapist and I discussed the plan for the hour.  All of a sudden out of the busy din of waiting room conversation rang a clear, rather piercing question:

“So, do you have Asperger’s like me?”

The little boy glanced sideways at Edward as he asked, almost, but not quite, making eye contact.

Edward looked at him, looked at the car, and continued playing in apparent oblivion.

To his own credit, the boy could not be deterred, and he fired the question again, this time more loudly to the packed waiting room:

“So, Edward, I said, do you have Asperger’s like me?”

Edward met his gaze, and in mildly exasperated tone of voice fired back, “I do not know what you keep talking about, but I do not have that!”

The therapist and I exchanged a troubled glanced with the boy’s father, and the boys were quickly ushered into the OT room.

Later, our therapist told me that she felt it was time to share Edward’s diagnosis with him because it appeared he was ready to understand it to a certain extent and because more and more of his peers knew about their own diagnoses and would be asking him questions about his.

This is not the first time I have heard this particular advice.  I have also heard a plethora of advice against sharing a diagnosis with a child this age.

A bit later in the van, I asked Edward what his friend kept talking about.  His response?  “Yeah, I don’t know what he was talking about.  He kept going on and on about ‘ass boogers‘ and I most certainly don’t have those.  That sounds kinda gross…”

(insert grin here)

I went on to accurately pronounce the term and describe some of the characteristics of Asperger’s–how it was similar to ADHD, with which he is quite familiar–and how people who fall into that “camp” sometimes have challenges with social skills and making friends, paying attention and sometimes handwriting and a few other things.  We also discussed many of the amazing advantages of having a brain structured like his, and how God had created him so uniquely for a specific purpose.

“Oh, well, yes, then I do have that.  I absolutely have that Mom.  That’s me…”

You could have knocked me over with a hummingbird feather.

Something I had agonized over and fretted over, something that had kept me up countless nights debating and praying over, was as easy as telling a child he needed to use a special pencil grip or might hit a baseball further if he used a lighter weight bat.

Over the past few weeks, we have had occasion to discuss Asperger’s in much greater detail.  He now knows that several of his friends bear a similar diagnosis, and that has made him feel like he is most certainly not alone.

Based on a few comments he has made, I believe he is even recognizing how his difficulty reading facial expressions and body language often confuses him about what a friend is trying to do or say, and now he knows that Asperger’s has something to do with that.  All of a sudden the social skills classes make more sense to him.

What was before so confusing, now has a name.  That name gives meaning to his own feelings and experiences–both those that are challenges and those that are gifts.

I’m sure that in the days and years to come, this conversation will develop further complexities and nuances that are peacefully lost and absent today.

Yet today, I will revel in the simplicity of an eight-year-old who hears this diagnosis and does not cringe, does not question and does not fear.

That’s what I embrace today.

Posted on 6 August '10 by , under Autism Spectrum/Sensory Processing.

25 Comments to “Do you have Asperger’s like me?”

#1 Posted by Elizabeth (06.08.10 at 22:32 )

I’m glad, but not surprised, that your son did well with the diagnosis. We know a family with a 30-something daughter who has a mental disability. Although treated well by her parents and most of her siblings, she felt different because she was in a “special class” at school. (I’m not saying this to discredit special classes. She really couldn’t cope when she took classes that were integrated.)

A. couldn’t understand why she was treated as different by others until she married an unkind man who took her to a foreign country very soon after they married, and kept her a virtual prisoner in their home for five years–door locked, curtains closed, and perhaps five outings past their front gate during all those years. He called her “retard” and played cruel mind games with her. He deleted her password from the computer and refused to mail her letters to her family. He then threw her out and her dad had to make an expensive–and immediate–trip to pick her up.

Now she accepts the diagnosis!

But God has a plan for this young woman, just as He does for your son. Her parents, her mom in particular, have seen a return of some of the faith A. had as a child, and an understanding of how her own choices have helped to shape her destiny.

“I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil . . . .” Jeremiah 29:11

#2 Posted by kim (07.08.10 at 09:04 )

Ok I woke Craig up with my laughter!!!
and then proceeded to read this to him and he laughed at the “ass boogers” too!
That is just about the funniest thing I have heard in a long time!!!
I am so thankful telling E about his diagnosis went well
Kids are resilient – much more than we even give them credit for 🙂
And I love that now he knows he almost seems more confident – how awesome is that!!
God is good!
Much love
.-= kim´s last blog ..Shred day 20 =-.

#3 Posted by Tari (07.08.10 at 11:34 )

that is awesome! but it makes sense, in a way: he doesn’t see that word (except when so eloquently mis-pronounced) as negative or scary. to him, it’s just a word, and if it means what he struggles with, okay: that’s cool. they have a word for this? who knew?

it reminds me of a friend who inadvertently left the TV on and something inappropriate came on, complete with 4 letter words. she ran in to turn it off, and then realized her 4 children didn’t even flinch when those words were spoken. they had never heard them before, had no idea of their meanings, and therefore the “bad words” had no power over them. maybe “aspergers” has become a bit of a “bad word” for you (and no wonder why), but E is innocent of all of that. praise God!
.-= Tari´s last blog ..Why We Chose Public School =-.

#4 Posted by Trish (08.08.10 at 17:37 )

How wonderful this is to hear! Isn’t it amazing how things we worry about so much can be worked out so easily when we just wait for the right timing?

BTW, you won the copy of Cowboy & Wills that I was giving away! Can you email me with your mailing address so I can have the publisher send that out to you?
.-= Trish´s last blog ..National Autism Conference- First Day Recap =-.

#5 Posted by Molly (08.08.10 at 21:20 )

Oh how sweet is that. Your son now having a word to explain the in’s and out’s of his abilities. As mom’s we stress over so much and then our kids are like “oh, is that all…cool” and go on about their life like all we said was “the sky is blue”.

My son (who is now 15) has a friend who’s mother was concerned her child had Asperger Syndrome and when he and I were talking about it, thought I said Ass Burger-which still cracks him up.

Boy humor.

#6 Posted by Patty (08.08.10 at 22:26 )

I laughed so hard I snorted. I love it! “Ass boogers!” No wonder he was so offended!

This post really touched me though. I have wondered if we should talk with Danny and I don’t feel like now is the time, but I do think in the next year or so, he will probably be old enough to understand. Your story gives me hope that this discussion may not be as painful as I think. I am amazed at the resilience of our kids–they are so much more pragmatic at times than we, their parents, are. I hope that Danny learning of his diagnosis will aid him in understanding himself as it seems to have done for Edward.

Whenever I read stories about Edward I just wish Danny could meet him. I think they are so alike in so many ways! And I think Edward is amazing.
.-= Patty´s last blog ..road tripping adventures =-.

#7 Posted by JoyMama (09.08.10 at 14:36 )

Well, it’s good to know that he doesn’t have ass-boogers! 🙂

And even better that he now has a meaningful name for and a way to comprehend an important part of his “that’s me.”

.-= JoyMama´s last blog ..My Gal Is Red-Hot =-.

#8 Posted by Elizabeth (09.08.10 at 21:22 )

You all have given such thoughtful comments about this revelation, and I can’t tell you enough “thank you!” I know I labored (and still labor) under fear and guilt about this “word” but knowing that my son does *not* has given me more faith about the future and less fear.

#9 Posted by Niksmom (09.08.10 at 21:34 )

I flat out guffawed when I read the “ass-boogers” part! Too funny! Isn’t it amazing how well our children can cope with things we aren’t sure they can? I know we are a long way from having this kind of conversation with Nik, but reading about how well, how matter-of-factly, Edward handled it gives me great hope when our time comes.
.-= Niksmom´s last blog ..Riding the wild pony- trusting part two =-.

#10 Posted by Barbara (09.08.10 at 23:16 )

Add my congrats!

#11 Posted by Coreen Trost (11.08.10 at 00:14 )

Great post!! What a smart little man you have!!

I had someone recently tell me that she felt her son had A.S. but would not let him get tested because she didn’t want the ‘name’ or disability associated with him. ?? I’ve heard that before, however my son and I were relieved when he was 11 and finally had a diagnosis and Answer! My son is now twenty, in college and yesterday advocated for himself with a new staff member who didn’t know anything about him. He explained how he needed structure; how he had trouble reading and writing took him 10x longer, so he has a computer program that he talks to. He then called his advisor and explained his concerns about the new staff members and the changes from last year. His advisor said they would help him get through the changes.

I was so proud of him! How could he do those things if he didn’t understand and except his diagnosis? And how can either of us expect other people to accept his ‘differences’ if we don’t accept (admit) to them too?

Wonderful Post, Elizabeth! Thank you so much for sharing!!
.-= Coreen Trost´s last blog ..Silencing the Violence of Verbal Abuse =-.

#12 Posted by rhemashope (11.08.10 at 14:56 )

WOW. i love this post. love it!

and thank God he doesn’t have ass-boogers!
.-= rhemashope´s last blog ..Weekend in PA =-.

#13 Posted by mrsbear (23.08.10 at 10:26 )

I love that he took it all in stride. Except for the original misunderstanding. I don’t think any kid would be willing to bear the Ass-Boogers description. Edward is quite the kid.
.-= mrsbear´s last blog ..Now That Doesn’t Look Awful- Does It =-.

#14 Posted by danette (06.09.10 at 23:52 )

I love his reaction – both the first one (seriously cracked up laughing at that one!!) and when you had a chance to explain it to him. I totally get the stress over how and when and what to say, so glad it went well :).
.-= danette´s last blog ..Random tidbits =-.

#15 Posted by aspiegurl (28.11.13 at 13:37 )

I was diagnosed with Asperger’s when I was four and my mom told me when I was preadolescent or maybe 13 at oldest.

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