The number of children diagnosed with Aspergers or other autism spectrum disorders seems to be growing. A primary teacher friend told me she had two such kids in her class this year, but that one was about average.
When Boy One was first noticed for his differences, it was still a scary prospect – no one understood, the world was still in the grip of the MMR nonsense and people looked at me pityingly.
Briefly, I wallowed at the pity party but then I had a word with myself. Neither my beautiful son nor I were victims, we just had a slightly different hand dealt than the one we’d anticipated. That’s all. Now that Boy is about to turn 16, he did well at one lot of exams and hopes are high for the next set. We’ve had conversations about universities. He’s funny and bright, interested and (as far as I know) content. What was all the fuss about?
If you had a diabetic child or one with asthma, you’d urge them to take control of their condition, understand it and find ways of overcoming problems. So I did the same with Boy One. It’s a long time ago, but here’s how it started. Eight years ago, I wrote this:
It’s been on my mind for a while.
I think that the time is coming to talk to both Boys about the older one’s condition.
In general, there are few situations which don’t benefit from getting everything out in the open, on the table and under the spotlight. So to speak.
So today in the blustery sunshine Boy One and I headed out to the Knapps Loch near Kilmacolm. Him armed with a notepad and pen to detail the changes necessary when he remodels the area as a Pokemon park – “that fence will have to go, but we’ll keep the cows”. Me mulling over the phrases I might need.
My opener: “Have you notice how you are different from all the other boys and girls in your class?”
His reply: “Of course mummy. Everyone is different and everyone is unique and everyone is an individual.”
I flailed around at this for a bit. Trying to point out the things which might mark him out, but he just wasn’t interested.
In desperation: “Have you heard of Asperger’s Syndrome?”
“Ass burger. Ass burger. Ass burger,” as he hooted with laughter, bent double and clutching his belly. “You just said the funniest thing ever.”
When a few feeble attempts to restart the conversation were greeted with helpless mirth I gave up.
Maybe we’ll have to put this conversation aside for a little while yet.
We had the conversation in the end, and many more like it.