“Mommy,” my eldest son said as we were driving, “I just read a book about a kid who has Autism and it sounded like me.”
“Oh really?” I asked, careful to keep my voice level and steady. “Do you think you have Autism?”
“Maybe,” he replied before asking, “how can we find out?” I thought for a moment then replied,“You can get tested. Do you want to do that?” He nodded, “yes.”
I have known for a very long time that Micah probably has Asperger’s.
In response to problems at school and behaviors that I observed, I sleuthed around online. He fit almost all of the “typical” pieces of a person with Asperger’s: social behavior and social interaction, love for rules and structure, intense subject absorption, hyperactivity (in an inability to sleep at night), and a near-savant level of intellect.
The only things really, in which he does not fall into a “perfect” mold for a child with Asperger’s is that he has a great sense of humor and makes excellent eye contact with me. That may be the simple result of having a deaf mom that absolutely needs eye contact and non-verbals to communicate, who knows?!
Disability Is a Natural Part of the Human Experience
In our house, disability is emphatically not a bad thing. It’s an aspect to our lives, a part of who we are. It’s the framework upon which we experience our world.
Having my son say that he thinks he might be on the Autism spectrum is an exciting chance for him to understand himself better, and for me to understand him better.
For me, understanding him makes it easier to access tools that can help him, connect him with resources, and see potential bends and twists in the path that he will navigating for his life. For him, it’s a chance to connect with a defined tribe. A chance to realize that he’s not so different after all and he’s not alone.
A diagnosis is not a sad thing. It can help turn on the “a-ha!” lightbulb
It’s like wondering why your child can’t read even though they are of an age that others do, and they are obviously intelligent. You wonder and try and figure it all out and it’s so frustrating when the dots don’t add up to form a coherent picture. Then when you figure out your child has dyslexia , it all clicks and make sense – it’s like the proverbial light bulb goes off and your head kind of explodes, “oh so that’s why…!!”
That’s what it feels like with our clicking in place of Asperger’s: “oh, so that’s why….!!”
A diagnosis is simply a name, a label that is given to a particular group of symptoms, manifestations (whatever you want to call it) that a body is expressing.
It can – and should be – be a tool to help understand a person better.
It does not have to be some kind of earth-shattering thing; it can be as casual and easy as a conversation between a son and his mother while driving.
Meriah Nichols is a career counselor. Solo mom to 3 (one with Down syndrome, one gifted 2E). Deaf, with C-PTSD and TBI, she’s also a gardening nerd who loves cats, Star Trek, and takes her coffee hot and black.