Thursday, June 21, 2012

Life with an Aspergers Child

When Brandon was in the 3rd grade, we were given the news that Brandon had Aspergers.  That sounds like he has a disease, and although that is how I felt for quite some time, I am now learning the blessings of having a child with Aspergers!  Yes, I said blessings!  That comment is in no way to demean the trials and tribulations parents and children go through when Aspergers or any Autism Spectrum Disorder (I hate that word!) is present.  It has been about 5 years since we got our diagnosis.  At first, I just wanted to fix my baby!  I wanted to help him get better, I wanted the magic therapy, I wanted him to be just like everyone else!  It wasn't until I read a booked by Jon Elder Robison called Look Me in the Eyes, that I truly began to see the wonders and amazing things about being an aspergian, as Mr, Robison calls himself.  I highly recommend that book!
I cannot begin to tell you how it feels to have aspergers, but I can tell you how it feels to have a child that is struggling and have absolutely no idea how to help them!    It is the worst feeling in the world!  I started out feeling guilty.  What had I done to cause this??  Why can't he be cured??  Is it because we don't have enough money or intelligence to get the cure???    I am sure (now) that I am not the only parent to ever have those thoughts!
After LOTS of reading and research on Autism Spectrum Disorders, I still felt lost.  But the more I read and the more I researched and the more I talked with other Mom's, I slowly began to forgive myself for whatever it was I did to cause this.   Now we all know that I did not "cause" Brandon to have aspergers, but I think that is just how we mom's are wired!  
When I first read Disconnect Kids by Dr. Melillo, that was when I started to have hope that there was actually an explanation for ASD and ways to help!  We took Brandon to the Brain Balance clinic in Overland Park KS.  Brandon went through two half days of testing.  The clinic director was wonderful!  She confirmed things that I already suspected and brought to light a lot more I did not understand!  After trying to help him on my own at home,  one of my friends told me about a clinic in Fayetteville that incorporates the brain balance program into the Therapies they offer.  Now this is not the first clinic Brandon had taken Occupational Therapy, but it has by far shown the most results!  I love his therapist, Debbie!  I believe that she is so good with him because she has a son with similar issues, so it is person with her.  She has told me things that have been a great help to her son, and understands the issues that we face daily.
It seems that most kids on the spectrum aren't lucky enough to have their issues stop there.  Its pretty common from what I have been told to have food allergies, asthma, and a slue of other medical issues!  My son has lots of food allergies, wheat, barley, rye, oats, gluten, milk and yeast are not his friends!  He has lots of textural/tactile problems as well.  He has asthma, that by the grace of God is controlled by meds.  We recently discovered that he does not produce adequate growth hormones. Therefore we have started growth hormone shots.  B actually gives them to himself a lot of the time!  Sometimes I think he just doesn't want to do it, so he comes in before he goes to bed with his med pen, needle tip and alcohol swab and just looks at me and grins.  Love that boy!
Well, so far, I haven't really revealed the blessings....  believe me there are a lot of them!
Although you can not generalize with ASD, because every child has different symptoms, there are a lot of traits that prove to be true.  Here are a few wonderful things that I contribute to ASD.
Brandon is probably to most honest child I have ever met.  Its like he doesn't know how to lie.  Sometimes being painfully honest, but I can always count on Brandon to tell the truth.
His mind is amazing!  When B describes things or begins to tell you about his current infatuation, you will see things in a way that you would have never thought to look!  I believe that is a wonderful gift.
When he is interested in something, it is just about impossible to distract or take him away from that.  He will eat, sleep and breathe it.  Just think of all the aspergians in the past that if they didn't look at something differently or just gave up because it was too hard, we would not have a lot of the inventions, technology, music, art that we have today!  They say Genius is just on the line of Insanity, well, I believe that all those genius' out there are really Aspergians!  Albert Einstein for instance.  He was so smart and creative, but he couldn't tie his shoes.  (Or comb his hair HA!)
I know that God has given this gift to Brandon, and although I don't understand it now, He has great plans for my baby!
I love to see Brandon's smile, hear his laugh, listen to him play the piano, see his love for reading and thirst for knowledge that seems unquenchable!  Everyday I see a new blessing that has come from ASD.  I hope that never changes.

Now, I am just trying to help B to learn how to communicate with his peers, to feel as confident as he can and learn to control and alleviate the stress and anxiety he feels on a daily basis, just so he can have the best life he can!  I don't want him to be 'fixed' or 'cured', actually that would be a tragedy.

We have good days and bad days, but I truly hope and pray that Brandon will never loose sight of his wonderful gift that God has given him. No matter how hard it is to see sometimes.


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