Even before the official diagnosis of Asperger’s Syndrome, we knew our son Sam walked apart from the crowd. His early intense interest in a subject matter, and not in his peers, was the perfect mix for oddity starting the early sociable elementary years.
While we, as Sam’s parents, grew to walk alongside (and later celebrate) the unique perspective Sam had on the world, it was me who was shocked to be set apart from the crowd.
The elementary years were full of field trips, lunch visits, and homeroom activities. When it came time for picking groups for the field trips, my son was not one who other mothers wanted for their sons. At this early age, most mothers were positioning their children to be the best, only with the best, and we didn’t fit their criteria.
So for many of those early years Sam and I sat alone as other mothers invited the more social children to sit with them. After the shock and heartwrenching pain for my son, the realization sat in that I, too was isolated. Even the church we attended at the time had a children’s ministry that had no room for Sam.
How My Family Responded to Isolation
Our family had hit a harsh reality, so we decided to fight back in a way that did no harm to anyone, but bolstered our son’s confidence. We chose our son over the crowd. Together the four of us found a new church home, got interested in all things our sons were interested in, traveled on weekends (verses attending soccer games), and marched to a new rhythm.
Being apart from the crowd became the norm and our sons both flourished.
I write this not to feel sad or ‘wallow’ in self-pity. I write because this probably happens to many parents of a child on the spectrum. I want to encourage you to persevere and hold onto the unique qualities that are the very being of your Asperger child.
It does get easier the older they get, and the reward will be a son or daughter who knows that their uniqueness is a gift. Recently Sam was asked what it “felt” like to have Autism. His matter of fact reply was priceless: “Don’t think of Autism as a weight, think of it as a pair of wings”.
Being apart from the crowd is a great thing indeed.
By Jennifer Allen
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