The other day, I got a letter in Nathan's backpack. It was asking me if I wouldn't mind having someone come in to talk to Nathan's class about his disability. (For the record, Nate is in an intergrated class room with another two SPED students) I stopped for a second and just stared at the word. Disability. I don't think about Nathan that way. I've never treated him like he has a disability. And the kicker....I didn't think I had ever even told Nathan that he had Asperger's. I had a lot of personal processing to do in regards to dealing with this concept. My son has a disability.
In some ways, he is disabled. He doesn't process things, see things or hear things the same way other people do. He struggles with language to tell me what his needs are. His hyperactivity can keep him up until 11PM at night. His dietary requirements can put a damper in what I can feed him due to his sensory processing issues and his distaste of condiments. But I had never even considered him disabled. He's Nathan. He's awesome. As his mother, I have learned to adapt to his ever changing needs. But unlike the Borg, I don't have tubes coming out of my face and telling him as he's doing his homework that "Resistance is Futile". (Though, truly, if Nathan thought I was half cyborg/half organic I would win the Cool Mom lottery FOREVER.
In light of this event, I decided that it was time to have THE TALK. But I didn't want it awkward, or scary, or shameful. I didn't want him to feel bad. I was pretty sure he knew he was different. I wanted to let him know WHY he was different and that it was okay for him to be different. I sat him down the other night and said, "Buddy, I want to talk to you about something. You know how some people might have asthma or diabetes and they say, 'I have diabetes' or 'I have asthma'?"
"Yeah", he said.
"Well, you have something, too. You have Asperger's Syndrome." "I have Asperger's Syndrome?" he asked.
"Yes. Asperger's Syndrome sometimes makes it hard for you to do your school work, hard for you to focus and hard for you to understand people in social situations."
"You mean like in social group?"
"And that's why I'm different?"
"Yes, but I love you because you are different."
"You know I do, buddy. I would love you no matter what you are or what you have. You are special and I am thankful you are who you are."
I asked him what did Asperger's sound like. He said, "I don't know." I said, "What about burger?" "You mean like cheeseburger?" he asked. I nodded. "What would be on your Asperger?" I asked.
"Ummm...lettuce, cheese, onions, more lettuce, cheese..."
"What kind of cheese?" I asked.
"Whole cheese." he said. "And bananas!"
"So, what do you have?" I asked.
"I have your love," he said. I smiled.
"No, what do you have?" I asked again.
"I have a heart," he said. I giggled.
"Silly, what do you have that I told you?"
"I have Asperger's"