Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Asperger with no tomato

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 do?"
"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"


  1. Oh my god, that last bit... SO good.

    I'm glad you talked about it with him. My brother always knew what his diagnosis-of-the-week was, but it's not something we talked about as a family. Then again, by the time he was diagnosed, he was 14, and maybe a little too late to try to explain...

    But in one of his suicide notes, it focused on his inability to understand how or why he was different. There's no getting around it, though: he was different, and it's impossible to not notice. Same as your lovely boy. And maybe Nathan will never have to try to figure out what's different-- he'll know what's different, even if the "why" isn't something he can answer.

  2. No tomatoes on my asperger either. ;-)

  3. It was so FOREIGN to see someone refer to Nathan as disabled. But I knew at some point I would have to tell him.

    I just let him know that he's loved no matter what he is and that he doesn't have to be "normal". He just gets to be him.

    I am sorry that your brother and your family continues to struggle with it. I can't imagine how the burden continues to weigh on you. You are all brave and strong to keep moving forward.

  4. Kux,

    NO TOMATOES on my Asperger EVER!


    Mama Okusan Kux who still hates tomatoes!

  5. Aww. That was beautiful. I would think that giving him an early understanding or accepting words for himself would help him in the future.