And here's where the trouble started. Jordan does not like accents. He likes things to be as they usually are, and since Mrs H does not have an accent, that was wrong. In the midst of the celebrations, he turned himself to the wall, started his rhythmic rocking, and said, "Stop talking like that. Stop talking like that. Stop talking like that." Over and over and over.
Now, I had warned our friend Mrs H that Jordan was sometimes a little, well, off. I suppose it's a plus that it took until December before she saw what I was talking about (I told her a few times, only to be given the patient, patronizing smile pediatricians save for overweening mothers). But still. Here we are. The cat is out of the bag.
She wanted to know whether I considered that Jordan may have Aspergers Syndrome.
Considered it? Oh, I've considered it. I've considered it every time he gets stuck in one of his myriad ruts and can only fight his way out by having a first-class, full-blown tantrum. I've considered it when he screams at the top of his lungs when anyone sings "Happy Birthday"; when he burns his tongue on anything too spicy and has to fling himself on the floor and wail; when he balks at the idea of doing anything outside of his usual routine; when he spends hours thumping against the seat back in the car; or when he drops his toy on the car floor at a point when we can't stop and screams"I want my Scooby Doo van! I want my Scooby Doo Vaaaaaaaaaaaan!" for approximately forty-five minutes.
But the part that really worries me is his difficulty with social situations. For instance: last summer a few kids came by while their parents were looking at a rental next door. They were attracted to our monstrous playset in the back yard. "Hey," said the kids. "Hey," said Maya, who was four. Jordan completely ignored them until they ignored him too, and then suddenly he launched at them and said, "We have a lawn mower!" This behavior is just plain weird. That was obvious by the looks on these kids' faces.
Recently we learned that at recess, he goes out, stands by the flagpole and waits until the bell rings to go back inside. Either that, or wanders the perimeter of the grounds.
Still, it's all subtle enough that he could be characterized as an "odd child". I was an "odd child", and so was Scott, so it's a pretty easy leap to make--until he does something so unusual that it catches the attention of the school. And believe me, with 25 kids to a classroom, it is not easy to catch attention.
When his teacher brought up the Polar Express incident I felt the usual onrush of panic, guilt, and despair. It's a cocktail of emotion that makes my blood feel like it's been suddenly replaced by mercury. Over the course of Jordan's lifetime, it has been suggested many times that perhaps there is actually something wrong with him, but on Monday I decided it was time to take the tiger by the tail.
He has been seeing a school counselor to do "social group". I contacted her. She confirmed that he does display symptoms of Aspergers.
I then got in touch with the college to get him scheduled for an assessment in their clinic. The doctor in charge said their students were looking for experience; I assured him that Jordan would be an experience, all right.
I went online and skimmed enough to conclude that Jordan does, in fact, behave like a kid who has Aspergers. For those who don't know, Aspergers is like Autism Lite. In some cases, like Jordan's, it can be so Lite that you might not even notice it--for a while. But sooner or later the odd social behavior, mannerisms, focused interest on a few topics and use of highly adult language will catch someone's eye. Like his teacher's, for example.
So we're going to get him assessed. There was some discussion about the wisdom of this--we don't want to pigeonhole him, etc etc. But the fact is in today's society if you want to get any help you have to have a label, preferably one with a code that can be written on forms in triplicate.
Will he get a label? Will we get some help? Will he be able to deliberately learn skills that most of us are born knowing? Will we be able to sing "Happy Birthday" in the future without putting him in a soundproof room? Only time will tell.