5.30.2009

I never finished telling you about Jordan

Because I didn't want to think about it.

Yes, he has Asperger's. Or, rather, he has "symptoms which indicate a diagnosis of Asperger's"...because God forbid anyone call a spade a spade.

What this means, in a nutshell, is that he has a social disability. The social cues that come naturally to most people are muddled and hazy for him. The dexterity it takes to undertake engagements like making a new friend, deciding which line to choose in a busy store, or small-talk with a cashier is very difficult for him. It's all like a second language to him. He can learn it, piece by piece, but it's slow and awkward and frankly, too much trouble for some people to even bother with him.

I guess I never thought about the fluid way most of us can size each other up and respond in a matter of milliseconds. Body language, facial expressions and tone can speak volumes in a heartbeat. This very morning I shared a glance with another mother, also standing in line for the balloon man at the Farmer's Market, about a bratty little kid who was busy announcing that the Tooth Fairy was a ruse. "What can you do?" said my half-glance. "His mother should stuff him in a closet," said hers. Full communication, over before anyone else (hopefully) noticed. This kind of thing is out of Jordan's reach.

So there's that. But I'll tell you the truth here: I'm glad the cards are on the table. Over the years he has done and said enough odd-ball things for the adults who are close to him to know something was a little bit different. And now that we can look at the thing--now that it's been named--we've all pretty much said, so what?

Sure, we've taken some steps to give him an edge. He's in a fantastic social skills group in school. I'm very grateful to Lincoln Elementary that they have been pro-active about what he'll need throughout his grade-school years. The teachers are wonderful. And at home we're working on things like explaining ourselves clearly and using feeling words, getting him together with lots of friends, and working with him to help him be as graceful and well-rounded as possible.

But again--so what if he has Asperger's? He's who he is. We really don't even want to talk about it much. In a way it's like finding out your kid has some bad cavities, or needs glasses. Get him what he needs, guide him toward health, and let him go.

I guess Bill Gates also has "symptoms of Asperger's". As did Albert Einstein. And Benjamin Franklin. Getting the picture? Sure, Jordan's a little bit different. But so is Scott and so am I. We went through some shit, but we made it. And we hope Jordan will make it even farther.

1 comment:

Turnermom said...

You have a terrific attitude Robin. This is great. Jordan will find his way due in large part, to your attitude. Keep on truckin.