Well, not so much a secret in the sense that I don't want anyone to know, but a secret that only those within my circle know. I've not found the way to blog about it without sounding negative or inviting a pity party over for the evening so I've just avoided it. But, in avoiding it I feel like I'm hiding it, like I'm ashamed but that isn't the case either. So, I've just avoided it.
I am the mom to a child on the Autism spectrum... and it's hard.
There are few days that pass by that I don't think "this is the hardest thing I've ever had to do, God, please don't let me screw this up." We didn't get an Asperger's/Autism diagnosis until Jacob was nearly 11 years old. For years we chugged along with speech therapy, doctor's appointments, medication and living in a semi-constant state of frustration on both his part and ours. One blessed teacher raised the concern that she thought something else was the root of our issues and another full evaluation ensued. She was right. Once we researched Asperger's, we realized we were reading our child on paper.
So, from then on we had the "why" to many of our frustrations; things that were once cloudy suddenly became crystal clear. The lack of physical contact, the tactile issues, the loud noises that bothered him, all of it; it all made sense now. But, having the "why" didn't give a clear answer on the new question of "now how do I deal with it?" I felt bad, and still do, about getting so upset with him over things in the past that I now realize were most likely beyond his control. Now I try to remember those behaviors, but there are still days, many of them in fact, that I have a hard time remembering the why of our situation and pass straight through to "I can't deal with this today." The why gives no magic fix, no miracle jar of patience, no magic pill can fix it; it is just simply a reason why some things happen.
But, along with the issues of Asperger's that are hard to manage at times comes the silver lining that makes Jacob, Jacob.
He is brilliant.
We've always suspected Jacob was a bright child but this year it was confirmed to us when colleges started pursuing him to take resident courses over the summer. Living in the dorm and taking college classes for a month as a 13 year old; that certainly wasn't something I remember being offered in my youth! This past week we took Jacob to a statewide recognition ceremony for the Duke TIP program. He was nominated for the program due to scores on his annual standardized tests and then took the ACT in December. This was the regular ACT and he scored the same as an average senior in high school. Duke TIP invited all the 7th graders from the state who scored high enough to a recognition ceremony and Jacob was very excited to attend. In the auditorium I felt at home; a peace that comes from watching my son feel like he belongs with the peers around him. I saw him acting comfortable and even striking up a conversation with a boy behind him; something he has been working towards for two years. Jacob is usually a child of few words and that day he was chatty and told me several times that he was excited to be there.
It was my slice of Italy when I usually try to accept the fact that we arrived in Holland many years ago.
Did you know that Bill Gates, Alfred Hitchcock, Isaac Newton, Jim Henson, Thomas Jefferson, Michaelangelo, Mozart, and even Albert Einstein were all diagnosed with Asperger's Syndrome?
This gives me hope.Hope that Jacob will not be limited by the challenges of Asperger's in his lifetime. And as we chug along deciphering teenage behaviors from Asperger's behaviors we cling to that hope that his intelligence will carry him above Asperger's and he will accomplish all he sets out to in life.God gave us this child, our oldest boy, for a reason. It wasn't an accident, it wasn't a mistake, and though sometimes I want to get bitter and mad at the doctor who messed up the end of my pregnancy and find someone to blame, I can't. Jacob being born to two young 20 somethings was a very deliberate act of God. We have him, and he us, for a reason.