There’s a truth to parenting that neither Catherine nor I really thought about until we transitioned from husband and wife into dad and mom: this thing is always in flux. Although there’s a start to parenthood, there isn’t an end. There are no true rule books because everyone is different. And despite what we’re trained by mainstream media (yup, I mean Hollywood) to believe, there is no cookie-cutter template for “parent,” or family, for that matter.
That’s my preamble to the news we received this week about our boy.
A few months ago we realized we’d enrolled him in a preschool whose fun, natural and creative philosophy simply wasn’t meant for him. There was the parent-teacher conference that was called after some problems he was having interacting with his classmates. And shortly thereafter, the realization that a lot of the problems described to us matched the findings of the public school system’s initial preschool screening over a year ago: something about needing social/emotional help. So we pulled him out of preschool and initiated a more involved screening with the school to see what we might learn.
The final report came in Tuesday afternoon: our son has Asperger’s Syndrome. The public school system officially uses the label of autism, but in describing him as being on a spectrum, they mention his developed vocabulary and high cognitive scores. Today’s visit to Children’s Hospital & Clinics provided additional confirmation from the medical standpoint.
While this discovery has huge implications for our boy–for the rest of his life–it’s a positive discovery in that we’ve acknowledged it so early in his schooling and are able to adjust his educational path before his classmates’ (and our society’s) stigmas cloud his self-awareness and emotional state. Asperger’s is not curable. But by acknowledging the role his condition plays in his social interactions, learning experiences and behaviors at home, we (or any adult, peer, etc. who spends time with him) will help him overcome as best he can.
I would be lying if I said I wasn’t sad or a little down. But I think that’s the uncertainty speaking more than anything else. And that really doesn’t make any sense, since none of us knows what comes next anyway. Asperger’s or not. Life is about being uncertain.
Our son is a strong boy, a smart boy, and a boy with a supportive network of family, friends and teachers. That’s the best “cure” he’s going to get. Time to take the next step with my family on this journey.