Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Our Journey with Asperger Syndrome: The first steps

April is Autism Awareness Month. My son has autism spectrum disorder / Asperger Syndrome.

Giggling Mancub age 4. 

I truly dislike tagging a label on him. To me, he is perfection.

When someone pats me on the back for being a good mother I joke that God knew I'd be raising my son alone and provided me with a child who is easy to raise.

When Mancub was in pre-school it was obvious he had issues not adhering to some guidelines. Quick change of schedule or altering the food menu would cause a melt down. He never had such tantrums when we were one on one so it made little sense to me. Then again, I am a creature of habit. It was rare for us to deviate.

Once, he 'lost his mind' -- their words--  when they had to do self portraits and he colored his eyes green. His eyes are chocolate brown. The teacher argued with him that his eyes were not green. They had him look in a mirror to prove him wrong. He insisted that his eyes couldn't be brown because "Mommy has green eyes." Eventually, they caved to his insistence and let him keep the green eyes on his picture. I was impressed that my 3.5 year old son knew the color of my eyes.

OK, maybe that was just a cute story and not so much that of a sign he had spectrum disorder.

When Kindergarten rolled around his father and I were going through a divorce. Mancub had several uncontrollable outbursts which required my presence in the principal's office. The principal reminded me of Jackie Gleason in Smokey and the Bandit. He had a similar build and southern drawl. "Your chil' is hypah- kinetic and we feel he would benefit from medication."

Really? I searched his walls for documentation in psychology and or a medical degree. None existed. He didn't even have a PhD. I pointed it out that he wasn't a medical professional. He didn't look on that kindly. However, to appease him, an appointment was made with our physician who quickly assessed what Mancub needed was understanding and patience, but absolutely not medication. He suggested I keep a food diary and track his behavior. "Reduce the amount of tuna and red dye." Mancub loved... thrived on tuna salad in a bowl (he didn't need bread). He didn't want cereal for breakfast. He insisted on tuna salad. Lunch? You guessed it. Kids are often meal repeaters -- I know people who eat nothing but chicken fingers -- but tuna is chock full of mercury where it once wasn't on the list.

We struggled for a year in Kindergarten at that particular school. At the end of the year it was determined that Mancub hadn't progressed socially and it was strongly suggested that he repeat the grade. I was devastated. However, I had to let go of my ego. This wasn't about me, but my child's success. We re-enrolled for Kindergarten but only if he had a different teacher. He stayed at that school for only a portion of the semester. Circumstances pushed me to choose to remove him from that school and transfer him to a school located closer to me. His father and I were living separately. It seemed the logical thing to keep Mancub in the school he started in, but it became stressful transporting him. Plus, events perpetuated by his dad made it easy to make the decision. A decision that would prove to be the wisest thing I ever did in regards to Mancub's education and journey toward proper diagnosis.

Enter Rose Barton at Mount Vernon Elementary School in Gainesville, GA.

.... to be continued
...... Autism Awareness Month is 30 days long. Our story will take at least that long to share


1 comment:

  1. Being a responsive parent, one sensitive to the needs of their child, and one who is willing to move in order to facilitate the best thing for their child is in my opinion one of the most important things we can do for our kids. Your advocacy and commitment to Spenser is exactly why he is who he is today. Each of us is unique, with special talents and needs. Only when we embrace the individuality of the learner can we see transformation before our eyes. Congratulations Mancub's Mom...you are a champion.

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