We are two of a kind, Jordan and I. As a matter of fact, if you were to see us in passing, you would probably think that we are the typical mother/child pair. That, however, is far from true. I am typical, neurotypical (NT), that is. My Jordan is not. He is diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome (AS) which means he is on the autism spectrum.
Autism affects the lives of a significant number of people, and the numbers are growing. According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), one of every 88 children in the United States currently has autism. Persons with autism display deficits in social interaction and communication and have restricted, repetitive behaviors, interests, or activities.
Some would say autism is autism; there is no difference from one diagnosis to the other. However, there are others-like myself-who prefer the distinction. Simply put, the difference between an autism diagnosis and a diagnosis of AS is that a person with AS does not display significant deficits in communication.
Asperger’s Syndrome came crashing into our lives February 14, 2008, coincidentally, seven years to the day from Jordan’s birth. My son was the same as he had always been, but I would never be the same from the moment we sat down with the psychologist.
Even as I am writing, my world is shifting. AS has brought with it a myriad of emotions and a mountain of tasks for both myself and Jordan, but he is worth every tear, every smile, every argument, every agreeable moment, every “I love you!”
The words funniest couple was once used to describe us. We may be a couple, and we may be funny, but our journey is not easy. As I try to navigate through this thing called Asperger’s, I always try to remember that it is just a diagnosis and does not define my child. Over the years, I have learned at least three things that get us through the good, the bad, the ugly, and the beautiful.
- Pray – I know many of you may think that I would pray for my son’s deliverance from Asperger’s, yet I know that AS is a part of who he is, and I would not change that for the world. Instead, I pray a prayer of gratitude to a God who saw fit to entrust this special being in my incapable hands. I pray for guidance to help Jordan become the best person he can and achieve all he wants in life. Jordan prays for dragons to be real and for our safety.
- Research and Trial and Error – If I am ever puzzled, I look for an answer, ask questions, read a book (more like an excerpt from one), or Google it. The internet has become my best friend when it comes to research. Is everything I find on a subject the answer to our problems? No. Sometimes it works; other times, it doesn’t. The key is to continually try and never give up and to teach your child to do the same.
- Support – It helps to have people in your corner. Whether you join a support group or have people in your life that are willing to listen and help keep you sane when times get extremely rough, surround yourself with them. If you don’t seem to be able to find any in your immediate area, I have come across some amazing, supportive people on social media who understand what we face daily and are willing to share their experiences as well. Jordan has even made a friend or two who treats him well and helps him mature.
Jordan and I are a mother/child couple like no other. We have our own special rhythm and ways of communicating with one another. Many would refer to one-half of a couple as their better half. Jordan is not my better half; however, he is the half that makes me better. He makes me a better mother, a better teacher, and most importantly, a better person. Yes, Jordan has Asperger’s Syndrome, but AS does not have him.
Written by Parthenia Fields