In high school, one of our assignments in English was to journal on various topics. I typically hated the act of journaling. Not due to a lack of anything to write about, but because I felt it was intensely personal at times. I wasn’t a person who let many people close. I felt safer in relationships based on my terms. And if not for one assignment and one teacher that pushed back when I needed it I wouldn’t feel comfortable sharing our adventures.
It was close to the end of senior year. We only had a few weeks left and I opened my heart in a journal entry. I did not think she would actually read it, only check that it fit the length requirement. I laid out my insecurities about my feelings of being mediocre. My friends were all accomplished in some talent or another. Some were talented actors and are now starting theatre companies, some were brainiacs and heading to Berkeley or later became PhD’s researching cures for cancer, some were wildly creative and are now making fantastic art and children’s books. I was a straight A student, but I wasn’t going to a top-notch college. I lettered in two sports, but I was far from the best on the team. Math was ok when it was just numbers, but throw in some letters and I was completely lost. I could draw a little; I was in the choir, and on the yearbook staff. I felt silly for not feeling good enough when I had so much to be thankful for. And I was good at a lot of different things.. just not GREAT at anything; unless you count not panicking or ridiculous organizational skills as something to be great at. Or my ability to always finish first on tests. When I got my journal back there was a 2-page handwritten letter tucked in at that spot of my journal. Not only had she read the entry, she had listened to my fears and responded in a way that touched me. She wrote, “You have a smile that will light up the room. When it’s gone I wonder what is happening that makes you so sad.” I still have that letter.
That was the beginning for me. She made me feel good about my well-roundedness. I didn’t need to be a rocket scientist, or a famous actor.. I just needed to be happy to be me. I’m still just ok at a lot of different things, but when you have a child on the spectrum you have to be good at a lot of different things! We have conversations about the differences between battery power and electric power. What the center of the earth is made of. What two colors make orange. Why we shouldn’t destroy Jupiter (because it saves earth from meteors). Not to mention being able to come up with creative consequence and reward systems. I also build mini Lego sets for creating pictorial instructions for him (this uses my creativity, engineering, photography and photoshopping abilities). Today, the three traits I value the most in our daily life is my anti-panic personality, my need to organize everything, and my weird ability to remember just about everything I read. (I don’t know what Asperger parents did before Google.. I guess they spent more time in the Library). Staying calm, providing structure, and teaching are the most important things for our Aspie.
I hope that relating our adventures will help someone else struggling with this new and different world seen through Aspie-tinted glasses. My goal is to teach my children (all of them) to be happy with who they are, whatever characteristics and talents they are born with. I want them to be happy being them. As a mom of course I want them to enjoy going to school and to be able to make friends, so whatever we can do to make that easier we are willing to try.
At the beginning of this blogging adventure I have so many things to share that it’s difficult to pick what to start with. I have friends and family asking questions and getting excited about changes they can make, because the diet changes are not just for those specifically on the spectrum. It will help those with anxiety, depression, ADD, ADHD, diabetes, asthma, eczema and allergies. We have started a healthier way of eating and are seeing the benefits (if not in behavior yet) in mood and looks.
I want to start by answering the questions I’m getting, but they are not necessarily in chronological order, or any kind of order really. It wouldn’t be an adventure without a little bit of winding road, right? If there is something you would specifically like to hear about.. like what Cullen’s behavior was like, what books I read, what a certain recipe was.. please ask!!