Saturday, February 5, 2011

Autism is a Gift (sometimes)

So, this post has nothing to do with fitness.  However, my son has been on my mind lately so I feel the need to write about him.   My dear boy, Anthony... he is 9-years old and has been blessed with Asperger's Syndrome, a high functioning type of Autism.  I use the term "blessed" because our son wouldn't be who he is without his disabilty.  He knows more than anyone I know about the US Presidents and US History.  Not only does he know the names and order of all 44 Presidents, but he can tell you their years in office, the year they were born, the year they died, if they were democrat or republican, etc...I could go on and on.  He is also the Jeopardy King. We watch Jeopardy every night together and he just cannot figure out how I made it through life without being "smart".  With all of the blessings comes some challenges.  Anthony has a  bit of an issue with socialization.  Though he has friends, he is not aware of many social boundaries and can come across as "annoying" or "quirky/geeky". (GEEKS ROCK!) However, because he truly believes he doesn't need friends, he is quite resilient and stands up for himself.  Last week was pajama day in school and apparently it's not "cool" for the fourth grade boys to wear PJs to school.  So, Anthony announced to his fourth grade  on the day before PJ Day the following:  "I just want you all to know that I will be wearing the truck pajamas that my Nana bought me for Christmas.  Many of you may think that the PJs are babyish, but I will be wearing them."  He was the only boy in his class wearing PJs and he was so proud of it.  Yesterday, he went to the orthodontist and had this horrible piece of hardware put in his mouth (a palette expander).  He spits everytime he talked and FORGET about eating and drinking.  He reminds me of Joan Cusak in Sixteen Candles when she was trying to drink from the water fountain with her head gear attached.  The poor kid was mortified to go to school on Friday.  He was so afraid that he would be made fun of and frankly, I was too.  I wanted to put a shirt on him that said.  "If you make fun of me, my mom will make YOUR mom drop and give her 50".  I cannot always be there to protect him though :( When Anthony came home from school after a very long day of me worrying, he had a huge metal smile across his face.  I asked him how his day was and he said "GREAT".  I asked if the kids made fun of him and he said that no one did. Thank you Skano parents for teaching your children to respect others :)  He told me that he announced to everyone that he had an expander put in his mouth and that his speech would sound funny.  I love this kid...He then told me that he was practicing talking all day and that it was gettting easier to talk.  This kid is a real trouper.  He has been faced with huge challenges and he always manages to rise to the occasion.  His disability has been a HUGE challenge for him and for his Dad, brother and I.  We have always looked at his Asperger's as a challenge but also a blessing.  We have never had "poor me" syndrome and we certainly do not walk around with a storm cloud over our heads. We use humor and laugher to embrace his strengths and challenges.  He is an absolute blessing.  He has come so far and there is so much hope and support out there for kids on the Autsim Spectrum.  At this moment he is curled up with a book called "Extraordinary Women" (about historical superstar women).  He will be able to tell us all about the wonderful things that Clara Barton, Mother Jones, Elizabeth Eckford and many other women have done to pave the way for women.  Saratoga County, Skano and Shen School District have been exremely supportive and are contributing to his success.  He WILL be the next Alex Trebek or who knows...the next US Presdient.  Rock on, Anthony :)

1 comment:

  1. So proud of YOU, Melissa. He is the awesome and amazing kid that he is because of you, Matt & Austin. You have always embraced the challenge and pursued all avenues of support without hesitation. So many parents don't want to acknowledge there is anything "wrong" with their kids, but it was never that way for you. It wasn't about fixing something that was wrong, it was encouraging and supporting what is so right, and working to make the weaknesses strengths! You are an incredible family and I will totally work on Anthony's campaign, if he'll have me, Mr. Smarty Pants!!