Communication is vital to our existence. Body language, engaging in conversation, and physical touch all nurture us and help us interact with each other.
What if you didn’t have the instinct to interact, or engage, or touch? Sounds kind of lonely, huh?
Asperger’s Syndrome, a form of Autism, is a developmental disorder that can be characterized by lack of social interaction…among other things.
I didn’t know a lot about autism. I knew some of the signs of classic Autism, but Asperger’s was a new concept to me. So when I learned that my Tucker was on the Autism spectrum coupled with an unforgiving sensory disorder, I dove deep into a pool of neurological overload of my own.
Tucker was diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome in May 2011. I wasn’t really shocked. I was sort of relieved. It was refreshing, in a sense, to know that I would finally (hopefully) learn the answer to the riddle that is Tucker. But I was scared. I am scared. Scared that I can’t create the best environment for him. Scared that I won’t be a good enough advocate for him at school. Scared that he won’t learn how to fit in.
My journey into the unknown began long before the diagnosis; clearly the journey began the day Tucker was born.
Tucker was a great baby who loved to just sit in his bouncy seat and take in the sights. He didn’t talk until after two-years-old, and don’t even ask about potty-training. He loved Matchbox cars, although he didn’t really play with them. He just carried them around, and then lined them up. He would throw a big tantrum if he couldn’t fit all of his favorites, usually seven, into his tiny hands. He slept well at night and was a happy boy.
He would run everywhere. Through the house, out the door, down the street. I had to keep all doors locked so he wouldn’t get out of the house and out of sight before I knew it! It was all fun and games to him.
He was wild in church every Sunday. He would run out of his small children’s group often and I was summonsed to come tend to him. But when he got to preschool his world was devastated. He was in a room with 17 other children, and there was no escaping.
The first day of preschool a note came home. It read “Tucker kicked, growled, and spit at me.” Poor Ms. Hall; we had our work cut out for us. A diagnosis of ADHD came that year and medication began.
Kindergarten was quite an adventure as well. Tucker seemed to make real progress that year adjusting to a classroom environment.
Each year was a new trial of every ADHD medication known to man, and a new classroom and teacher to adjust to. And each year was very unpredictable. This year Tucker has occupational therapy at school, as well as an Individual education plan which helps him stay in a regular classroom but have certain elements of his learning process altered.
Outside of school things are very challenging. I strive to keep a routine at home, and Tucker’s few favorite foods on hand. Currently we are involved in in-home therapy. Our therapist is a part of our home life during certain hours of the week and he also goes places with us. I’m learning new techniques so I can help Tucker cope with triggers that overwhelm him. As Tucker gets older it’s harder for him to understand that he can’t properly interpret the emotions of himself or others.
Luckily, there is so much support available for families that need guidance and therapies for Autism.