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Why I'm Relieved My Son Has Asperger Syndrome

Why I'm Relieved My Son Has Asperger Syndrome

My son was finally diagnosed with Asperger syndrome at the age of 9. I say "finally" because, as many special-needs parents can tell you, the road to diagnosis is a rough one, often filled with roadblocks and detour signs. When he was diagnosed, as strange as it may sound, I was relieved.

As a community member who goes by the name Ms. Undead shares, I knew my son had always "been different" than other kids and that he met some of the criteria for Asperger syndrome — but not all of them. I spent a lot of time explaining to people that he had characteristics that were "Asperger-like" but that we didn't know exactly what was wrong with him.

I also spent a lot of time feeling like I needed to defend myself, to explain the behaviors that made it look as though I wasn't being an effective parent. Amanda N. could be speaking of my son when, on a discussion in the Autism/Asperger's/PDD Awareness community, she shares of her's, "As he got older, more and more signs [and] behaviors surfaced."

Right now my son is in a treatment center to help him learn to manage the meltdowns and "perseverative behavior" (or, as Brenda D. explains it, "getting stuck on something") that accompany this disorder. He's away from home for the second time in the past three months, so you would think I don't have a lot of reason to be relieved about his diagnosis, but I do.

  • I'm relieved that this diagnosis allowed us to enroll him in a multidisciplinary, family-focused treatment center for children with developmental disorders. It's one of only 11 of its kind across the nation that provide treatment for the whole child, combining medical, educational, sensory, speech, and family work. We tried a treatment center that focused mainly on medication and behavior. It didn't help as much as we had hoped it would.
  • I'm relieved that finally having a diagnosis gives me a way to push for appropriate accommodations at school for a kid who doesn't have any learning disabilities but whose disability affects his learning. When I read Kristel B.'s frustrated vent about her son being "sent home from school for bad behavior, again," I knew only too well what she meant. The phone rings in our house and my heart drops, my stomach turns, and I start to hyperventilate, thinking it's the school calling yet again about some incident or another.
  • I'm relieved that I finally have something to tell people about my son that they might possibly be able to understand. After all, people have heard of Asperger syndrome. They may not understand what it means, but I'm happy to tell them about the diagnosis and send them in the right direction to find more information.

Mostly though, I am relieved my son has Asperger syndrome because I finally belong to a group of moms who can understand me: Asperger moms. Again, Kristel put words to my feelings when she said, "I have felt so alone and isolated for so long."

Now I only have to feel isolated if I choose to isolate myself. I have communities to turn to here and in real life, in which people understand me and my struggles with little to no explanation. I am one of them. All those moms of kids with Asperger's, whether they are named or unnamed, known to me or unknown, I am one of them. That's a huge relief.

Image Source: Flickr user tamckile
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JudyFoster41194 JudyFoster41194 3 years
Love your story.. I too am a mom of a child now a teen with aspergers. My sons diagnosis arrived about the same age as your child after many struggles at school. My luck changed when a wonderful group of teachers decided to take interest in his quirks. The day I was told i cried because for the first time someone realized he was not what some would call a bad child. Once we were able to set goals, learn how to communicate to get understanding, surround him with the things he needs to be successful - life changed for the better. My son is now in High School accelerated academic classes and has some great friends. Every year we are presented with new challenges but continue to receive the support he needs to succeed. He embraces his difference although challenging. My son has his sights on college in the near future, something that at times i was not sure would have been possible. Not a day goes by that I am not thankful for the people who saw what i knew in my heart was a wonderful child who is amazing in a quirky kind of way.
MeganFoster78747 MeganFoster78747 4 years
Thank you for sharing! My son who is 6 was just diagnosed a couple of weeks ago. I completely understand the feeling of "relief". I felt as if so much had been lifted off me and I knew what direction to go in now. It's very comforting to now I'm not the only parent struggling with this.
LoriMasucci LoriMasucci 4 years
For those people who are taking issue with the wording of the title, I must respectfully disagree. I have a child who is in kindergarten, and is currently going through gifted screening. I have been told his IQ was high enough for the program, although I won't know his precise score until later this week. Although it's nice to have confirmation of his intelligence,. we are still without any answers when it comes to the "other" side of our child. He has many symptoms of AS/HFA, but we have been working with him very closely since he was a toddler on many of his socialization skills, so sometimes he can "pass" using the roleplaying we've done with him. If indeed he is on the spectrum, we will be happy to take advantage of the expert advice that will become available. If he is found not to have Asperger's, we worry that we will be left alone to struggle to find a path for a child who is certainly not neurotypical. Our biggest fear is that he will somehow be found to be just on the wrong side of some arbitrary line, and we will be left without the resources to help him be successful. My son is who he is, and we love him dearly. But if we get a diagnosis, we will be happy, not just because he has been diagnosed, but because he has a defined issue and will not be left to struggle alone. If I go to the doctor and he diagnoses my child with bronchitis, I will be relieved if I thought it might be pneumonia. This doesn't mean I'm happy my child is sick or that I have Munchausen's by proxy. It simply means that I'm relieved to know that what my child has is something easily diagnosed and treatable.
LisaSinger LisaSinger 4 years
My 4 year old son was diagnosed last week with Asperger Syndrome or High Functioning Autism (the new diagnostic guide will not include Asperger Syndrome - it will be called High Functioning Autism). I too was relieved because I knew it was true but for him to get the help he needs at school, he has to have the official diagnosis. The psychiatrist also diagnosed him as "gifted." My son is already reading at a grade 1 level which is great but still won't poop on the potty and doesn't feed himself. She told us, "with the unique challenges he will face and being gifted in 2 areas, Lyric will live an extraordinary life." What could be better than hearing from a professional that she feels our son will life "an extraordinary life." So, thanks for the post! I hope a lot of other parents whose children are autistic read it and post here. We are not alone and that makes all the difference!!!
LatishaTyler LatishaTyler 4 years
I am the mother of a 4 year old who has been diagnosed with "high-functioning autism.". I ytoo understand the sentimant of your post but struggle with the wording. I'd also like to point out the mental and emotional struggles that come along with the "relief" you speak of. The other piece I'd like all readers to consider is to choose a different phrase when referencing your child's situaton... It hurts my heart when I hear "what wrong with my child" or "found out what is wrong." There is something "different" but I think that the use of the word "wrong" give the situation a negative conotation. The world is already mis-informed so I like to give the right Frame of reference. There is nothing "wrong" with my child. He is the apple of my eye! God made him different-I still don't know why, but He did.
AndreaRaymond16049 AndreaRaymond16049 4 years
Thank you Amanda, for a great post that reminds me of everything I have to be grateful for regarding our son's Aspergers Diagnosis. He was also diagnosed around the age of 9, and is now 14. There have been many bumps and hurdles along the way, but the hardest part in the beginning was just as you described. Our journey is far from over, and I look forward to educating those who ask, and learning together with those who walk this path with us.
KearyMason KearyMason 4 years
I would love to know where the other 10 centers are. Would you please share this info. Thank you so much.
StacyWendt StacyWendt 4 years
Sometimes the biggest thing is just knowing so that you can get the appropriate help.
EmilySitch EmilySitch 4 years
Thank you for this. I can empathise with how you feel. My daughter is 3 and I have had to fight for 18 months to make sure she is getting the right help. It all started with a speech delay that I noticed when she turned 2. Because she was so young, it was so hard to get the right level of help. Now she is in pre-school and we are still struggling. For instance, she refuses to poo on the toilet, but will poo on the potty (on occaision!). I asked the pre-school if they would provide a potty for her, but they said it would be a step backwards and she should learn to use the toilet. They say all children are different, but refuse to accommodate those differences! At the moment we are at the stage where the health professionals say there is nothing wrong with her, but she struggles at school because of her speech. I've been told that she's unlikely to have a diagnosible disorder. This is so frustrating. Without a diagnosis, there is little access to help and support. However, I feel guilty for wanting a diagnosis. Would I want to brand my child as having a disorder? Part of me hopes she just outgrows it, but I feel so ill-prepared to give her the support she needs. Anyway, good luck with your child. I hope you now get the help and support you both need. Thanks.
AmandaDunn89378 AmandaDunn89378 4 years
OMG, the title is asinine! Don't you mean you're relieved he has diagnosis? No one is relieved their child has disorder classified as a PDD. If you are, you have munchausen by proxy, and you need help. DAMN it! This site needs a copy editor. Or writers who know left from right!
AmandaMillerMaracle AmandaMillerMaracle 4 years
I have been fighting with Dr.s since my son was 18 months old when my son gave me the heart attack of a life time and what my son did was not normal (long story short he wandered out by himself and showed no fear for it). My son never shows fear but will 'freak out' at loud sounds and unwanted textures. Recently I took him to a so called specialist he took 1 look at my son and said he was 'fine' and I was angry not only did this quack waste my time, gas and etc. I had waited almost 2 years for this appointment. I am ready to just give up and tell people if they can't accept my son they can just jump off a cliff. this whole process is nothing but frustration and heart break and all I want to do is help my son. :(
AshleighSpencer AshleighSpencer 4 years
When I was 7 I was diagnosed with ADHD. I tried DOZENS of meds at my father's insistence, as well as several councellors that trained out of a lot of my behaviors. As a result when my mother FINALLY wised up and INSISTED I go to inpatient psychiatric evaluation, I was diagnosed with Pervasice Developmental Disorder, Not Otherwise Specified (PDDNOS) and NOT Aspergers (Which is a PDD). Come to find out after reading the requirements for the diagnosis that I did INDEED have Aspergers, but because of what my dad had me "trained to do" they could not diagnose me properly, thus leading to no medical coverage when I hit 18 because I "wasn't disabled enough". It's been a really tough road, and I had a LOT of trouble at first. But I have been med free since 18 and have learned to deal without them. And I am now happily married and a mother of one. I guess what I'm trying to say is that yes you have finished step 1. But step 2 is a path you AND your child must take. Don't make the mistake my father did and try to change your child. I was able to make it and have a fulfilling adult life, one that's just begun in fact (2 yr old child, married 2 yrs, yada yada). Your son will get there too, and if he's lucky he'll have no need for drugs or any sort of help by the time he's 18.
boofsmom boofsmom 4 years
I wish you had worded that title differently. "Why I was relieved WHEN my son was diagnosed with Asperger's." That's the main issue I have with this site - the sensationalist headlines. Worse than the regular media. I agree with the sentiment of the article, however. I felt the same way when my daughter was diagnosed at 16. It explained SO much. It was a relief for her as well.
MeganLuck MeganLuck 4 years
None of my sons have this but I understand you feeling relieved that this has been diagnosed and he will be getting the attention he needs for this. I also hope that you will no longer feel the need to defend his behavior and that others will be more patient and understanding. Best wishes to you.
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