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.