Asperger Syndrome ~ 1 of 7

A Life Long Adventure

Asperger Syndrome: A Pervasive Developmental Disorder by Cathy Zimmerman

Definition:  Asperger Syndrome (AS) is under the large umbrella of Pervasive Developmental Disorders, and sometimes specifically under the term Autism Spectrum Disorders.  It is named after a Viennese pediatrician, Dr. Hans Asperger.  He wrote a paper describing the disorder, which was published in 1944, but which was not translated into English until 1991.  AS is a neurological disorder characterized by impairments or deficiencies in social interaction, communication and imagination.  It is far more prevalent in boys than girls, although it is still considered under-diagnosed and “real numbers” aren’t available. Symptoms vary in type and intensity from person to person, and may be symptoms of other conditions or disorders, so getting an exact diagnosis may take several doctors, specialists and tests.

“For You created my inmost being; You knit me together in my mother’s womb.  I praise You because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Your works are wonderful …” (Psalm 139:13-14 ~ NIV)  How many times have I (and almost every other parent!) wished for a user’s manual from God for my son.  God knows my son’s internal wiring.  I would love to have a map of it! Ah, but lest I fall prey to thinking I am a really great parent and oh, so smart, God wisely made sure I would have ample opportunity to keep seeking Him for wisdom in being the mother my son needs.

I first noticed a difference in my son from other children his age when he was about two-and-a-half years old.  We were in a spring Early Childhood Family Education class and all the children were approximately the same age.  We joined another ECFE class in the fall, and the difference between the behavior of my son and the other children was even greater than I had noticed in the spring.  Not only was he not on the same page as the other children, he wasn’t even in the same chapter.  At this point, I do advocate comparing your child to others their age, not for boasting on bests and firsts, but simply because a major difference in behavior can be a signal that something is not quite “right.”  About that time, I read an article in a parenting magazine that was written by a mother of an autistic boy.  The symptoms she described matched many of my son’s behaviors.  The ECFE teachers confirmed my suspicions of autism later in the same week that I read the article, so I made an appointment with our pediatrician. He suggested going through preschool screening and a visit with a neurologist.  The preschool screening and a few surveys filled out by me and my husband placed our son on the autism spectrum scale nowhere near “normal.”  We took our son to the neurologist, who had an MRI done on our son (he had to be sedated for the procedure so that he didn’t panic and move).  The results were normal, and the neurologist told us our son would be “fine, just a little quirky.”  That started us on our journey to bring our son “back into our world.”

I was very relieved to receive the AS diagnosis.  That may sound strange, but for all those early months of my son’s life I had felt like the worst parent in the world, because we weren’t “connecting” or bonding like I thought we should.  I was truly questioning my parenting skills and whether I was really meant to be a parent.  I reminded myself that this was God’s plan (our son is adopted), and He doesn’t make mistakes.  I also felt very sad for my son, and remember thinking, “Poor little guy, he has no control over this.”  A lot of tears were shed then, and still are.  God is good and His plans for us are for good.  Our son brings smiles to a lot of faces, and with his love of music and worship, he spreads God’s love to others in church during worship.  He even makes me smile and sometimes “happy cry” to see him express his love for God so openly.

“From the lips of children and infants You have ordained praise …” (Psalm 8:2 ~ NIV)  He worships openly, and prays openly.  Sometimes it’s the same prayer each day, but other times, his heartfelt prayers touch me deeply and lift me up!

Our son is twelve years old now, so we have been on this adventure for a while.  I’m pretty sure this will be a life long adventure, and I’m glad God is leading the way.

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