The lighter side to raising a child with Asperger's

My little boy Drake, is the most unique character I know. Drake was diagnosed with Asperger's Syndrome a few years ago and while yes, this provides for many challenges, it also provides a unique view on life. I want to share some of the lighter side to having a child with Asperger's, maybe if you have challenges like his in your family, you'll be able to see. See that life is hard sometimes, but it doesn't have to always be.
Enjoy! Jessica

Monday, June 6, 2011


J. Lamb 2011

It seems we're making progress in the constant social struggle. Never mind that it may seem minuscule in size for your average 12 year old boy, but Drake is anything but average!

Drake, although everyone seems to know him, does not know how to interact with kids his age. I pick him up from school and he has several kids smile and wave and call him by name. Drake generally greets them with a scowl as Mom encourages to at least smile and wave, even if he doesn't want to talk to them. "Do I have to?" is a constant question with him. I don't believe in making him do things he'd rather not, but I do encourage him to try. "How are people supposed to know you are friendly, if you don't smile at them?" I query in return. A stiff wave is returned and Mom says "hi" for him. *Sigh*

A recent trip to the pediatrician was maybe a bit eye-opening on Mom's part. Even though I know he enjoys being alone and I haven't really made a conscious effort to make sure he interacts with kids his age, Drake got teary when the pediatrician asked if he didn't mind not having any friends. He insisted that he like to be alone, but Mom has learned to read reactions (as off-kilter as they can be) and knew that this maybe bothered him a bit more than he let on.

A couple of days ago, Drake and his brother were riding their bikes together out front and I could see our neighbor's sons out on their carport filling an ice chest with water balloons. After about twenty minutes Drake came in and announced with wide eyes that his brother was filling water balloons with the neighbor boys. "Mom!".... he whined...and I took the opportunity to ask why he hadn't joined them. His little head cocked to the side, as though the thought hadn't occurred to him. "We can?", he asked warily. I assured him it was okay and encouraged him to join in. He did! Both boys returned 10 minutes later announcing they were going to join a water fight and went to change into swim trunks and requested their water guns and a bucket full of water. I obliged. ;0) I was impressed, Drake stayed out there as long as his brother did and I actually had to drag both of them in for dinner! My neighbor's older son is older than Drake, but his brother is my younger son's age and I was really impressed at his patience with Drake. He shot Drake with the water gun and Drake yelped in protest (typical Drake) and he insisted to Drake that it didn't hurt and he didn't need to yell about it. Exactly what Mom would have done! ;0)

Yesterday my family and I went to the park with my coworkers to celebrate a couple of birthdays and to join a rowdy game of kickball. We all went, including Drake. Drake didn't want to join really, but I have explained Drake to all of my coworkers now and knew it would be all right. I encouraged him to try and I was so impressed at how well he kicked the ball, ran to the bases, and even teased several people as he manned first and third base! "What a good job you did Drake!", I gushed as we left. "Sometimes it's fun to participate, huh?", I added. Drake smiled his sideways smile and wrinkled his eyes as he grinned, "Sometimes..."
Sometimes, indeed. ;0)

Thursday, April 28, 2011


Drake trying to run from the camera very early this morning!

How can it be that 12 years ago you came into the world? When I close my eyes I see you with your chubby cheeks and huge grin as a baby and I think about the day you were born. Just a week before I had been to the doctor and discovered that you had decided to spin around and become "breech"!
Not content to enter the world in the conventional way, I had begun having contractions the night before. Your Dad and I took Auntie Cara out to dinner at he Hard Rock Cafe in Vegas (she had just returned from a trip to Washington) and since we lived in Vegas, we were the designated airport goers!
Your Dad even almost didn't make it home for your arrival. You see on April 20th an awful thing happened in Colorado at a place called Columbine. It was a tragedy of epic proportions and an event that has forever changed the way people think. Your Dad worked for a company in Vegas that hired out news crews to the western half of the country and he was sent with a crew for a news program called "Inside Edition". He spent the next 6 days following around a reporter and feeling awful for digging around the personal lives of the victims. He had a nagging feeling that you were going to come soon so, he called his boss and insisted he be sent home. His boss agreed.
The day you arrived I drove to G'ma and G'pa Nelson's with Auntie Cara. I was having contractions still. They weren't painful at all, just annoying and she and I ate at Subway before she continued home to Arizona. I hadn't slept well that night and I laid down for a nap. I slept for three hours and woke up still having contractions. G'ma had come home from work by this point and your Dad called and insisted they take me to the hospital to be checked out and he started to drive in from Vegas.
We went to the hospital and found out that I was 6 cm and you were coming whether you were coming the right way or not! They immediately got ready for a c-section and G'ma Nelson came with me to hold my hand. At 8:48 pm you were born 3 and a half weeks early and still weighing in at 7lbs 1oz! A mass of dark hair on your head. Dad made it there right after you were born, but G'ma Nelson and Aunt Shaunah got to hold you first. ;0)
This day describes Drake so very well! Determined to do things his own way and eager to learn and grow, almost like he couldn't wait to get started! He makes me a better person by just being my son. I have learned to be patient, to be firm, to love unconditionally even when he can't always reflect it back. He wakes up happy to learn everyday with a smile and a sunny greeting to the world. I'm so happy to have you, my boy Drake. ;0)

Friday, March 4, 2011

Super smart!

I just got Drake's report card last week There is no doubt in my mind this kid is smart, of course not that there ever was! Every single grade an A except one and that one's a B+. I know why maybe it took a little longer for us to recognize that maybe Drake wasn't like other kids. You can't tell by looking at him. You can't tell by his report card. Try having a normal conversation with him though and you'll know...something is up.
When Drake was very small, he loved to learn. He only liked educational toys and would count things over and over again. Even when his cousins gave him a box of toy cars, he amused himself by lining them up in long lines across the room. You couldn't move them though or he'd have a meltdown! He'd have a meltdown if we did something else out of order or not in his routine as well. We lived in an apartment with 15 stairs and he would have to walk up each one and count it. 1....2....3... You couldn't skip any, you couldn't scoop him up to go faster either without him screaming!
Drake is my first child and now that I know what I do about Drake, I should have picked up on the clues. Drake couldn't open doors, in fact his 1 year old sister learned to do it first just before he turned three! He didn't look at my face when I talked to him, even as a baby. I had to teach him to "look" at me when I needed him to really listen. He still tilts his head back and opens his eyes as wide as he can when I ask him to pay attention. It's pretty funny actually. Drake had a babysitter who insisted that he was autistic (she had an autistic brother) and I remember thinking, "no way!" Little did I know...
Drake's all time favorite toy as a toddler was an electronic book called "The Learning Book" by V-tech. I can still hear it when I think of him waking his Dad and I up in the mornings..."Welcome to the Learning Book! Do-do-do...Select an activity!..." It's funny, he never said anything...just opened his book. His book taught the alphabet and had simple reading games and he would insist that I show him how each game worked over and over and over again. He was reading things in the grocery store to me by age four and I know why!
For Christmas just before he turned four, Drake got a talking calculator. It was made for a child and would tell you every number as you pushed it and the totals of your sums. Drake was in heaven! He loved to count things and this way he could what the numbers looked like that he was counting. "1...2...3...reset!" Drake loves math so much, that he takes an advanced math class this year and LOVES it! He still has the talking calculator too, although he prefers to use a regular one these days.
Drake my boy, you are super smart! The world is yours if you want it and I intend to do all I can to ensure you can take it!

Wednesday, January 5, 2011


Christmas break ended yesterday and I picked Drake up from school (he normally walks, but it's been so rainy/snowy wet that the vacant lot he trudges through was soupy and it would have been more of a hassle to clean him up when he got home then it was worth). He presented me with his midterm report card warning me first, "Mom I got all A's in my classes, except Social Studies and in it I got an A-". I asked him about his day if it was good and all and he nodded, grinning. I thought about it and proclaimed, "I'm sure you had a good day because you like school and you're one of those sick people that would be perfectly happy to go to school everyday, huh?" Drake grinned and nodded.
Despite Drake's obvious struggles, he remains happy and willing to continue on even when something is difficult. Breaks from school can be tough on him though, he crawls into his own little world of Lego's and Pokemon battles and hardcore Super Mario action and when we have to do something else, it's hard. I took him and his siblings someplace where they needed to be dressed up and I insisted he wear a tie, he spent the evening scowling and refusing to speak to anyone. We went to dinner and I couldn't get him to talk to the waitress or even answer her. It's times like these that Drake having Asperger's is really obvious.
Drake has a communications deficiency somewhere, most likely from Asperger's, but it affects his ability to write clearly. If he takes a lot of time, his handwriting is partially legible. Normally though, it looks like the work of a Kindergartner all running different directions, scrawled and misshapen letters. All of his teachers have confessed they can't read it, except his Math teacher of course. Math is by far his favorite subject and he even takes an AP Math class, which he loves! I know what your thinking, does he take regular classes or special ed.? Drake goes to a regular Intermediate school and takes regular classes with all the other kids his age. He is extremely intelligent and has an efficient and long running memory. He remembers everything from the time he was 2 or so and absorbs information like a sponge. Now does that mean he remembers where his things are at all times? No. Like any typical kid he misplaces coats, shoes, toys, and whatnot frequently. We've curbed a good part of it though, he places things in the exact same place every time he is finished with them and that helps a lot.
Part of helping Drake communicate a little better is encouraging him to use the computer. Drake even has his own Facebook page and even though he claims to have no friends, he usually has someone to sit and instant message with. He chats with his cousin who lives on the other end of the state, he chats with his favorite aunt, he chats with his Dad who lives overseas. I'm trying to encourage him to get better at typing, this way he can communicate a little more efficiently. Because in all honesty, the ability to communicate is key in life.