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

Friday, April 28, 2017

18 years and counting

 If I pause to think about it, maybe its's a little ironic that Autism awareness month happens to be the month that my sweet boy was born. In all honesty though, I probably don't care. I just love Drake and he just happens to have Asperger's Syndrome. It shapes who he is and how he interacts with the world around him, but it does not define him. To me he is himself and he's perfectly happy to be just that. Drake, Drake the Great.

I had Drake when I was 21 years old, my first child and I had absolutely no idea what I was doing. He was born 3 weeks early after an emergency C-section because he was breech. Obviously that fact he was entering the world upside down was not going to faze him, he was ready to go!

Drake was bright and alert from the time he was born and very curious about the world around him. He walked at 15 months, was speaking by 2 and could count to at least 20 and knew his alphabet by 2 and a half. Drake preferred his educational toys to play with and would line his cars up in long lines around the room. He preferred to play by himself and loved M&M's. He got upset when he had to disrupt what he was doing and we learned to give him verbal warnings when we had to do something else.

Drake was a generally happy child with many smiles and hugs for Grandmas. He chattered constantly and made up stories and complex games for his siblings to play. Drake had a speech impediment and Mom and Dad could understand him just fine, but nobody else could. Drake attended speech services through the school district though 9th grade. Drake has lateral lisp which is hard to correct completely and if you listen closely you can hear it, but it's not really noticeable.

 Drake learned to read by 4, but did not learn to tie his shoes until he was 8. Drake did not look at you when he was spoken to and I remember telling him, "Drakee look at me, so I can talk to you". Drake's "look at me" face is this one here to the right. LOL

Drake developed some interesting "ticks" and they ranged from lip biting, to finger flicking (enough to develop callouses), to face wiping (he would have large red swaths across his face), to pacing, and hand shaking (which he still does to this day).

Drake would have meltdowns frequently and would dissolve into a screaming/crying/kicking puddle and I remember holding him down and tight in a ball until he could calm down. He enjoyed school, but didn't really have any friends preferring teachers and adults as company instead. He talked about nonsensical and made up things mostly and rarely answered questions directly. He never complained about shoes that were too small or having an earache and not feeling well.
He hated bright sun and loud noises. He didn't like daycare very much
mostly because it was loud a lot.

 By the time Drake reached 4th grade and the classroom dynamic changed, it was becoming obvious to the school that something was very different about Drake. He refused to listen to the book being read aloud, he was fidgety and disorganized and drove his teacher nuts. The district tested him and came up with a A.D.H.D. diagnosis and requested to have him medicated. Grandma had been reading up on Asperger's Syndrome and suggested we have him evaluated. Drake was diagnosed with Asperger's Syndrome and moderate A.D.H.D. Suddenly, all his little quirks made sense. As I was filling out the evaluation paperwork, I couldn't believe how much sense it was making and everything I scolded him for, he couldn't help. I just had no idea.

 Enter a world of IEP's and administrator meetings and so many phone calls and teacher's conferences. Drake was placed with a great and understanding teacher for 5th grade and thrived. I worried so much when he entered Intermediate school, so many different classes to go to each day and his organizational skills not being the best, I was sure it was going to be a disaster. Except, it wasn't. The school had a great program for keeping the kids organized and he enjoyed only needing to sit in one place for so long before he could do something else. He lost his violin, but after giving his teacher a call and a heads up, we found it. He learned to walk himself almost a mile home and let himself in after school. He took music classes and cooking classes and even a shop class. Drake amazed me even with his limited fine motor skills and enjoyed it all.

Drake can read music and type fairly quickly and accurately. Drake loves to read non-fiction and classics too. Drake still loves Lego's to this day. Drake grew almost a foot from 7th grade to 10th. He also matured. I could ask him questions and get actual answers. He preferred his hair to be long and I obliged. He wanted to wear certain clothes and shoes and was happy in his own skin.

Drake today loves to hike and read web comics and listen to dub-step and video game music. Drake walks himself home a mile from school everyday and walks himself to the store to by donuts sometimes too. Drake wears exactly what he wants, even if it is a crazy cat shirt, plaid shorts, and mismatched socks (actually, that's kind of everyday). He has earned himself the title of "the kid with the socks" because of his love for crazy socks. Drake still prefers to stay home and doesn't hang out with anyone, but talks to kids at school all time (according to his sister). Drake has been taking classes concurrently through the community college since last year and has taken a total of 7 so far with plans to continue this fall.
 Drake still struggles with social cues and can say things that are very inappropriate at times, not realizing they are. Then again, he enjoys saying super inappropriate things to tease his siblings too. Sly boy, he is.

Drake is 18 today. I somehow managed to raise an adult not knowing what I was doing, but very much in love with this little boy I was given. Drake, you make your Mommy so very proud and I wouldn't want you any other way. Your love for life, even when it's kind of hard and easy comfort in your own skin, make me look up to you. I don't know what I ever did right, but I am so very glad you are mine. Drake, Drake you are the great. My great. My boy, Drake.