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Monday, June 20, 2011

Diagnosis: Asperger's

 I was recently formally diagnosed with Asperger's, a subset of Autism. 19 years ago, when my son was diagnosed with Severe Autism, I began asking questions, and I read Temple Grandin's first book called, "Emergence. Labeled Autistic" As I read, the denial that there was nothing different about my son, that he was only like me, began to fade. I was partially right. He was like me, and by the end of the book, I knew I had many characteristics of Autism myself.
   Being a parent takes 150% of whatever you've got, and when a special needs child is involved, there is little time, or I didn't make time, for me. It was hard and remains the most rewarding thing in my life. My son became one of my best friends, and often my teacher and my hope.
  Last year, after surviving cancer, I had a deeper sense than ever about how quickly life can be over. We don't know how much time any of us has. There was something I felt I'd left undone both for myself and for my children or any other person that might seek help one day. I wanted them to have a precedent of someone who willingly walked through the diagnosis process even with hands shaking and heart racing. My son was only two when his began. Professional diagnosis is not for everyone. It's the path I needed to take. I needed to let my son know he was not by himself in Autism.
   I began making phone calls and early this year, I found a psychologist at a local University who specialized in the diagnosis and treatment of Autism. The whole process took about four months, as part of my evaluation was part of the study of post graduate students working along side the Psychologist/Professor. I was pleased to able to take part in their education to one day help others with Autism. I met once a week for a while, then the last month or so was waiting. I'm a very patient person, and I knew inside already, so this was not a big problem for me. Any moment that I felt discouraged, I just thought about my children, and I was ok.
   There were many tests, all of which were given in a helpful spirit. I was treated with respect, tenderness and thoroughness. It was difficult, challenging and some days even fun. Some days I cried, some days it took everything I had to get out of my car and walk into the clinic,  but I kept the mental image of my brave son and daughter in my mind to let me know, I was not alone either.
   On June 14th of this year, 2011, I went to receive their findings.
 "Diagnosis: Asperger's Disorder"
    For my children, my grandchildren and their grandchildren:
You are not alone, you never have been, and you never will be. Should any fear come to you, I believe in you, and you can do what you need to do. I'm always with you.
    My son, my daughter and I used to take turns singing lines of a (perhaps silly) song together before he could talk. I heard my son singing a line softly, and he stopped when he realized I noticed. I sang the next line, and he continued. For the three of us, singing was our communication before conversation. We used it as a lullaby among others. They had such amazing voices! Barry and Eve, this one is for you.....You're my heroes! Thanks for comming into my life!
"Anything," smiles. Love, Mom (tina jones)

"First Kiss"
(my grandchildren)
18x24" Oil on Canvas

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