I always thought he was different… I just didn't know to what degree. You know, when you find out you're going to have a baby, all you want is for him to be "normal". You fear birth defects, premature birth…all sorts of nightmare scenarios. When my son came into the world, I was so happy he was born…well, normal.
Then I noticed amazing things. He taught himself the alphabet in sign language when he was two years old. He can memorize entire television shows…every word…even the music. He can see a weather report on TV and two hours later remember all the temperatures and towns in the forecast. He puts together complex puzzles with ease…far beyond his years. He has an amazing vocabulary…he just doesn't talk to you with it. He sees patterns in things that I don't recognize…until he shows me. How could this be?
Rocky has Asperger's Syndrome. He is Autistic.
There have been lots of famous people speculated to have Asperger's Syndrome. A quick Google later…here are some of the names I got: Albert Einstein, Isaac Newton, Benjamin Franklin, Napoleon Bonaparte, George Washington, Samuel Clements (Mark Twain), Leonardo Da Vinci, Mozart, Beethoven, Robin Williams, Tom Hanks, Bill Gates, Henry Ford, Shakespeare…well, you get the idea. Compared to most people, you could say they had "superpowers". These amazing people were more "X-Men" than men.
Just like most superheroes, he will have his weaknesses. He will have a difficult time relating to others. His social skills will not develop like most kids. He prefers to play alone, and seems to be lost in a world of his own sometimes. He will not look at me when I call his name. There will be many other challenges yet to come. I would be lying if I told you I wasn't scared. I am. For Rocky, for his mother and me…for the future… I need to find out all I can. I need to hear from you. And I need to remember that he's the same beautiful little kid he always was…I just have to learn different ways to communicate with him.
When I left the house this morning, he was typing words on my computer….big ones. He's 3 years old. Amazing. Maybe you have a child that's autistic…maybe you have a family member, or friend, or spouse that has been through this journey. This Blog is for you. Tell your story. Introduce us to these amazing people. 1 in 150 kids born today will be diagnosed with some form of autism…most will be boys like Rocky. There's a lot of support out there for these kids and the problems they will face. There are also some amazing teachers that can help them hone and control the amazing abilities they have. I'm looking forward to meeting them.
I just hope Rocky can't fly. He's hard enough to keep up with as it is.
July 2008 - Ashley Stephenson