So Joe has been trying to come to terms with all I have told him recently, about having Asperger's syndrome and being different. I can see the struggle in him sometimes and I feel bad. He has made a few comments, too and asked me questions he has asked before like "why are you always pushing me?" and "why do I have to have Speech Therapy(/Summer School/resource room/etc)?". However, he is now asking them with a new, negative twist; something about those three years he regained, as if he didn't have to do any more work because he regained them.
I had been afraid of this, so I decided to have A Talk with him to clear up any misconceptions. Because it was obvious to me that there were a few.
It emerged during the course of our talk, that Joe thought I was trying to "fix" him. To somehow 'cure' him of his "Joeness" and turn him into a normal kid. That broke my heart for several reasons. First of all, I figured Joe must have thought that I thought he somehow wasn't 'right' or up to par. In other words; Joe felt rejected by me.
And the other reason is that this is the age-old problem of
an Autistic Spectrum disorder. That people with Autism feel that the normies
are out to make them one of us.
Except he wasn't getting it.
Finally, not knowing what to say, I blurted out "You're not mine! You are your own person. I have only borrowed you and it is my job to prepare you for the world. I don't want you to come to me in 20 years time and say that I did a bad job because I didn't make you ready for college or for dealing with people. Do you understand? It is my job to prepare you for the world when you are a man."
And we talked a lot more.
One of Joe's concerns (Renee, you will appreciate this) was that he was afraid that the more he progressed, the more he would lost his "gifts", most notably his synesthesia. I told him that if Synesthesia is going to leave him, it will leave him anyway (many people outgrow it in puberty) and refusing to learn other skills for fear of losing synesthesia might backfire and he could lose out twice.
And we talked about Asperger's Syndrome. Joe had two concerns about this:
His first concern was that it might get "worse" like when he first "got" it (i.e. when he had his huge Autistic Regression at 19 months). I explained that this was very highly unlikely, unless he was poisoned or something (by mercury. ...and yes. I am one of those parents, but not militantly).
His other concern of course, was the flipside of this coin: That he would lose his Asperger's syndrome, which is very much part of him and one of the things that make him "Joe". I explained that he would always have some Asperger's syndrome; - it doesn't go away, and he would always be Joe.
We talked for a long time: We talked about school, college, jobs, friends -both regular and "with gifts" (-Joe's term meaning "special needs"). I explained that learning to interact with regular people, which he will need to do in his adult life, will not make him a regular person. It will make him a person with Asperger's who can deal well with regular people. That kid is a very deep thinker and capable of understanding some very mature concepts (I do simplify the language). He amazes me.
I think he felt better after our talk, although I know we will need to have another talk soon, and many more in the weeks and indeed, the years to come.