Yesterday someone commented to me that they were surprised when they found out that Dude has Asperger's because he seems so normal. I hear that often and its true. Dude is a pretty normal kid...now.
Sometimes I forget how far we've come. We move through our days with relative ease of routine, making adjustments as we go. I rarely think about the day to day stress, heart ache and fear that we experienced when Dude was younger...before we knew what Asperger's was or how to work with it. I don't like to dwell on those Dark Days when we feared that our life would always be consumed with violent outbursts, meltdowns and explaining unexplainable behaviour.
I remember the utter physical and emotional exhaustion I carried with me like old Jacob Marley and his chains. I felt battered and breakable and used up. I was tired of the school calling, of people staring and of the dozens of 'helpful' tips people would offer. Mostly I was tired of watching my sweet, precious, beautiful boy struggle through life. I was tired of seeing the fear and frustration in his eyes, of hearing him cry in his sleep and of seeing him try to harm himself just to stop the pain he was experiencing.
Those were scary times and the only reason for sharing them today is that I know that some of you are walking through the same thing. When I think about our life and all we have been through I literally think of a road. Asperger Alley, if you will. And just like any road you can choose to travel it in secret, or pretend you are not even on it and hope that things will get less bumpy as you go further along. You can even decided to park and live on the road. Or you can admit that this is the road you are on, get the proper vehicle, a good map and keep driving, no matter how bumpy the road gets or how dark the forest ahead appears...just keep driving.
We have found that being honest with Dude, ourselves and the people around us about Asperger's has made our journey much less stressful. We believe that information brings understanding and that Asperger's is nothing to be ashamed or embarrassed about. Because we are an open book we have had the privileged to share our story with other parents of kids on The Spectrum and to hear their stories, too. We know that this is a journey and if we keep persevering life for Dude will only get better.
Now, as we are driving down this road I can barely see the Dark Forrest in the rear view mirror because the road ahead is so bright. Just keep driving!