The other day, I was riding around scoping out potential picture session locations when it occurred to me that I hadn't really had any Aspie-centric worries about Jeffrey lately. This school year has been tremendously successful and empowering for our whole family and he can proudly say that he has two friends, which is huge for him. He also, to Will's and my combined horror and amusement, has garnered the attention of a young lady in his class. When asked about it, he chuckled and said, "Oh, I'm not ready for all of that silliness yet." His grades are good, he likes his teachers, he hasn't done anything appallingly inappropriate at school (so far)--we're good. We're...not worried, which is so pleasant.
Of course, this lack of worry does not translate into "lack of Aspie-centric stategery." We rock our charts, our lists, our ABA-approved language. We have schedules, warnings, and snack times designed to keep the Bug sailing smoothly. We use medication to help with focus and we know that giving him too much sugar sends him into a sensory overload that pretty much makes him spin on his big ol' noggin. The folks at school use a lot of strategery, too. Pretty much, we've found Jeffrey's ramps into the world and we are charging up them with gusto. But ramps, you know, they aren't level. They require handrails and those funky strips of sandpaper to help you get up them. It's hard work, sometimes, getting up a ramp. And the getting up of it feels so damn good.
Seriously. It should come with a soundtrack, like Rocky or Chariots of Fire.
Which brings me to this morning, when my beloved Bek pointed me in the direction of this piece of asshattery. Go ahead and read it. Feel free to call the author out on her asshattery.
And allow me to do so now, mkay?
Dear Mary Rogan,
I wanted to commend you on your excellent piece of yellow journalism this morning. I'm sure it was frustrating to be beaten to the punch by the Tiger Mom lady or the lady who dissed overweight actresses, so I'm glad that you were able to find a large segment of the population to insult and denigrate with casual stereotypes and generalizations. No doubt, this article will garner you lots of attention and people like me will write blogs about your blatant ignorance and then other people will write scathing comments on your article and then you'll write an apology article so that even MORE of your writing will be clogging up the interwebs. Maybe you'll even score a trip to the Jon Stewart show, where you will be self-deprecating and amusing!
Honestly, Ms. Rogan, I don't blame you. In some of the more desperate, dark, ugly places of my heart, I have thought about cashing in on my son's Asperger's. I even have a cute book title in mind. In the book, I'll be funny and glib, too. I'll make my readers laugh and cry and maybe even get them het up a little when I discuss the vaccine debate. I'll get a lot of attention from the book and make a little money and maybe even score a trip to Oprah's new network or a place on The View cast. It'll be awesome.
The difference, Ms. Rogan, is that I'll be cashing in on something on which I'm pretty much an expert, not because I'm a doctor or a psychologist or a reporter who does even a tiny bit of research, but because I'm the mother of a child who has had such a difficult early childhood that there were moments when I honestly felt like lying down in the road and waiting for a truck to run over me because it was so hard to get through the day. I have EARNED my interview with Oprah, Ms. Rogan, and you have not. I have watched my "nerdy" child learn all of his letters at the age of eighteen months and I have watched him shove rocks in other kids mouths. I have watched him win a spelling bee and I have watched him collapse in the middle of a store in hysterical sobs when he couldn't get a Hotwheel car. I have watched my son not just be incapable of eye contact, but be incapable of understanding WHY he can't kiss boys on the mouth, WHY the children lean so far away from him when he talks to them, WHY they don't enjoy him pretending to eat them in the lunch room line.
Far from being...what was it you called me--? oh, yes, a parent who "can’t tolerate the inevitable disappointments that come with child-rearing," I have attending dozens of meetings with teachers, principals, counselors, doctors, therapists, and various other specialists all with the simple goal of allowing my child to function in school with a bit of success. I have written out the directions on how to take a shower on the shower walls so that my nine-year-old doesn't get caught up in the noise and wetness and heat of bathing himself and zone out. I have tried special diets, put my kid through the wringer of wrong medications and interventions, paid thousands of dollars so that my Aspie can understand that it isn't cool to put rocks in other kids mouths and that his handwriting needs to, you know, follow the lines in a way that Earthlings understand. It's DISAPPOINTING when my neurotypical daughter has an argument with her friend that puts her in timeout. It's heartbreaking to realize that my precious son has no friends at the end of a school year because he is so outside the bounds of what normal even begins to look like that people have no clue what to do with him.
Let me tell you something, Ms. Rogan. I'm a nerd. I'm, like, crazy smart and I read all the time and I am frequently in the know about random things that other people don't know about. I'm not an Aspie. I'm a nerd. I have a friend who is so painfully shy that making eye contact with others hurts her feelings. She is not an Aspie. My mother is a consummate klutz, my brothers are scientists, one of my best friends refuses to eat anything that is crunchy. THEY ARE NOT ASPIES. To collapse Asperger's Syndrome into a glib little pile of quirkiness is asinine at best and at worst, it highlights your absolute ignorance. Clearly, you are not a nerd.
Further, to somehow think that having a child labeled with Aspergers somehow makes raising that child more convenient...bless your sweet heart, Ms. Rogan. And I mean that in the "wow, you really are completely clueless" way. My boy is adorable and sweet and awesome and smart and quirky and just this morning, I sobbed because in a few short years, he won't want me to snuggle up with him in the mornings to wake him up, but there is nothing convenient about his diagnosis. It means piles of paperwork, appointments, research, more paperwork, visits to the school, more fricking paper work, and then a little more research just in order to do something like getting a schedule taped to his desk so he doesn't forget that lunch comes after math. So don't tell me it's convenient, lady. It's not convenient.
I hope this is the sort of reaction you were looking for, Ms. Rogan. I hope this letter brings you a little thrill of excitement at the emotion you stirred up. I hope you got your journalistic kicks but gooooood. As for me, I have to go right my son's bedspread (he can't seem to understand that it goes longways and not shortways...his five-year-old sister can, though) and get to work.
Oprah hasn't called yet, you see.