This weekend I finished reading "Look Me in the Eye" and really got a lot out of it. In case you are not familiar with the book or the author, John Elder Robison is the brother of Augusten Burroughs who has written a number of popular books including "Running with Scissors". John Robison has Aspergers, a mild form of autism.
My book club chose this as our February read and we had a terrific discussion last week. Aspergers is a fascinating condition and I found tremendous comfort in the author's success in his life and in his self-discovery in a time where there was no diagnosis, just a feeling that he was "a bad kid, up to no good." I also found comfort in the fact that not every Aspergergian is going to pull the same stunts and make the same decisions that John did. Woah.
In short, Asperger's is a condition that cannot be cured, but can be managed. The result is a difficulty in social situations. We know a number of families who are dealing with other forms of autism and count ourselves as extremely fortunate that our little man's struggles are minor in comparison.
My new word is "navigation". Now that Brennan's speech is more typical and he is in no way struggling with academics of the classroom, I find that my role as Mommy is to help him navigate all the rules and mores of his world outside of our home. When the "opportunities" are presented in a logical, nurturing way, he gets it and applies the learning right away.
"Brennan, next time I'd suggest walking around those people in the museum instead of walking between them on your way to see the dinosaurs. People who are talking don't want people walking between them."
"Oh right, Mommy, I forgot about that."
And I paid special attention to the author's description of how his wife handles him and how their marriage is so successful (unlike his first marriage). I took notes and will be on the lookout for someone with similar traits in 20 or so years when I'm ready to let my baby go.
Brennan does beautifully with people who: >Are calm, soft spoken, and loving >Love him no matter what silly things he might say or do >Think he's the best >Love to listen to his stories and explanations of all things of his interest
He's been so fortunate to have a nanny, countless babysitters, grandparents, peers, teachers, therapists, and a big brother who all fit these characteristics above.
I highly recommend this book, especially if you know and love Brennan but aren't quite sure how he ticks.
Finally, I realize I am very protective of Brennan. I'm aware of it, and I'm really OK with it. :)