Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Said and Unsaid

Asparagus. That is the lighthearted nickname we have created for our son’s ‘special’ medical diagnosis – Asperger’s Disorder. I can say that now. I am ready to talk. You see, I have not written anything in quite some time. I have not been posting any new recipes, have not excitedly announced Loren’s new initiatives to begin her acting career here on this blog, not updated on all the daily family and home goings-on, not ranted over anxious family gatherings that have taken place, not un-earthed feelings of depth on any level, just keeping afloat. Where the first twenty were about survival and the last ten were about finding myself and identifying with new and unfamiliar roles and walking through birth and loss, this year, my thirtieth year, has been about recognition, coming to terms, and healing. We not only saved Sadie and Lucy’s lives in the last few months, but we are reclaiming our own.

For the past year, since last April, we have not only been in the thick of a job crisis and in the sixth consecutive year of remodeling our home, but have been on a journey to figure out why our home life is so chaotic despite all of our tremendous efforts to protect and nurture it. Just because something has become “normal” to us, does not mean it is or that it works. That said, we have been quietly seen for regular group therapy two to three times each month, and have had Nate thoroughly evaluated by three individual specialists, and have done much work inside the parenting trenches during these confusing and intimate twelve months.

While our facebooks detail the basic synopsis of each day so that we do not loose touch altogether, we are spending far more time getting to know one another again with new information. We are patting ourselves on the back for recognizing needs and facing them bravely no matter who believed in us or supports us now. We have been taking more care to appreciate all the little things we loved before, only with more respect and love than we could with the knowledge we had then. It has become an exercise of will, to constantly infuse our lives with respect for each person’s individual needs in the battleground of conflicting personalities that is our home, but it is something we’ve always strived for and will continue to.

So our oldest is an “Aspie.” Nate has always been unique, so have all three of our children, as much as any child is, but he being different further still. Nate’s “label” became official in March but was suspected in final impressions by his first specialist last August. After a trial round of meds, a trip to the hospital during one infamous tantrum of the many, and more internal restructuring of our everyday life, we can now say we are okay with the outcome of Nate’s journey so far. Nathan is so many things to us: caring, sweet, thoughtful, creative, smart, funny, interesting, quirky, picky eater, and admittedly not a very good hugger, but this label only means that he sees life differently and evolves in social atmospheres differently. He has difficulty reading people and they him. But what he does see is incredible. He notices things that others would never give a thought. He sees every physical or linear object with the lens of a microscope. He absorbs large volumes of information and can recite it back. Nate sees the world in a structured way and things have to have purpose and construct. Actions are right or wrong. He is both complicated to a fault and yet refreshingly simple.

Meanwhile our daughter is struggling with an Attention Deficit that is undeniably frustrating to both her and us while putting her half a reading level behind at school. Yup, the school we have come to have a very strained relationship with thanks to issues with Nate; The one school available to her for grades pre-K to 4th grade. Lucky for her, Loren’s Daddy and Uncle have passed on this hereditary link and so she too has the amazing gift of being ten steps ahead of everyone else, super smart and yet so underestimated. She is impulsive and charming, popular and fun, entertaining and sweet, but she is always in a struggle to meet her full potential when it hinges on holding her attention on something longer than 10-15 minute intervals. She can easily pioneer through “grey area” situations and binges on any food that is knowingly “bad” for her or high in sugar. We joke that she has never walked a day in her life. It’s true. She jumps, skips, hops, pirouettes, runs, bounces, but never walks. She is so very talented in so many ways but such a polar opposite to her older sibling, it is remarkable. Loren, who has always wanted to be in show business and the art world, has begun to get the medical help she needs to reach her long term goals, alongside her older brother this year. She has begun her own website which is still under construction, has added acting classes to her busy afterschool activity list and has already starting taking auditions in hopes of landing an agent before long. She continues her very own journey with us at her side and has decided it is now time to make her room “more her.”

Gabe is our resident bully. Without him, I’d be lost and with him, I want to rip my hair out, lol…He is painfully “normal” with all the nuances normality brings. He has the regular brand of 3-5 year old tantrums and often says things off-the-cuff that make you roll onto the floor laughing when you really shouldn’t. He is a an overtly physical child that loves rough-and-tumble play, loves to hum while he eats, loves to eat! Gabe also gives the best hugs and his chubby little hands wrap around you the warmest of all. As long as he thinks it is his idea, he is game for pretty much any schedule, meal or adventure, but he is more than okay with getting the run-down beforehand too as he likes to plan when it is available to him. He is naturally good at almost anything he tries and everyone instantly is drawn to and likes him, though he is stubborn and won’t back down on anything. In sum, he is his father (with higher concentration level), reincarnated. Thank God for this miracle to complete our family.

And so we are, just a family, an every day complicated, busy family. "Special Needs" are just needs. We are still moving forward, one step at a time, and the future looks good. For sake of time and my own sanity, I won’t bother filling in all the blanks on my recent foodie finds, current tv, film and book reviews, commentary on the latest news or even all the spring work on the house, I will just keep the focus on this page, where it is in my heart – on them. …Now here we are, all caught up.


  1. You have a beautifully complex family. God blessed you with these children because he knew you alone were the only mother for them. You're amazing and doing a great job!

  2. Stacy StrawdermanApril 7, 2010 at 9:11 PM

    You and your family are an inspiration, and I thank you for being so open. I am sure that you will be able to get through everything you are faced with because you are together. I wish we lived closer because Mothers regardless of their "child's needs" we all need to surround ourselves with support. The best I can do is offer a place for you to vent. Whenever you need I am an email or phone call away.

  3. Jamie, you are a wonderful woman, blessed with a loving husband and children who love you. Our prayers are with you and your family. A warm hug, a patient ear, and a loving shoulder to lean on, are always available to our Jamie. I have loved you since i met that brilliant little 9 year old in springfield. I wish we lived down stairs from you still. Although we have burdens of our own, let me reassure you that we would do all that we can for you and Jim and the children. We love you all, and miss you too.

  4. Jamie, I am very impressed with your honesty AND poetic writing. I am so glad you have found an answer or explanation/diagnosis for Nate. Because then you have more than "instinct" to help you. I think your instinct as a mother, though has gotten you pretty far and fabulous. I hope your remodeling is over son, so you can enjoy it. Must be something about this spring or 8/9 year-olds because we are painting the bedroom, too! See you soon.

  5. I am new to your blog, and it is absolutely wonderful and poignant.

    I recently learned of the site through a friend with an Aspie son. I hope that this is helpful to you - she loves the community.

  6. Ausberger kids are quirky and, having known some in the classroom and some from playgroups, they are really neat kids. There are some really good resources out there to help.

  7. Nice site, from a children author