continued from part 2
I went back to the office and as I worked my mind kept churning the same questions over and over. How could I have missed this? How could we have explained away so many things? How could we look to his father as a model for why it was normal? And then it hit me. Hard. I stopped typing. I stopped breathing and began to shake. I knew the truth before the thought, which felt gently whispered in my ear, was fully formed.
I sent Mark the following text to which he responded immediately, “yes.” “Mark, have you thought about whether or not you or I have Asperger’s?” I couldn’t just say, “Dude, you totally have Asperger’s,” could I? He responded, “Yes. Most definitely. Did it ever strike you as odd that I can concentrate on writing a vodka book for years on end, or focus on driving for 20 hours straight, but I can’t seem to keep straight our schedules one day to the next? I’ve certainly thought about it.”
That was the moment. The big one. The ground shifting under my feet insight to the reality of our lives that have completely changed my view of the vast complexities of human existence and our family truths. As it turns out we know quite well what Asperger’s looks like and it doesn’t resemble Max from the great tv show Parenthood AT ALL. Except a little, depending on what you’re looking at.
A flurry of texts between myself and my husband continued through the day recounting his traits that seen through the lens of Asperger’s made perfect sense. These are things that I both love, love, love about him but also the things that drive me up a wall backwards. Mark completed a series of Asperger’s questionnaires and would text me the results each indicating a strong likelihood of Asperger’s with something like, “Huh. Who knew?” There is a reason we think of Alexander as little Mark. He is little Mark. He called his mom who said she understood some of the things she saw as he was growing up and beautifully said, “but this doesn’t really change a thing.”
Except it does. It changes everything and I will be forever grateful that my son was diagnosed with Asperger’s. Now we can learn more about it so that we can support him in the ways that he needs. Facing this reality which was at first a trip to Hell is now just our new/old normal. The best part, the BEST part is the fairly certain conclusion that we (admittedly as lay people) came to about Mark likely having Asperger’s as well. He says this is probably why it didn’t faze him much when we learned about our son’s diagnosis. Somehow he felt the truth of it on an unconscious level and KNEW that despite the challenges, the benefits and joy are real. In that millisecond when the thought was whispered in my ear, my heart lightened. My grief left me and I began to laugh so hard I cried.
People say all the time that people with Asperger’s can lead happy and full lives and we KNOW this to be true. We live it every day. Just ask my husband, the mighty professor, author, hilarious, affectionate, kind, father, and friend about his happy and fulfilled existence.
Our journey to accepting (with relief and even joy) our son’s and possibly my husband’s diagnosis of Asperger’s couldn’t have happened any other way. It was all perfectly timed. We have our precious daughter Sophie to thank for teaching us about our own disabled attitudes and our subsequent metamorphosis. As humans, we all are different and different does not equal less than. We all have different skills, interest, strengths and areas that we need support. I thought I understood that but I didn’t truly get it like I do now.
This is the global shift that is happening. As a community, people with disabilities or differences and their loved ones are standing together to demand that the rest of the world get on board. We are blessed to be a part of it. I am so proud of my family and my husband for having the courage to look inward. Despite the struggles that will surely arise, I am GRATEFUL for this life.
to be continued…