|Jeff Foxworthy once said, “It’s a hard job being a parent.” If he had to deal with me, he’d say, “It’s Mission Impossible trying to raise a kid with Asperger’s Syndrome.”
Sometime after I was born, my mother noticed that there was something different about me, as I wasn’t developing at the same rate that my older brother had. She talked to my paternal grandmother, who had raised four boys, about it. My grandmother, as well as various others, said, “Oh he’s alright- some just develop a little slower than others.” However, my mother just had a feeling that something wasn’t quite right with me.
My mother was one of those “Miss Molly Homemaker” types; raise the kids, do the laundry, dishes, and so forth, as she only had a high-school education, having been married and becoming a mother during her last year of school. Also, she was without a car, and didn’t know how to drive. My father was a farmer, first working on my mother’s uncle’s farm, and later on working his mother’s farm. During this time, I had developed my speaking abilities, and talking much like an auctioneer during bidding. My mother was the only one who could understand what I said. Still concerned about my development, she and my grandmothers would take me to various doctors to try and figure out what was up with me.
Shortly after my mother divorced my father, the one counselor my brothers and I were seeing noticed that there was something different about me. While he couldn’t do anything for me, he was able to recommend some people to my mother. However, the doctors had different answers- “Hyperactive Thyroid,” said one. “Attention Deficit Disorder,” said another. It wasn’t until a few years later, when I was twelve, that we finally figured out what I had, Asperger’s Syndrome- a high form of Autism.
It was a tough time for her; a single mom with three boys, and only a high school education. We were able to get food-stamps, but those don’t buy everything, and the child support from my father wasn’t worth a pair of pants. She was going through a series of boyfriends; first there was Phil from Pennsylvania- a good man who liked to go to frontier recreations and camping- sadly he got a job offer in Ohio, but mom was unable to go with him at the time. Then there was another man, whom I think was my Aunt’s friend or some such thing- sadly he had some medical problems he’d been denying, and after a trip to the hospital, we never saw him again. Currently there’s Doug, a good man and a hard worker, though admittedly he does have some issues, such as being a recovering alcoholic, which he has gotten help for, and has been sober for over three years now, though he still has issues with his daughters from his previous relationships, and his father isn’t in the best of health. However, he’s doing alright.
Now, my mother wanted to improve our lot, so she went to a business college. Two years later, she graduated, and that smile on her face, when she got her diploma- priceless. Currently, she holds a few hats at the Post Journal, a local newspaper in the city of Jamestown.
After I was finally correctly diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome, my mother tried to get me more help. However, the places that had programs that could help me were some distance away. After talking to other parents, who were in similar situations, she realized that something had to be done. Together, they form the group Step Up for Autism. Currently, she is the spokesperson for the group, and a special walk has been held in late September for the last couple of years. The money that is raised helps local families.
She also helped me through school. When it came to detentions and suspensions (both in and out of school), I had more than both my brothers combined. This was because I’d get into fights, and I’d mention the word “gun” at times- then again, Columbine had happened around that time, and too many people were on High Alert for the next one, and didn’t take five minutes to actually listen to what I had said. She had to stand up to the school board after one such incident cost me a five-day suspension, because some fool wouldn’t take “No” for an answer when he kept pestering me for some cookies that I was saving for a group event, and the word “gun” was brought up.
Eventually, I managed to get into a college, a small local community one, which was very affordable, considering that financial aid effectively paid for the whole thing- no ten thousand dollar plus bill added to my credit rating, as it were. For the first semester, my mother was able to take me to and from classes, but in the next semester, she was unable to do this effectively. Thankfully, she managed to find a program where cabs from this one company, Rainbow Cabs, would take vouchers, which were promises that the State would give them extra money for the trips, compared to what they’d normally get- I got free rides for the rest of college, and I wrote “Ode to Larry Cabbie” as a tribute to them and their great service- Larry, my normal cab driver, was actually surprised that I wrote a poem about him- I wouldn’t be too surprised if that poem is still hanging on the wall in the lobby, or wherever, of the company.
After college was over, I really didn’t have anything to do- the economy wasn’t exactly hiring wet-behind-the-ear college graduates who had no previous job experiences. My mother got into contact with this organization that helped out with the Autism walk, and had helped me during college. Through them I met up with some Community Aids, who take me to places, and to volunteer at some. Eventually, because of them, I managed to get a job as a janitor at a factory that produces lights and mirrors for trucks.
My mother has gone through a lot on her quest to help me, my brothers, and herself out. Sometimes it was good, sometimes it wasn’t so good. However, I love her, because she means a lot to me.
WC 1059- Entry in 4/12 "Journey Through Genres"