|Me at age 5.|
I always felt different from a very early age. As I got older, I struggled with many of the challenges that come with Asperger’s, such as communication difficulties, being sensitive to loud sounds, a speech impediment, and other sensory issues.
I had to deal with bullying that occurred because of my differences. Fortunately, my mother (parenting as a single mom) was always a source of strength and inspiration for me.
Prior to being diagnosed, neither I nor my mother had an explanation for my meltdowns and shut downs and other issues. After the diagnosis, it was amazing how my mother reacted. She became my superhero.
She took me everywhere and pushed me into activities – many of which I didn’t want to do at the time, but in retrospect, I’m very glad that I did. Otherwise, I would’ve just isolated my entire childhood and adolescence.
|Me and my mom.|
My amazing mom wouldn’t let me use my disorder as a crutch for not getting involved in activities. I wouldn’t say she ‘forced’ me to do things, but she strongly encouraged me to do these things.
Long story short, I was involved in speech and drama, cheer-leading, and many other events that were highly social. Yes, those were some painful experiences in a way, but I hide my symptoms so well that others didn’t know that I was ‘different’.
I’ve failed to mention my brother up to this point. He was very supportive after the diagnosis as well. Our fights and disagreements and my ‘odd’ behaviors made sense to him at that point. In many ways, he was like a father-figure to me.
|Me, my brother and his wife.|
Also, he became a solid shadow of mine. For example, since we are only one year apart in age, we would run into one another quite frequently while at school, and he always had his eye out for me, especially when bullies started getting aggressive.
He was like my ‘bouncer’ – and other students came to realize that if they messed with me, they were going to have to answer to him at some point (usually when no teachers were around to intervene).
After my diagnosis, my brother learned about AS and truly did muster up a bunch of patience with me. As stressful as his role was as both my advocate and my father-figure, to this day he states that this role was rewarding for him.
He takes credit for some of my successes today, which is the absolute truth. Had it not been for my strong advocates in the form of a mother and older brother, I’d hate to think what kind of shape I would be in today -- mentally and emotionally.
Thank you Mom, thank you Nicholas.