I’ve recently been reading your posts on Aspergers to help understand how to support my oldest son, and frankly to better understand my own personality as well. I suspect that I have Aspergers as well, and feel that this understanding could have saved me years of confusion, struggle, depression, guilt about my isolation/avoidance tendencies and life choices. 

Re: your recent education post about the dinosaur dig conversation when noticing another kid(s) on the dig had Aspergers, but the parent probably didn’t know. That gave me a zing — I connected with that — that you had this casual, shared observation with your son about Aspergers. (No big deal — it’s just what it is. Oh look, there it is.)

My questions: at what age did your son learn of his Aspergers? How did you tell him? What made you choose that timing/age to talk to him about it? Do you have any guidance to share on this?

The advice our pediatrician gave us, years ago (diagnosed PDD-NOS, sensory integration, mild/high functioning) was that he needs to stay immersed amongst “typicals” and to keep him engaged, to support him with his sensory integration with OT, but not to worry about the label. Not to identify with it. That labeling could cause more issues to the developing self esteem. But we were also told that as he got closer to middle school, he would probably exhibit more as Aspergers, and to re-evaluate then if it starts impacting his school life.

Well, sure enough… He is now eleven, becoming more self aware, and (outside of our home) his social skills are often awkward and off the mark. But as homeschoolers, and as a quiet home-body rural family, his Aspie stuff isn’t impacting us, nor his educational path. His siblings/family and dog are his close companions, but he only skims the surface with his homeschooling peers… No close pals. (he says he really wants a close friend, but he still really only ‘parallels’ with others outside of family.)

It should be noted that it was public school that was impacting his self esteem. It was disrupting our entire family life. As soon as we pulled out, after struggling for months about IEP issues, then we finally pulled out after a significant bullying episode (violence against our son), our lives as homeschoolers quickly became peaceful and interesting. We pulled out during his 1st grade year. We never looked back.

He doesn’t remember all the IEP/intervention/classroom assistant/social support stuff, plus the two years of private therapy. Quite frankly, I wish I didn’t remember half of it, it was overwhelming. I feel like a lot of it wasn’t even needed — like we were sucked into some huge early-intervention/diagnosis/insurance loop/IEP/public school funding machine. But we just never really talked about it.

Other than “everyone is different and unique and sometimes we need some extra support sometimes.” So, no. I’m not at all psyched about possibly re-evaluating or identifying him as autistic when his only real reference so far is a severely, low functioning autistic teen who is our neighbor, and who holds a soft spot in our hearts — but that is currently what “autistic” looks like to my son’s eyes.

The kids take other homeschool classes too (tennis, martial arts and violin), so they are out and about a few times each week. But I’m a major introvert, and I could stay at home for weeks and weeks and be happy as a clam. I have my kids, my husband, one good friend, my books — that’s all I need. But I know that my kids need more. Yet, I don’t value all the attempts at park days and co-ops, because they burn me out after just a few weeks — and I don’t see the benefit of putting up with all the crap involved for the little bit of social reward/balance that is gained.

Ultimately, I feel like our comfy cozy nesting days are coming to a close. My oldest is now a tween. He is realizing that he feels like a fish out of water more often than not. How do I start the conversation, referencing the more accurate Aspergers label, which isn’t even recognized anymore?