My Family's Struggle with Asperger's and ADHD


I have two sons, both of whom I am extremely proud. Both of them have always been extremely sweet and smart, but as my oldest started getting out of the baby stage, I started noticing things that I hadn't before, but I tried to brush them to the back of my mind as being neurotic or projecting my own past onto him, and telling myself not to do that. See, I always had suffered from social anxiety, and had been bullied at school, so when he started having some of those same issues, I blamed myself and went into Momma-Bear mode with his school, which had been the school I attended from Kindergarten through Graduation. 
Unfortunately, the teachers and principal acted as though they resented my "intrusions" into my son's education, as if I were bothering them. And the principal was the worst, however; talking about my son as if he had a mental handicap, or was some sort of an animal. I was defensive; angry. But that was unproductive. We went through a battery of tests when he was five, that showed him to have ADHD, and then through the painful process of finding a medicine that helped him with that without messing with his moods or making him nauseous. 
Time went on, and even with the medicine, something still wasn't clicking at school. He was brilliantly smart, and a sweet child, but he had "frustration issues". The second time we had him tested he was nine years old. This time they were able to diagnose something that they hadn't before-- Asperger's Syndrome, coupled with the ADHD. 
Suddenly, a lot of things started to click into place in my brain. This "thing" he would do with his hands and call it "thinking". (If he doesn't have his think time when he needs it, he tends to get cranky. He once explained it to me as his thoughts were like a beehive on full buzz, and that he needed to clear them out during that time.)  His lack of understanding certain social demands; his frustration issues... It was like it all made sense. Finally. But, even with that, I still cried for an hour when I heard the diagnosis. I did not want my precious boy to be labeled. After I calmed down, however, I started realizing this was a good  thing; he was still the same boy he had always been. A label did not change that-- but that label could allow me to get proper help for him.   

And, so, we returned to the school with confidence, and paperwork from his pediatrician as well as the main school district. Unfortunately, the principal literally tossed it back to us and said, "We are a private school; we don't make special arrangements for anyone,". Ugh. But, we still tried, to our frustration, anger and tears until it was just too much, even with the school district providing special tutors twice a week. His third-grade classroom teacher tried, I think, but with no one else backing her up it was just fruitless, and what had been an A+ average fell to a C. He was upset, depressed; felt like he'd been placed outside of society somehow, but didn't understand why. He kept telling me that the school authority was "out to get him", and while I tried to convince him otherwise, I had a hard time convincing myself.   
The last straw finally came when I had to pick him up from school because he'd had a tantrum, and the principal refused to tell me what had happened, and what was wrong. I told him "Just tell me what happened!" and he scolded me like a child for daring to raise my voice to him. Perhaps because he had been principal for my last few years of high-school he still thought of me as a teen, maybe remembered a few of my rebellious days, I don't know. But, when he told me that my son's Asperger's was my fault because I was a bad mother, I absolutely snapped

Maybe it was inappropriate, maybe it wasn't. To this day I don't know. But I sent my son out into the hallway and I went off.  I don't even remember every word I said, but it doesn't matter. Suffice it to say, they expelled my son that day. (My younger son, however, was still enrolled.) This time, however, I was too angry to panic. I already had two friends that lived close to me that happily  homeschooled their daughters, so I started looking immediately online for resources, and found an amazing Cyber Academy for my state, that was accredited through the public school system. (And even though he and his staff were as unhelpful and downright rude as possible about getting me the records I required to enroll him somewhere else, I still managed.)  
We loved it. There is a schedule to follow, online classes he can do a few times a week, and the rest is just him and I. And the resource material that is provided is amazing, as well as a miles better curriculum than the school he was already attending. He still missed time with his friends, but I did everything I could to try to have him around other kids. His little brother was jealous that his brother got to stay home and he had to go to school, but I knew I needed to get used to how everything worked, and let him finish out the school year where he was, as it was more than half over.   

And I got to have some special one-on-one time with my buddy that I hadn't in a while, because he had fits of frustration about me helping him with homework, saying it was "baby". But now that I am his learning coach, we do almost everything together, and that gap I was starting to feel with my boy started shrinking away.  Naturally, once the next school year began, I had started his younger brother in the Cyber Academy as well. And they are both doing great. Both are happier, more relaxed. And even though they don't see other children five days a week, they still have friends that they can get together with, which is great.    
I feel badly that I wasted time being angry with ignorant people who treated my son as "less than". I feel badly that I wasted time wallowing in neurotic worries about social issues. But, we cannot live in regrets of the past. The most important thing is to always look forward, and to make sure that my children both have the best possible future they can as the independent, strong and brilliant men that they both are growing into; and that they always know in their hearts that Momma Bear is in their corner and on their side. 


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