The article about you in today’s Des Moines Sunday Register touched my heart deeply. What a wonderful service you provided by sharing your lives and selves with others, to help us all learn to understand each other.
One of my grandsons has Asperger’s Syndrome, and like you, DJ, was misdiagnosed — until he was 11. Although he can speak, and does not have to rely on typing, he spent years frustrated and struggling. He was kicked out of regular schools for biting and hitting when he was young, and finally spent a few years in a special school to help him find his focus, and get a fresh start. Now he is attending classes like you are.
Your story helped me understand something of how my grandson Benjamin feels. He lives in Phoenix, Arizona, and we are in Michellville, Iowa, not far from Grinnell. We are not able to spend much time with him, and I appreciated so much reading about your anxiety, DJ. Thank you.
Benjamin has “meltdowns” which no one understood for years, because he was lost in the crowd of “ordinary (neurotypical) kids. He was not distinctive enough to be identified as someone with a different way of perceiving life, rather than a naughty, undisciplined boy.
I knew that Ben was afraid, but not what to do to help. Your book will certainly be a great inspiration to our whole family. Ben counts on his parents, just as you do, DJ.
Have you read Temple Grandin’s book about herself? She is autistic, with a rare gift for understanding animals and people, and a wonderful writer. In that book (I can’t recall the name of it now), she speaks of her comfort and healing from being touched.
Know that you, DJ, are absolutely on the right track. All of us need to free ourselves — from anxieties, from whatever limits us. Our brains can change, with persistence and focus. A stroke three years ago is teaching me that much of what seemed lost can find new neural pathways.
I look forward to further reading from you both.