Friday, April 23, 2010

Caleb was diagnosed with Asperger's Syndrome; I'm not sure if I've written that before. I guess it has taken me a little while to admit. The word "Asperger's" conjures up images of Rainmanesque individuals who can ramble off facts and memorize phone books but can't function with the rest of society. Caleb's no Rainman, but he does exhibit some characteristics that fall under the umbrella of Asperger's: little eye contact, fixation on things or people, sensory issues and trouble with transitions.

He's been identified as high-functioning. There are times when Caleb appears to be your average seven year old boy. Then there are days like today when his behavior is so strikingly atypical from his peers that I am aware of how vastly different he behaves.

That being said, my opinion on the diagnosis has wavered. Recently I indicated this to Chris and solicited his thoughts on the matter. I was surprised when he responded, "I've never questioned the diagnosis." It made me wonder if my questions didn't stem from mother's intuition as much as denial. I think when you hear a diagnosis like Asperger's you actually experience the stages of grief. The grief is the loss of the child you thought you would have and the reality of what is. I was going through the first stage: denial.

Today I think I've moved to the second stage: anger. Here's what happened: We signed up Caleb for a karate class at his school. Our intentions were pure: a chance for physical activity and extra time outside of class with his classmates. No, we did not consult Caleb on the class, but we assumed he would be thrilled. We forgot something critical about Caleb: he doesn't respond like your "average" child. To say he was upset would be an understatement. You see Caleb doesn't "go with the flow." Transitions and new activities are a major undertaking for him.

We were now in a parenting quandary: do we force him to take the class with the possibility for lots of conflict or do we allow him to bow out of the class but potentially send the message you can quit a class if you put up enough of a fight. We decided that we Woods don't quit and that Caleb would carry forth with the class.

Chris accompanied him to the first class with disastrous results. We decided we would see if Caleb fared any better on his second attempt. I was the lucky parent that would be accompanying him to his second class (by myself with three other kids in tow). Caleb was a wreck from the minute I spotted him at school. He was adamant he would not be attending the class. By force, I dressed him in his karate garb and escorted him into the room. He wouldn't stay in the room, he was upset, he was defiant and he was inconsolable.

The whole time I was looking into the class and watching 30+ boys happily practicing their karate moves and interacting with their peers. I was thinking, "Why can't Caleb be like them? Why does he make things so difficult?" I was mad. I was mad at him for being different and making me look different too.

I can't say I've been the best parent tonight. When I'm angry, I'm silent. I spent most of the evening silently stewing about the afternoon events. You see, Caleb is a enigma to me. I think the thing that makes me most upset is I just don't get him yet. I wish he could verbalize all his fears and frustrations and I could parent him accordingly. That has not yet been the case.

He fell asleep while I was putting the others to bed. I watched him laying in his bed. He looked so tranquil and sweet. I saw him as my little boy again. The events of the afternoon seemed to vanish. My silence was broken and I whispered a little prayer, "Thank you God for Caleb." God made Caleb who he is. I'm praying God will help me be the parent Caleb needs.


  1. Thanks for this post Becky, and for your honesty. Prayers are with you!

  2. Becky, I could not agree with you more. I have just recently moved out of the denial phase and have been experiencing the anger part. It's so hard knowing that things will just be harder for Graham. Hang in there!