Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Talking to Caleb

Last night, the three of us sat at the kitchen table. Caleb sat in the middle, cradling a bowl of ice cream smothered in chocolate syrup (per his request). Chris and I sat on either side, watching him as he spooned bite after bite into his eager mouth.

Chris and I had a purpose to our assembly: we were ready to inform Caleb he had Asperger's Syndrome. Chris spearheaded the discussion, and handled the conversation with delicacy and kindness. First, he rattled off some of the services Caleb received. He then followed up with the question: "Caleb, do you know why you see those individuals?" Caleb look a slight bit perplexed and shook his head in the negative.

Then, Chris flipped through a book recommended by several friends and professionals, All Cats Have Asperger Syndrome. For those unfamiliar, the pages feature photographs of adorable felines accompanied by words that explain Asperger's in simplistic terms.

The pages said things like (of the Asperger child):

"He likes to be near those he loves, but doesn't want them to hold him"

"When things get too much for him, he may tantrum"

"Daily rituals comfort him, and he likes a good routine and gets worried if the schedule is changed."

Of course, the part that brought tears to my eyes was..

"Other kids make friends but don't invite him to play, and he may be bullied."

Surprisingly, that was the only passage of the book Caleb commented upon. He regaled some playground incidents where a couple of classmates refused to include him in play. Sadness filled my heart, and anger burned in my core.

After we finished the book, Chris expanded on the book and divulged his diagnosis. Caleb reacted to it with little fanfare and few words. He seemed more anxious about deviating from his bedtime routine, than soaking in all that was said.

Despite Caleb's stoic reaction, I was tearful. I wished every obstacle in Caleb's life could be removed. I wished we didn't have to impart such difficult news. I wished we knew what was to come in Caleb's life.

Wanting all words to end, Caleb scampered up the steps. Chris and I sat, relieved the news had been taken so well, but curious to know all that sunk into his skull.

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