Motley Moose – Archive

Since 2008 – Progress Through Politics

Asperger's Syndrome

An Aspie Success Story

I have written before about my grandnephew Tristen who has Asperger’s Syndrome. He has not had an easy time of things. His mother had to fight the establishment to even get a correct diagnosis for him. She was on Medicaid after she was dumped by her husband with three children under the age of six with $15.00 and one suitcase of clothes for all of them. No home. No food. No anything. She refused to give up and finally got the Asperger’s diagnosis and was able to start trying to help her eldest son.

I took a long time for Tristen to come to grips with his emotions and learn how to function with his Asperger’s. He had many meltdowns and more than one hospital stay. He and I were always close but I had to be a distant presence in his life because I was caregiver for my Mom. Tristen missed out seeing his great-grandmother when his Mom and the other two children came up with her then fiancĂ©. Tristen was in the hospital after a major meltdown and his maternal grandmother was taking care of him.

After Mom’s death I moved down to be closer to Bernadette and the children and her new husband. Tristen and I have a special bond. We have been close since he was born. As he has gotten older Tristen has started to show interests in many of the things I am interested in. He is a good artist. He did a great picture last Christmas of Nathan Fillion of Firefly on black paper with white pencil. He loves computers and is the family’s tech support. He got involved in technical theater. I have my degree in theater. He has started to watch Shakespeare. I love the Bard.

Tristen is now a Junior in High School. He is Treasurer of the National Honor Society. He is one of the senior tech persons for the school’s theater. He is doing incredible art.

He was just named “Student of the Year.”

So for anyone who has Asperger’s, for anyone who has an Aspie child, for anyone who loves an Aspie like I do let Tristen be a shining example. Aspies can succeed. Aspies are incredible people. And for my Tristen a great big Woo-Hoo! I am so proud of you.

International Asperger’s Day

Today is International Asperger’s Day. It is celebrated today because the man who first recognized this was Hans Asperger who was born on this day in 1906. Although Asperger’s Syndrome is now classified as Autism Spectrum Disorder those of us whose lives have been touched by this still refer to our loved ones as Aspies and indeed they refer to themselves as Aspies.

My grandson Tristen has Asperger’s Syndrome. It has been a long hard struggle for him but he is doing fantastic now. He has well above average intelligence. He is a junior in High School and already colleges are trying to convince him to become a student at their institution. He is in National Honors Society. He has overcome bullying because he is different. He has learned how to make friends.

What is an Aspie like? An Aspie will walk a mile in heavy traffic to make tea for me when I am sick. An Aspie will come over and clean out and tune up my computers. Did I mention we refer to him as Tech Support? An Aspie is a person who towers over me and will wrap his arms around me and say, “I love you Aunt Michele.”

How does an Aspie think? These are some thoughts Tristen had posted on Facebook.

Vision: How can the future be so hard to predict when all of my worst fears keep coming true?

Wishes: When you wish upon a falling star, your dreams can come true. Unless it’s really a meteorite hurtling to the Earth which will destroy all life. Then you’re pretty much hosed no matter what you wish for. Unless it’s death by meteor.

Tradition: Just because you’ve always done it that way doesn’t mean it’s not incredibly stupid.

The Secret of Success: What is The Secret? Pretend you’ve already achieved it- Then offer to sell The Secret to others.

Pressure: It can turn a lump of coal into a flawless diamond, or an average person into a perfect basket case.

Problems: No matter how great and destructive your problems may seem now, remember, you’ve probably only seen the tip of them.

Pessimism: Every dark cloud has a silver lining, but lightning kills hundreds of people each year who are trying to find it.

Overconfidence: Before you attempt to beat the odds, be sure you could survive the odds beating you.

Madness: Madness does not always howl. Sometimes, it is the quiet voice at the end of the day saying, “Hey, is there room in your head for one more?”

Indifference: It takes 43 muscles to frown and 17 to smile, but it doesn’t take any to just sit there with a dumb look on your face.

Government: If you think the problems we create are bad, just wait until you see our solutions.

My Aspie is smart, funny, generous, and loving. Today is International Asperger’s Day. It is a day to let the world know you love an Aspie. I love you Tristen.

Dispatch from the Island of Misfits

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I now have a diagnostic mental health label. Hooray for me.

I don’t doubt the label is correct. It almost certainly is. It’s just that I’m a little angry that something I knew about myself, about my own strengths and weaknesses, had to have a label applied to it just to be honored. It was necessary, and I can even understand intellectually why it was necessary. But the fact is that I felt compelled to seek a formal diagnosis when I don’t really feel disabled.

Mostly, I’m frustrated that it should matter so much in my situation.

We’re a society obsessed with labels. We group people by every category and attribute imaginable, then set up systems so accessing services and protections depends on these labels. Want to be protected from discrimination? You had better be labeled in one of the ‘protected classes’ of the applicable statute. Want special educational services? Better be labeled with a qualifying disability.

Diagnostic labels can be incredibly helpful. They can foster understanding, direct treatment or guide rehabilitation. But none of those things is really the case with me. In my case, the diagnosis is strictly to allow me access to the protections of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 as amended.