Autism Awareness Month

Puzzle Pieces.

I'm sure you've seen the ribbons for Autism Awareness, with the many colored pieces all fitting together. It's an apt description for what life is like with a person on the autism spectrum, because you're always trying to figure out what makes them tick, what helps them get through the day to day, and what helps them to navigate this world of 'neurotypicals,' because the rest of the world is just so darn illogical. Yes, my friends, my child resembles Spock in some ways.

Last year, I wrote about the way I barely had heard of anyone with Autism when I was a teen and now it touches not only my house, but those of friends, too. What I am learning, through my own educational journey, is that it is more than likely we're getting better at diagnosing those who used to be called quirky, odd, strange, weird, or even mental.

Last year, I was hoping that a new school placement would be the right 'fit' (yet another puzzle piece) for Game Teen. It wasn't. It was like we were given a corner piece when we needed a middle. Fortunately, we got a better 'fit' soon afterwards, and GameTeen started the year in a school started by an educator who also has a child with Asperger's.

It's the closest 'fit' yet, though we still are trying to figure out some of the things that make GameTeen who he is-and some of those just don't fall on the Autism Spectrum. We'll eventually find it, because parents of children with Autism learn that we're on a journey of exploration with our kids. Some of it ends up being wrong, but ultimately, we do end up on the right path. It just takes longer.

The journey of exploration isn't just GameTeen's, though. This year, my studies, then attending a conference lead by Tony Attwood helped crystallize the thoughts swirling in my head. My educational path changed, and will be a few years longer, thanks to GameTeen and the school he attends. If my studies and research are fruitful, the educational path for students with Aspergers might be a little easier for them and their teachers. To me, if I can find an easier journey for those on the spectrum, then it behooves me to do it.

A year later, while there's no dramatic change, no solved puzzle-more pieces are fitting together. Some days, we wonder if we've lead GameTeen down the wrong path, but that's life when you're on the spectrum. A path can look wrong for a long time, then when you're about to turn back, it becomes clear that you were fine.

Eventually, we will be. GameTeen and all of us.


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