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View Diary: The Atlantic Magazine is Looking for Essays About Autism Diagnosis. Here's What I Submitted (88 comments)

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  •  I have a son on the spectrum (30+ / 0-)

    up where they used to label kids with Asperger's. The doctor who diagnosed him called it Asperger's, but also told us that the Asperger's label was going away and that he wasn't happy about it--he and a few others who helped us felt it better summed up what was going on.

    Our biggest take away from the long process to what many would consider a very late diagnosis is that no two people with Asperger's or Autism are alike. That's tough for people to deal with because of the way labels are meant to be applied to groups of like things. People assumed that my son would be good with numbers or fixate on them and freak out about his belongings not being in order.

    My son is chaotic, can't keep anything in order, leaves a mess in his wake, can never remember where he left things that he needs. He's incredibly absent-minded.

    He's lousy with numbers, but very articulate and a pretty decent, natural writer with a developing talent for presenting good arguments that are backed up with references and facts. We've questioned a few incredible stories that he's shared with us and have always ended up sorry that we ever doubted him. He's quick with those references.

    He fixates on a topic and dives deep on it for a period of months or even years. He knows it inside out. He sometimes talks like a term paper, but appears to be outgrowing that.

    Once he's proved his point or cited the source, the argument is over. No debating for the sake of debate--that drives him crazy. He's a very literal guy, so isn't great at philosophical discussions and is an atheist because that leap of faith isn't concrete enough (he tells me there's a high percentage of nonbelievers who have Asperger's-- he's probably right and could prove it).

    He's unwaveringly loyal to his friends, so is often blown away when that isn't returned. His lack of social skills are improving, but he sincerely can't see that his lecturing style, the way he talks at people about his latest interest tends to drives people away--especially kids his age.

    He doesn't mind speaking in public to a group of strangers, which makes him the odd man out in our family of introverts.

    His doctor told him Asperger's isn't a barrier to success-- the Microsoft campus has a good-sized support group for employees with the same diagnosis. Not that programming interests him. Maybe he'll write policy or speeches.

    I think it's great that you have submitted an essay and are helping raise awareness through writing about your daughter. I'm still processing all that we have learned.

    Felt good to talk about my son a little bit here, though.

    Thank you.

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