This guest post is from Anne K. Ross, the pen name for an award-winning writer and school psychologist with three decades of experience working in public schools in Northern California. Anne is the mother of two young adult sons; her oldest has Asperger’s. She is the author of the new book Beyond Rain Man, which has received rave reviews.

I’ve been a school psychologist in public elementary, middle and high schools for a little more than thirty years, but when my oldest son, Matt, was finally diagnosed at age eleven with Asperger’s, I was shocked and immediately embarrassed that I hadn’t understood that Asperger’s was part of the autism spectrum, and that the spectrum was so broad it included this thing I didn’t even know how to spell.

I quickly learned that even though Matt was smart and a good student, his tantrums, inflexibility and tactile defensiveness were all part of the syndrome. We finally understood why he could be so black-and-white and rule-bound. Why he got stuck on the way he thought things needed to be. Living with a kid with Asperger’s and working with kids with autism, I learned about the breadth of the spectrum: how no kids looked exactly the same, how it is really a genetic roll of the dice that determines what strengths and weaknesses show up in individual kids. I’ve also learned a few strategies over the years for helping my son—and our family—get through the rough times.

It’s tactile defensiveness, not a lack…

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