Autism Awareness With a Twist

At bedtime the other night, Justin had a question: “Mom, how did you know I have Asperger’s?”

Caught off-guard, I mumbled something about how he’d always been a little different from other kids, and how eventually we talked to some doctors who helped us figure it out. Then I wondered why he was asking.

“Like, how do I prove that I have it?” he wanted to know.

It turned out that the topic came up at lunchtime one day because one of Justin’s classmates has a more severe form of autism and requires special attention at recess. When Justin mentioned that he also has autism, the kids didn’t believe him.

Justin does not have the classic kind of autism that comes with severe language delays and a withdrawal into an inner world. And he doesn’t have the Rain Man kind that comes with genius-level abilities in certain areas. He has the invisible kind.

Asperger’s is called an invisible disability because most of the time, you wouldn’t know it was there. Yes, Justin takes language very literally. And yes, he tends to miss obvious social cues. But on the surface, the gap between him and his peers is narrow enough that he doesn’t really stand out. Much to his chagrin, apparently.

Rather than hiding from his diagnosis and trying to blend in with his classmates, my son was actively looking for a way to demonstrate that he was different.

How cool is that?