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    Taking the Long Way Round: My Son, Autism, and Redefining Success


    These are very hard words for me to write, let alone to say. Initially, we’d say Asperger’s. But now that it’s not even a thing anymore, we say ASD. Somehow the initials feel less grave. Less final. Less life-altering. But the truth is, everything is different now, and no new phrase or abbreviation is going to change that.

    Life with Liam has not been easy. After recently turning down a great (non-freelance) job offer to stay home with him, concerned with his catastrophic and violent outbursts, difficulty adjusting at school, and day-to-day chaos in the family with the new baby, my husband and I found ourselves at our wits end. We really didn’t want to take him to a specialist. We didn’t want him to be labelled. I think we both feared for what we might find, that our son–who we’d always thought of as brilliant and tenacious and stubborn and clever–would be held up to scrutiny and found… different. Sure, every kid has their quirks. But any parent going through a situation similar to ours knows there’s a point where you break. Where you stop blaming yourself for being a bad parent and you get clarity, perspective, and everything stands still.

    It became clear to me that Liam might be something altogether different when my husband and I startedwatching the television show Parenthood. In the show, for those unfamiliar, Adam and Kristina Braverman start out the first season with their son Max’s diagnosis of Asperger’s. After watching Max’s story unfold, and seeing his behavior acted out on television, I started to see a more clear picture of my own son. The tantrums, the obsessions, the violence, the black and white thinking, the anger and frustration over changes of plan, the patterns. Michael and I would get really quiet as we watched his scenes, and things started to come together.

    And in some ways that’s expected. Nothing, so far, has gone according to plan with Liam.

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