Asperger is not a Cheese.

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The name Asperger always reminded me of Limburger, the smelly cheese.

Yes, Asperger’s Syndrome also stinks but in other . . . let me count the ways. Socially, developmentally, organizationally, motivationally. Sick of the Ly’s yet?

That’s okay, because I’m done with the intro and moving into the heart of the cheese, if cheese has a heart. My son has a heart, as well as Asperger’s, although I’m omitting the word, “syndrome,” since it’s rather ominous sounding like the “plague.”

My husband and I didn’t know that our son had Asperger’s until several years ago, as he was first diagnosed with ADHD in kindergarten.

A very kind teacher, who also had a son with ADD and wanted to prevent our son from going through the elementary school torture chamber, noticed my son’s aberrant behavior, like dancing on desktops and sticking pencils up his nose. Not really. He just didn’t pay attention and would stand up and jump around when he was supposed to sit down and focus on his ABC’s or other inert learning objectives.

Playground play and social interaction wasn’t much better since my son was always rather impulsive. If he wasn’t the first kid in line, not a problem, he would push the kid in front of him out of the way. If he wanted a ball another kid had, he would just take it. Parents, teachers, and kids did not take kindly to my son’s actions. My husband and I wondered what the hell was going on, which brings us back to ADD and fifth grade. Did you notice how I not so subtly moved this post ahead in years?

In roughly 2002 when my son was in fifth grade, if my memory isn’t warped like the rest of me, while my son attended a rather unfriendly LD (learning differences) elementary school in Westchester County, New York, he suddenly developed an aversion to school. We consulted countless psychiatrists and alleged ADD experts but got few satisfactory answers. Meanwhile, every morning getting my son dressed and ready for school was equivalent to a WWE wrestling match.

This culminated with me carrying my son to the car and throwing him in it. I’ll leave out the agonizing details of what happened when I finally got him to school and left him in the “care,” I use the word loosely, of the school psychiatrist, also used loosely. Let’s just say a lot of screaming and crying went on as I left the building, and I’m not talking about my son. Yes, I am, but inside I was screaming and crying with him while driving to work two hours late.

I know this all sounds rather cruel, but my husband and I didn’t know what else to do. Years later, I read somewhere that when Asperger’s kids reach puberty they begin manifesting the symptoms of the disorder. I also read that someone can have both ADHD and Asperger’s, which is also known as a comorbid condition, which is like hitting brain Lotto.

Stay tuned for more on “Asperger is not a Cheese.”

Do you have the tee-shirt?
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Next Exit Past Asylum Street.

On the road, Mom, Dad, and son head to college admissions. We’re watching all the signs.

Just passed Asylum Street.

A warning.

On the shoulder, a discarded sneaker left standing.
Farther down the road, another sneaker on its side.

Where are the feet? I dare not ask.

Strange roadside happenstance up ahead.

Minimum security prison on the left. Prisoners trapped in gray jumpsuits jogging in line across a yard, or not. It’s more like concrete grass. Prisoners like concrete, especially the shoes.

In the side view mirror, barbed wire fades into glass.

Now gone.

We continue past moo moo cows and cornfields, past boonie towns and weathered barns. On the road to infinite asphalt sky. Zero. Nothing, but gray ribbons twisting in the wind.

Luckily, GPS Gladys is our gal. Her voice, calm and reassuring.

“Continue along route 666 for another mile,” she says.

We follow.

Close to our destination we are told.

A sign confirms it. “Cheer up your lawn with manure.” It says. I say, “WTF?” We’re heading toward Crazy 8 Campus, stuck in mud beneath morphine sky.

“You’ll be taking a right in one mile,” pipes Gladys.

In exactly a mile, we turn onto Crazy 8 Road behind a slow moving Honda, with a bumper sticker on the back that brags, “You just got passed by a girl.”

We pass the Honda. A guy is at the wheel.

“Destination on the left in 500 feet.”

“Thanks, Gladys.”

Click.

She takes a nap.

We take a seat in Crazy 8 hall.

Taken any road trips lately?
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My Son the Mimbo

Okay. I’ve said it. My 20-year old son is a mimbo — a male bimbo. He had to catch a 6:15 a.m. flight this morning. I was ready and waiting at 4:30 a.m. So, what does he do at 4:30? He takes a shower. Thirty-minutes later, he’s ready to go; we arrived at the airport twenty-minutes before boarding. I dropped him off at the terminal, told him to call me if he needed me, and took a drive around the airport to kill time. Instead, time killed me. It was 5:50 a.m.

As I drove past an airport building, my cell phone rang. “I’m at the kiosk, but I forgot to bring my flight information.” While my blood pressure accelerated like a 747 down a runway, I screamed, “Go to the counter and check in. I’m going to park, and I’ll meet you there.” I’m sure he wasn’t thrilled about the “meet you there” part.

I hit the gas, took a right toward the parking lot, and screeched to a stop in the first space I found. While I raced toward the terminal, the sun rose above it casting a shadow over me as I entered the building.

Two escalators down later, I arrived in the middle of a throng of bleary-eyed travelers, and headed for the counter where my son was engaged in conversation with a female desk attendant. Both son and said attendant had a worried look on their faces. “Is there a problem? ” I called out while approaching the counter. Does a bear . . . ?

“He missed the flight,” replied the woman.

My son stuffed a hand into each pocket, and shuffled his feet, as his knapsack flopped up and down on his back.

“Isn’t there anything that can be done?”

“I called ahead,” said the woman. “They told me the flight was closed.”

I glared at my son thinking, he showered at 4:30 a.m.; he showered at 4:30 a.m. To shut off the echo in my head, I looked at my watch. It said 5:55 a.m. The flight was due to leave at 6:15 a.m. “Isn’t there any thing that can be done?” I repeated.

“The next flight leaves at 9 a.m.,” she said, then left the counter, and disappeared off into airport land.

I turned to my son and began lecturing him on the importance of not taking a shower at the same time you’re supposed to leave the house. I could tell by his clenched jaw and throbbing vein in his neck that he really appreciated my input.

As I was about to launch into another tirade, the woman suddenly appeared behind the counter with a look of panic on her face and blurted, “Run!” In my head I heard Run. Forest Run.

So we ran, the three of us, in perfect synchronized form, one behind the next, through the terminal, snaking in and out of shoulder-to-shoulder traffic until we reached the security line that jutted out into the arrival area.

The desk attendant approached the security desk and began to explain the situation to the officer, a large burly man, as I lagged behind and my son got on line. After a minute of wild hand gesticulations and lip gyrations, my son was flagged through the first line, only to find that he had to get onto another line to take off his shoes and dump his large backpack into a small plastic bin on a conveyor belt before being zapped by the body scan. Once he was through, several people ahead of my son parted to let him pass in a red sea sort of way.

There was nothing more I could do but watch him clear security and continue running in socks toward the gate, with a sneaker in each hand, as his backpack bobbed against his back.

I took a deep breath, checked my pulse, and went back to the counter to thank the desk attendant. “I had to do it,” she said. “If I didn’t get him through, I would have gotten in trouble.” It was a long convoluted “you’re welcome,” but a “you’re welcome” still the same. I nodded and left the building with thoughts of his return flight breakdancing in my head.

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