One thing that I haven’t mentioned on my blog before is that Sweetie has Asperger’s Syndrome.  I hadn’t mentioned it because I used to ask him to read my blog, but I’ve realized that I need my own private place to put my thoughts down, without risking about hurting anyone’s feelings.  This morning I shared with Sweetie that I haven’t been posting on my blog as much lately, because knowing that he reads it makes me hold back on what I say.  I added that I haven’t even shared my blog with any of my friends, because I tend to edit what I write in terms of who I think my listener is.  And I really need to let it all out.  Sweetie immediately offered to stop reading my blog.  He didn’t even blink, he said that he totally understands.  Actually, I think that he has a blog out there that I’ve never read.  I so appreciated his understanding, and not taking it personally whatsoever.  Just one of the many amazing things about my husband.

Sweetie was diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome in February 2008.  Ironically enough, it was  his mom who suggested that he be evaluated for Asperger’s– not me, the one who works in the autism field!  But up until then all of my professional experiences with autism had been with people who have the most severe forms of autism, who aren’t able to talk or who talk very little.  The fabulous individuals with autism whom I worked with had trouble with problem behavior and self-stimming– people whom you’d easily recognize as having autism.  I have a friend whose son has Asperger’s, but I didn’t really know much about it, and I certainly didn’t know how to recognize it in adults.

In the summer of 2008 Sweetie’s Mom suggested to me that Sweetie might have Asperger’s Syndrome (AS).  I guess she’d been reading up about it or something.  She brought it up to me by first musing that Sweetie’s father might have AS– and then she segwayed into wondering if Sweetie might have AS.  The thought had never occured to me.  I asked her some questions about Sweetie’s childhood, about some of the common signs of Asperger’s in kids, such as talking like a “little professor.”  I only knew about the most obvious signs of AS in kids.  Sweetie’s mom shared some things that got me thinking.  Yes, Sweetie definitely used vocabulary that he picked up that was way beyond his level, among other things.  I kind of put the question– does Sweetie have AS?– in the back of my head to think about later.  When I looked at a number of things about Sweetie that I’d always thought of as unrelated– for example, his sensory sensitivity– it kind of hit me in the head– oh, of course he has AS, how could I not have realized it!

But in the end I’m really glad that I’m not the one who had the idea that Sweetie might have AS.  It means the world to me that I see people for who they are, not for their diagnosis.  Sweetie is Sweetie, just as each of my students is a beautiful, unique individual.  I worry sometimes, though– if I’d realized that Sweetie had AS when I first met him, would I have approached him differently?  I worry that I might have gone into a caretaker mode, rather than into an equal-partner mode.