By the time our son was three, we were well aware that things were “different.”   

Tyler had a severe aversion to sounds.  

He would cover his ears in noisy places and would not go into any place that had a visible smoke detector/fire alarm on the wall.  

Any type of horn or alarm (or the threat of one) would send him into a frenzy.  

Tags in clothing were horribly irritating to him and I had to cut them out of every shirt or jacket that he wore.  

By Kindergarten, we realized that he had much more energy than his classmates, and definitely had a higher level of knowledge of advanced things.  

At five years old, he was obsessed with globes and maps, and could point to any country on the map that we asked him to.  

He knew the ins and outs of volcanoes, dates of historic eruptions and where all the major ones in the world were located.  

He loved vacuum cleaners and we had to make special trips to Lowe’s Home Improvement Store just so that he could look at them.  

He recognized them all by their brand name.  

His Matchbox cars in his bedroom were all lined up neatly, by make and model, and we knew better than to disrupt their precise order that he had designed!  

He could also read any word that we placed in front of him.

And then there were the tantrums…he could not be reasoned with during one of these episodes, until it was completely over.  

These tantrums would leave us exhausted as we tried to no avail to calm him down.

He was our first child, but we realized that all of this probably wasn’t quite “typical.”  

Did I mention eating issues?  

This was truly the most difficult part to deal with.  

Meal times were (and still are at times) beyond stressful.  

He just wouldn’t eat.  

He didn’t want any food that required him to chew.  

Just looking at certain foods would turn him off from eating.  

Family members and friends would tell us, “He’ll eat when he’s ready.  He’s fine.”  

Meanwhile, my husband and I were going out of our minds to get him to eat ANYTHING other than yogurt or pudding.  

We worried at restaurants that people would report us for neglect for only feeding our kid sweets!  

It took the work of an amazing Speech/Language Pathologist to get him to FINALLY chew bites of food.  

I swear she must have some kind of magical powers!  

His first meal of solid food was in her office, when he was three and a half years old.  

It was a McDonald’s cheeseburger Happy Meal and it was on a Wednesday.  

Yes, it was a moment to remember and there are photos documenting this pivotal victory!

The combination of all these “differences” together finally landed him a firm diagnosis.  

After years of wondering what it all meant, and many Early Intervention strategies later, our son was diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome at age six.  

While it was a relief to have a definitive name for all these things we had experienced for so long, it was crushing at the same time.  

This meant he was on the Autism Spectrum.  

What would Asperger’s Syndrome mean for our beautiful, blue eyed, blond haired boy?

Would he grow up to be independent?  

Would he be able to socialize and make friends?  

This started us down a path of reading many, many books on Asperger’s Syndrome, Sensory Integration and Autism.  

Temple Grandin became a household name for us.  

We found ourselves on a mission to “fix it.”  

We wanted to do everything we could as his parents to make things better and easier for him.  

We found an amazing Social Counselor that would forever have an impact on our lives and help Tyler with social skills and self-calming techniques.  

We were lucky to have her at the beginning of our Asperger’s journey and she helped pave the way through this scary, new world.  

We dove in head first so that we could understand our son better and be the parents that he needed us to be.  

Was all this stressful? Yes.  

Would we do anything and everything to help our child? Absolutely.

Fast forward five years…our son is an intelligent, caring, quirky and creative kid.  

He has an intense love for Science and Minecraft.  

The tantrums still rear their ugly heads at times, but they resolve much easier than they used to.  

We get through them, and we move on.  

Noises are still tough for him, but ear buds and an iPod have proven to be incredible tools!  

Social, Occupational and Equestrian Therapies are a part of life.  

School accommodation plans allow him to miss fire drills.  

If too much social interaction causes over-stimulation, we let him chill out by himself with a video game.  

Days straight of only eating chicken nuggets or pizza take the place of days before only eating yogurt and pudding.   

If our meal includes “gross food” that turns him off from eating, we don’t eat it in front of him.  

We’ve learned that this was never something to be “fixed” but something to be embraced.  

It’s a part of him that makes him a unique individual.  

He will tell you, “Autism is part of me and I wouldn’t change it.”  

This all may seem odd to some people, but being different is our “normal.”   

It has all become very typical for us.  

Are we perfect parents? No way.  

Do we still get it wrong with him sometimes?  All the time.  

A great deal of the time we feel like we’re flying by the seats of our pants.  

But we have all learned coping methods and strategies to help our son navigate through this different world.  

And we’ve learned how to better fit into Tyler’s world.  

We strive for continuous learning.  

Nothing is “wrong” with our child.  

He is on the Autism Spectrum.  

He did eat when he was ready; he just needed a little extra help smile


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