Interview with a Recovering Blond

Part of me wishes I could gather together all of the doctors and specialists that have something to say about my son. I would then throw them in a ring together so they can duke out his diagnosis. They all have something different to say. Part of me, if I’m honest, has been hoping to hear just one of them say that there’s absolutely nothing wrong with him and all the other opinions are bogus and he is brilliant and gifted and bound to be a smashing success in life. Unfortunately, the one thing they can agree on is that he is a blond. Here’s the thing about blonds– or should I say, those who are on the “blond spectrum”. They may be platinum blond, dirty blond, strawberry blond, sandy blond, bottle-job blond, verbal, non-verbal, savant, sensory challenged, antisocial, repetitive and so forth. No matter how you classify it, they are all blond. I brought my little blond-headed kid to Macon today to meet with an ASD specialist (who is named Dr. Duke ironically enough). She had one thing going for her for sure that has set her apart from anyone else I’ve talked to about Salem’s mystery condition. She has a son with Asperger’s syndrome. Three hours into our visit, I took the greatest comfort in knowing that she knows more from first-hand experience about what I am dealing with on a daily basis with my son than anyone I have consulted in the medical community thus far. Somehow, that gave her more authority to speak into our situation. She seemed very confident that Salem is an Asperger-blond, which nobody has come right out and said. For eight months now we’ve been circling the same spectrum. For crying out loud, will somebody please land the plane? Forgive me, but I would like to know just what shade of blond my son is sporting. When he was first born I studied all of the creases in his chubby fingers, and I knew that his foot was exactly the length of my pointer finger. If I look deep enough into his piercing blue eyes, his right iris bears a speck of hazel at 4 o’clock that identifies part of him, even if it is only a small part of him, with me. So while medical science is now more sophisticated than ever with all of its advanced diagnostics and complex protocols, a broad-stroke ASD consensus just isn’t good enough for me. Dr. Duke used a lot of confusing medical terms that left me nodding my head like I knew what she was talking about, but really I had no idea. I sort of tuned out most of the medical jargon and just fixed myself on this particular word she kept using… this word, “recovery”. In context, she said that she “recovered her son from Asperger’s”. He is now 17, and in mainstream education/gifted classes. He’s on Facebook, and he participates in study groups. Perhaps it was the fact that she looked identical to Christy Nockels, but she was/is completely gorgeous and hardly resembles the mother of a 17-year-old boy, much less one with a complicated neurobehavioral disorder. One thing I have noticed in my limited experience with other parents who are raising children with special needs, no matter if it is physical or of the less-apparent-to-the-naked-eye variety, we all just look sort of…weathered. We can all agree that parenting in general is exhausting, but there’s a big difference in looking tired and a looking weathered. Tired parents need a nap. Weathered parents need hope. Tired parents are training their kids to say please and thank you, to aim for the toilet, and to color in the lines. Weathered parents need hope that their kids will one day be able to dress themselves, to sit through Thanksgiving dinner without having a sensory meltdown, or that they will beat the odds of other special needs children who don’t typically grow up and get married and have children of their own. But this doctor, or should I say this mother didn’t look tired or weathered. She looked like somebody that I would enjoy having a laugh with over a glass of Cabernet. She looked like someone who had managed to rise above all of the statistics and not only recover her son but recover herself in the process. It reminded me that being a parent is hard enough, but when you’re the parent of a child with special needs, maintaining your own sense of self is without a doubt the first thing prone to falling by the wayside. I feel the tug to let myself go every single day. When you have a child that can’t stand the sound of loud laughter and covers his ears and starts screaming when you sing or even hum, you begin to naturally avoid things that you once found amusing. You wait until he is sleeping to play music around the house so you won’t be tempted to sing-along. Little pieces of yourself start to erode until you can’t recognize what formerly made you come alive. While you are so determined to provide every opportunity for that child to thrive, one can easily forget what it is like to thrive themselves. Dr. Duke gave me hope. Hope that Salem really could rise above this hand he has been dealt. Hope that the four of us Beasleys will learn how to live together under one roof in peace and harmony. Hope that when he is 17, I will be able to remember who I was before his diagnosis. So, our Macon voyage was successful today in the sense that I am returning home with a sleeping son in the backseat who is clutching his oversized stuffed bunny, and I now have a little bit better understanding of his blond-ness. But also I have a picture of hope that the future with a child with Asperger’s can hold some recovery. And I will take all the hope I can get right now.

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3 Comments

  1. Jade said,

    November 27, 2012 at 4:21 pm

    I love this; I love you, you ability to communicate, your outlook, the hope you paint for so many others, I love “little guy” and that he was blessed with such an amazing mother, father and family to face life with! I love it!

  2. Tabatha said,

    November 27, 2012 at 9:43 pm

    Its been too long since I checked in, dear. Lo and behold, this is the post I read after my long hiatus. Here’s to blondes of all shapes, shades, spectrums and syndromes. It can be hard to have a special needs child, naturally. But it can also be enlightening. X-man has been a tough little guy to raise, but such a blessing as well.
    Keep hold of yourself, love. Like you said, its all too easy to lose your identity, becoming just another special needs mommy obsessing over the details of your child’s life & disorder. I’m so glad you’ve found a doctor you can trust, who gives you hope. Sounds like a keeper ūüėČ
    Keep singing, if only in your mind. And as always, keep praying.
    We love you all!!! Hugs & kisses all around!

  3. Rebecca said,

    November 28, 2012 at 3:32 am

    Not sure if I have ever commented before, Salina, but have been following along. Love this post, and that you saw such a clear glimpse into a hopeful future. Praying for recovery for all of you. Thanks for being vulnerable with this.


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