This is the last part of my story, thus far. Next week I'll get back onto normal aspie topics.
It was more or less assumed that I'd get married within a year of engagement but instead, it was exactly three years (to the day). A lot happened in those three years. Initially, I'd assumed that I'd stay with my parents more or less until the day I was married but Joanne had been renting with various groups of housemates for years and the proposed demolition of her building meant that she had to move out.
Eventually, on advice from my parents (and threats from my fiancee) I moved in with her. After a few months, we got tired of paying someone else's mortgage and bought a place of our own. After three years, we'd learned to solve our problems together and everything was going well. The wedding went off without a hitch too, though that was mainly due to my wife's carefuly planning.
Joanne and I on our Wedding Day.
My wife was always quite ambitious but I'd always been a "homey" person. I stayed in jobs for years and would take quite a "beating" at work from managers. It would take a lot to make me change jobs and since my library work, I've only had three jobs - all in computing. I've been in my current role for 10 years. I guess that it's not surprising that I'm quite structured in other ways too. I'm not ambitious but I did have a plan - and kids were next.
The First Child
It was I who suggested that we have children. My wife although keen in the early parts of our marriage, had started to enjoy life without them and took a little convincing. Our first son, Kaelan was born in September 2000, again, a neat three years after our marriage.
Kaelan's birth was quite traumatic and it wasn't helped by the fact that my wife had a fall while in hospital. He was a foreceps delivery when he should have been a cesarian. The forceps took him on the forehead and under one cheek and his head was pulled out sideways. Eight years later, those marks are still clearly visible.
Kaelan was paralysed for the first few days and had to stay in intensive care. Since Joanne's fall had given her a back injury, she couldn't get up and didn't see him for several days after the birth. Joanne took a long time to heal and I took time off work to help. We also had a nurse visit us for a while.
As Kaelan grew older, it was apparent to Joanne that there were other factors impeding his development. I noticed some of the issues but since I didn't go to mothers group, I never had any idea of what toddlers were supposed to be like. Plus, many of his "strange" activities, like lining toy cars up and sorting them by colour were things I remembered doing as a child.
At 18 months, Joanne and I had major relationship problems. I think that it was clear to us that something was wrong but we couldn't figure out what it was. We went to counselling but it did no good. It simply felt like "point scoring", who did what, who was right and who was wrong. It didn't address the underlying issues, just the symptoms - and it didn't explain why a brilliant relationship had suddenly gone dark.
Joanne's mother sent the two of us on a "Marriage Encounters Weekend". It was run by the Catholic Church and at first I was worried that they'd try to shove religion down our throats - after all, I don't think we'd been to church since we got married.
Instead it was very different, it was just three groups of leader couples who talked about their marital problems and taught us how to talk to eachother with love and respect. It was during that weekend that Joanne told me how she felt with our son and we recognised the problem for what it was - post natal depression.
I was very upset that weekend because I finally realised that she'd been in pain for a long time but I was interpreting her outward signs as anger. The weekend was probably the first time in years that we'd properly communicated. Today our communication and marriage is stronger than ever. I've recommended Marriage Encounters to several people but I think in retrospect that it's particularly applicable to aspies because it teaches you, right from basics, how to communicate and understand feelings.
The Second Child
After another neat three year gap, and once again, in our family's "special month" of September, we had another son. This time, we were ready for the PND and we insisted on cesarian. Tristan was born without any of the drama that accompanied his older brother - but his carriage had been difficult.
Fast forward two years (time flies in families) and Kaelan was starting kindergarten. By this time, it was obvious that there was something very different about him. I'd started listening to my wife more and I could see some of the problems but I still felt that some things weren't as bad as she made out.
Things became very stressful when the school started pushing for a diagnosis and eventually we took him off to get an ADHD/ADD diagnosis. We made the difficult (and long-researched) decision to put him on ritalin and he started to improve. A little.
Things took a turn for the worse when we were called into a school meeting and told that ADHD wasn't the full condition. They wanted us to return to our pediatrician and investigate his behaviour further. They said that for legal reasons, they couldn't tell us what the condition was but they knew. They also slyly nodded towards me and said "the apple doesn't fall far from the tree". I guess I probably should have felt insulted but I didn't figure out what they were saying until we were out of the meeting.
The pediatrician did a heap of tests and identified the condition as aspergers. I still couldn't see anything wrong with the cited behaviours - they were all things I'd done at home. Nevertheless, we bought some books on the subject and started reading up on things. My wife and I were reading different books at more or less the same time when she said "look at this, it's all about you". It was something I'd been thinking myself.
My poor wife. It was bad enough being the only female in the family but now, two of the men were diagnosed with aspergers - and our youngest son was beginning to show signs.
Two years later, we took our youngest for evaluation, expecting Aspergers. We deliberately selected a different doctor so that we'd have alternative sources of information (and second opinions). We were quite surprised when the diagnosis came back as high functioning autism. To us, it seemed like he was even closer to the textbook aspie than our older son.
Tristan and Kaelan on a Scout Weekend.
I started researching the differences between aspergers and high functioning autism. It appeared to be only a language delay. I reasoned that had our eldest been evaluated at the same age as our youngest (and without having had speech therapy before), then he'd have gotten the same diagnosis.
I put the matter in writing to Tony Attwood who confirmed it. These days, aspergers and high functioning autism are seen as clinically identical. We had a family of three aspie males and one nt female.
So that's where I am today, applying the memories of my past to both of my children's present to come up with a pretty clear picture of aspergers.