Ben did very well in the early grades learning to read and spell. His writing, however, was atrocious. He became a wonderful reader and seemed to comprehend everything he read. Also, he became an excellent speller and absorbed correct grammar and punctuation along the way. His math skills seemed to be the weakest link in his learning process. In the early grades, he did fine in math, but in middle school and high school, math was definitely a problem for him.
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Ben began to realize he was different from the other children. In kindergarten the children were playing “Duck, Duck, Goose.” It is a game that requires the one who is “it” to choose another child to be the next “it.” When he did not get chosen, he would cry and cry. We later learned this to be the beginning of a life filled with depression.
 
Some teachers learned that Ben would obey written commands better than oral instructions. During these elementary years was when we discovered there was a disconnect between what he heard and what his brain processed. Some without realizing the disability thought he was lazy or just did not want to obey. Ben has always appeared so very normal; however his disability was and is as real as one who cannot get around without a wheelchair.
 
When Ben was nine years old a psychologist from the Mayo Clinic in Minneapolis, Minnesota, came to South Dakota, where Ben and his family lived on the Air Force Base. It was then that he was diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome. The psychologist explained that the Asperger’s Syndrome was like an umbrella and under it was also Attention Deficit Disorder, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, and Depression (At least in Ben’s case).
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Ben’s dad was transferred to Randolph Air Force Base, TX. That is when we began the process of learning all we could about the disorder. Soon after their settling in San Antonio, Ben’s mom heard about a conference that was going to be held in the Dallas area. Dr. Tony Attwood, the leading expert in the field at the time, was to be the main speaker. She attended the conference and came away with a wealth of helpful information. As an aside, when Ben heard that she was going to the conference, he said, “Good, Mom. Maybe you can learn how I can make friends.” Ben had no friends and it was sad when his birthday came around because there was no one to invite to his birthday party. He realized this and was actually grieved because of it.

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Filed under: Asperger Syndrome

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