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I am trying to help my Aspie with his homework. He has to write a paper, an English paper, about feelings. This is the worst for someone like him with Asperger’s Syndrome. Better the homework should be science or math, subjects where facts and numbers create enough distance and space for comfort. But it is not. So my son asks for help, and then rejects all of my suggestions. His milk-white hands clench, but he doesn’t reach to pull at his hair. We keep talking.

Still, it’s difficult to help someone who stomps on your help.

But that is him, and not him. The boy who is sometimes overcome by the kind of autism that lives in him.

When the tears start, and I hear him trying to breath through the emotions (like I’ve taught him, as if we could all do that, a gasp and pain leaves the soul), we take a break.

Or, rather, I do.

Because Asperger’s never takes a break. It stays with him every moment, every second, like a faithful pup that won’t leave his side. It turns up the volume on everything in life. Every sound, every feeling, every moment. He has to learn how to deal with that incredible noise, in ways that the rest of us can never really comprehend. And he’s done so well. If you met my son, you might just think he’s shy — and funny, and intelligent. He is all of that, and a bit more.

We made our peace with this unexpected visitor long ago. There’s nothing “wrong” here, just difference, an extra spice in life. There’s no “poor us” or “poor me” here. We look at it like this: why wouldn’t we get challenged? We are smart, and strong. We love working hard. We get through. We always do. We always will.

He is my son, and he looks just like me.

Red hair, bright eyes, big smile. And, underneath, an enormous heart that beats the same, no matter what words do (or do not) flow past his perfect, cherry red lips.

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