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Mom Loves Son With Asperger's

Asperger's syndrome is a high-functioning form of autism. Kelli Ra Anderson of St. Charles, Illinois, has two boys with Asperger's syndrome, ages 18 and 16. Besides hosting a popular blog for parents of special needs children, Anderson is a successful freelance writer.

She spoke in length about her firstborn child: "We knew something was different with John early on, but mostly in a good way. He began reading on his own at 18 months and could do numbers and some math then. In that respect, he was an amazing little guy. But as he grew older, he wasn't able to have two-way conversations with people and ask questions so people felt included in his conversations. He would just spit out information. To this day, he doesn't sense when people are ready to change the subject in a conversation. He keeps going on and on about his particular interests. When he was little, people were charmed by it, but when he got older, those traits became less and less acceptable.

"Growing up, he was delayed in fine motor skills, such as tying his shoes. His social interactions early on were different in that he would hug nearly anyone. We had to train him not to hug strangers and how to appropriately meet new people. He couldn't pick up on those things himself. By second grade, he had so many behavioral oddities the teachers didn't know what to do with him. In class sometimes, when upset or stressed, he would crawl under his desk to hide. He was trying to calm himself but using methods no one understood. He was diagnosed with Asperger's in the second grade."

She continued, "He's 18 now and taking his fifth year of high school, but not because of academics. He was double accelerated in math and science. He just couldn't cope with environmental stresses and sometimes class topics triggered him into meltdowns. We're in the process now of finding a college that would have supports in place for him. John is very social and loves being with people, but with his social deficits, not everyone wants to be around John.

"One thing I love about him is that when happy, he wears his emotions on his sleeve. There's a side of him that is childlike and sweet. When you combine that with his intelligence, it can be a nice package people can appreciate."

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