I'm working on a new book again. Every so often a topic presents itself as a book in my life, mostly through personal experience. Then I get obsessed. A subject for a book attacks me and becomes an itch that I need to scratch.
My first book about the Camino de Santiago was an attempt to make sense out of a life changing event-- walking an ancient pilgrimage in Spain. I wrote that book in a year while obsessing about the things that happened to me on that 500-mile journey. After that, I took a breather but the itch came back. I needed to share the lessons I gained from working with divorcing couples in the military. Every time I got tired and felt like giving up on that manuscript, I would see images of the people who survived their separation/divorce because of the principles I'd taught them. Those memories became a cattle prod for my lack of motivation and resulted in a book that, according to reviews, has stopped a lot of suffering.
And now, I'm driven by a new obsession. It happened as a result of COVID-19 when my Aspie son came to stay with us after he suffered a house fire. He is on the autism spectrum and is no longer a child. Our conflicts, and sometimes heated arguments got me to thinking about the learning curve we parents of adult Aspies (people with Asperger's syndrome) go through as we navigate the world of neurodiversity. When he was young and I wrestled with his diagnosis, there was a part of me that understood the disorder as a psychologist, but another side of me that just didn't get it.
"How could a kid with a Superior IQ have problems holding one end of a basic conversation?"
It was like watching a person playing a complicated board game and making it to Square 10, but collapsing on Square One. How was that even possible? Like Spock from Star Trek, who I swear was on the spectrum, for me, it was "not logical".
Physics-no problem. Calculus-Roger that. Software programming-check. Responding when someone says, "Cold weather isn't it"-Panic attack!
What's up with that?
First It Helps to Consider What the Science Says
According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of the American Psychiatric Association, the diagnostic criteria for Autism Spectrum Disorder requires that a child show persistent deficits in each of three areas of social communication and interaction. I've tried to call attention to the main concerns by underlining and using red font.
Here is a downloadable link to the DSM V criteria.
AND at least two of four types of restricted, repetitive behaviors:
Severity is based on social communication impairments and restricted, repetitive patterns of behavior.
Next post I'll try to make sense of these criteria by showing what they look like in the real world with real people. But in the mean time, I'll leave you with a real-world neuro-diversity success.