Sharing and growing with an Asperger’s child (and it is me that is growing!)
I sent a request to Ron Fournier on LinkedIn the other day, who wrote the book “Love That Boy”, to congratulate him on his book and waking me up! Ron, in case you read this, your book had made me laugh, cry, experience humility and in general helped me grow. I wanted to publicly say thanks and give an endorsement! My posts generally are about employees, culture, leadership, branding and business. This time its different, it’s about sharing a learning and besides I am not a Facebook person.
Maybe it’s a guy thing, but it is pretty rare that we share our personal struggles, frustrations and misgivings. I am also one of those people, hence, no Facebook account. As I continue on this life journey, I am learning that it is a mistake not to share and that most of us have many of the same issues and can learn from each other. Ron’s book is all about his personal journey and I learned a lot because he was able to share.
Speaking of sharing, there are a few marketing colleagues that I have known for a while that try to get together at conferences and Xmas to catch up on life. We usually talk about our jobs, where we might have ‘pushed the needle’ and where we ‘lost some ground’ since we are all marketing leaders at companies in the area. Usually we talk a little bit about our families and how everyone is well and then we move on to work. This year was a little bit different and I am not sure what happened, but we talked about personal things and I don’t think it was the wine! What we learned is that everyone’s family has dysfunctions, not all our kids were Harvard bound and there was an existing source of comradery that we had never even thought about tapping into.
Ron’s book had the same kind of effect on me. Ron is a successful journalist, often away on trips or consumed in his job while trying to reach and build a relationship with his Asperger’s son. I could relate! He uses the word Aspie’s and I like it because it sounds less like a label, almost like an award. Similar to Ron’s experience I can remember trying to understand how and why my aspie was different. My wife and I can remember driving by school and seeing our son eating alone outside in the third grade at school. We recall how bad we felt seeing him eating alone not realizing that this feeling was about us and that he was quite content to be in his own world; in fact, he was looking around, swinging his feet without a care in the world.
With the education system (and me ashamedly) using words like “main streaming”, teamwork, collaboration, demanding decent grades and sports participation and not realizing all the while that I was focused on me and not my son. All of our trials at medicine, doctors, testing and counseling were masking the awesome individual I get to experience. I can now step back and appreciate his humor, stop what I am doing long enough to listen to his deep, detailed, sophisticated, photographic type memory and knowledge of sports cars. Before he could see me just giving his passions lip service. I missed out on some quality time with him but am trying to make it up. This is why I wanted to share this with others, don’t miss out on the time while you have it!
I don’t want to give away any more of Ron’s book but it really hit home and I can not thank him enough for sharing his experiences. It changes how I perceive the world of being different. Maybe we all need to share just a little bit more than our successes!