Some would call me a special needs mom. Since I can’t hear my children very well, my special need would be communication accommodations. ‘Face me when you speak,’ I repeatedly tell my kids, ‘so I can lipread you,’
Which makes it all the more interesting when one of my children also has a special need. What sets my 9-year-old Boy Wonder (BW) apart from the rest of the world is his inquisitive nature. From the time he could talk, he repeatedly asked his hard of hearing mom questions. His limited vocabulary and curiosity captivated all the grown-ups he knew.
Once, in preschool, BW asked his little buddy if he knew who the Beatles were. This was during a Halloween party, and all the other kids were busy inhaling their candy.
“Did you know my Daddy likes the Beatles?” BW asked his buddy. “Do you know Paul McCartney? He played in the Beatles.”
Not many kids under the age of 5 know who the Beatles are, let alone one of its lead singers. Obviously, little buddy didn’t have a clue.
So BW proceeded to unzip his Scooby-Doo Halloween costume to reveal underneath a Paul McCartney shirt that came to his knees.
BW exposed his shirt proudly. “My Daddy likes Paul McCartney. My Daddy took me to see him. I got to go to a Paul McCartney concert.”
My boy cracked up his preschool teachers with his T-shirt flashing. No other kid had a clue who the Beatles were.
A month after completing kindergarten, my boy was diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome, a high functioning form of Autism. Children with Asperger’s typically are bright, energetic, inquisitive, easily distracted in school, and unsure about social situations. Applying the knowledge these kids have in their heads with class assignments is often a challenge because they tend to lose focus.
BW is now two months away from his tenth birthday, and he’s still as inquisitive as ever. He’s an accomplished fourth grade artist, builds Lego skyscrapers that are architect-worthy, and knows more social studies trivia than most Jeopardy! contestants.
But when it comes to social skills in the classroom or in the neighborhood, my boy is baffled. He’s sensitive to anyone’s jokes or name-calling. If someone playfully tries to wrestle with him on the playground, BW considers them a bully. Never mind that the “bully” is a girl who just wants to be his friend.
BW also doesn’t get why he has to study spelling. This becomes a huge debate item each evening when he and I go over his weekly list of 15 words.
One of the words on his spelling list this week is “special.” Out of all the words, this is the one BW couldn’t spell correctly. S-E-P-C-A-L-L was how he wrote the word.
I saw the confusion in his eyes and heard the cry in his voice as he repeated the same spelling over and over. Granted, I had to do a very proficient job of lipreading him as his voice turned into barely audible whines.
It was a special needs mom trying to interpret her special (needs) boy’s spelling of “special.”
As SNL’s famous Church Lady would say, “Isn’t that special?”