Sometimes, it's hard to share my sons' diagnosis with others.
I'm afraid of labeling them, afraid of giving people a reason to view them as "different". Afraid that others will only define them by the diagnosis, rather than their own, unique personalities.
However, I've had the opportunity to see the positive side of informing those around me about my sons' struggle with Asperger's Syndrome.
Just last week, I had two different individuals show their support and concern for Little Guy by consulting me about ways to best handle certain situations with him.
The first was a neighbor who had invited Little Guy to her son's birthday party. There were about 20 little boys invited, and this mother was worried about Little Guy and how he might react to the crowded, noisy environment. After speaking with this neighbor, I was able to warn Little Guy guy about what to expect at the party, and he was able to handle the situation much better because I was able to prepare him beforehand.
The next was the young man who is dating Sis. Our family went to a college function and told Little Guy that he would be there. Little Guy really likes this kid and was quite excited to spend time with him. Unfortunately, we arrived later than expected and caught Sis's friend just as he was leaving. This guy is familiar enough with our son to know how unexpected changes can upset him, and could tell that Little Guy was planning to spend much more time with him. He quietly explained to me that he needed to leave and asked what he could do to help ease the situation for Little Guy. We still experienced a few tears as this young man left, but I was able to help Little Guy rebound more quickly because we were informed and prepared for the unexpected departure.
These actions might have seemed trivial to these individuals, but they made a world of difference for me! I am so grateful for their thoughtfulness; it proved to me that choosing to share our story can increase support, awareness and acceptance for those struggling with autism.