Below is my story for the writing project. It is the story, basically, that I have told others over the years in order to explain Asperger’s and how it affects Peter; it seems to have worked, as many adults (coaches, teachers, friends’ parents, etc) seem to understand him a bit better, and/or take his humor well.
When Peter was in preschool, people used to tell me “at least your son is verbal.” I could just cry, because what good is being verbal if no one can understand you? It broke my heart to see my 4-year-old son climb under the dining room table or into the corner behind a chair hysterically screaming, “No one ever understands me, I wish I was never born!”
Sometimes when he flew into a rage, he would just disappear; no matter how loud or often or urgently I called his name, he refused to answer. I was reduced to tears, wondering why I, his mother, could not get what he was saying. For a long time, I walked on eggshells whenever I spoke to him, flinching for the tantrum that would come when I once again had to ask, “What do you mean?”
Then in kindergarten, a break through.
One morning, Peter insisted on wearing red sweatpants with a green shirt that had a small, black stripe across the chest. His father told him no, it didn’t match.
“It does so match,” Peter said.
“Red and green don’t match,” his dad argued. “Either wear blue jeans (which to this day Peter refuses because of the way they feel) or change your shirt,” his dad persisted.
“Don’t you know what color this is?” Peter yelled, pointing at the stripe. “It’s black.” As if that cleared everything up.
His father looked incredulously and threw the pants at him.“Fine, wear whatever the hell you want,” he yelled back, and he stormed out of the room.
Peter looked at his clothes, confused. “Peter, honey,” I said tentatively. We were still at the stage of potential major meltdown at any misunderstanding. I was kind of surprised the conversation was this far along. “Are you saying the clothes match because you’ve seen me wear red and black together?”
Peter slowly raised his head, slanted his eyebrows together, his mouth deepening in a frown, and I braced myself for what was coming. “Mom,”he said somewhat calmly, but peering from under those brows. “Don’t you know when you mix red and green it makes black?”
Then we both smiled. That made all the sense in the world.