Home > In Their Own Words > In Their Own Words – I Want My Money Back

In Their Own Words – I Want My Money Back

John Scott Holman struggled with undiagnosed autism for nearly 25 years. His diagnosis has enabled him to embrace his individuality and move forward. He writes and speaks publicly about his life with autism, hoping to inspire greater understanding and acceptance. Visit his Facebook page here.

At the tender age of fifteen, I saw my first psychologist, a stern, elderly man who smelled like a second hand bookstore. His full, wiry beard, was speckled with white and gray, as if it had caught the contents of an overturned ashtray. It fell past his chest, disappearing beneath the edge of his massive, oak desk. I wondered if it reached his toes, and leaned forward awkwardly, hoping for a revealing glimpse.

“Young man,” he said, startling me. “Tell me why you’re here.”

“Do you shampoo that beard?” I asked.

“Excuse me…”

“You look like Charles Darwin.”

He leaned back and stared at me, mildly annoyed, as if I was a fly he had noticed swimming in his coffee. “Your family is concerned by you behavior. I believe…”

“I commend you, sir!” I interrupted. “The world is experiencing a shortage of truly magnificent facial hair; you’ve got the best beard I’ve seen all year! You know who else had a good beard? Sigmund Freud. Are you a Freudian psychologist?”

“Young man, let’s try to stay on topic.”

“Right, beards… Nobody could beat Tolstoy’s beard. Now that dude had a beard!”

“Young man!” he bellowed, startling me again.

“Humph… Young man,” I muttered. “Just ‘cause I can’t grow a big fancy beard…”

The psychologist lifted a notepad from his desk and began scribbling absentmindedly. “I’m afraid,” he said, “that you have a very serious case of Bipolar Disorder.”

“Huh? How do you know? I’ve only been here for five minutes!”

“Trust me; I’ve been around a long time.”

“But… I’ve never had a manic episode, and the DSM-IV clearly states…”

“You, my dear boy, are an upstart!” the psychologist fumed, a fat, blue vein trembling in his forehead.

“Ok, chill dude… I’m bipolar. Whatever you say… Beethoven was bipolar. I don’t think he had a beard though…”

For as long as I can remember, people have been trying to figure me out. Other parents told my mother and father that I was clearly lacking discipline. Teachers refused me an education unless I was prescribed enough Ritalin to keep the Rolling Stones touring for another century. Pastors believed I was possessed, and prepared to wipe my projectile vomit from the pews when I trotted into Sunday morning service.

Hyperactive, precocious, and more than a little odd, I was truly a handful. Snakes, snails, and puppy dog tails? If only my mother was so lucky. Someone must have littered my gene pool with pixie sticks, happy meals, mountain dew, and an Encyclopedia Britannica.

“There’s something wrong with him,” my mother would sob. “He’s allergic to people! He won’t sit still, he won’t listen, he’s always hurting himself, and he’s smarter than my whole graduating class put together!”

I treated other children like overgrown action figures, ordering them about, an infantile Cecil B. Demille directing a playground epic. “C’mon Tina, say that line again, and this time, say it with feeling! Put down the Polly Pocket and explain your character’s motivation!” Eventually, my peers developed their own interests, and I was left to wander the playground alone, thinking of Ghostbusters, Power Rangers, and… existential motifs in Russian literature.

“Scotty’s latest obsession,” was a phrase used regularly to describe the most current of my all encompassing interests. At twelve years-old, I had forgotten more randomly collected information than most people will learn in college. My obsessions gradually became less and less age appropriate as my focus narrowed; retired barbiturate and amphetamine combinations used as antidepressants in the 50s and 60s; sadomasochistic undertones in the cinema of Joseph von Sternberg; and the impact of synesthesia on the literature of Vladimir Nabokov; to name a select few.

I wasn’t interested in girls, or boys, for that matter. My parents bought me a Mustang for my sixteenth birthday – I drove it all of three times. I wore the same few outfits day after day. I was diagnosed with ADHD, Generalized Anxiety Disorder, Borderline Personality Disorder, Major Depressive Disorder, and, of course, Bipolar Disorder.

True, I was rather emotionally volatile, but this was greatly exacerbated by the constant chaos which engulfed my family. My father had played major league Baseball for the Seattle Mariners, and was absent for the majority of my childhood. As a result of his career, my family moved dozens of times before I was ten years-old. When I was twelve, my eight year-old brother fell 31 feet from a ski lift, nearly dying.  If that wasn’t enough, the routine MRI, which followed his accident, revealed a tumor in his brain. He  later underwent a dangerous surgery to have it removed. My adopted sister was diagnosed with leukemia at three years-old. My father required an open heart surgery to repair a leaking mitral valve.

Though thoroughly weary of hospitals, I was typically content to find a quiet corner of the waiting room and study Italian Neorealism – “Scott, your sister is dying, no one wants to hear about Federico Fellini!”

Psychiatrists pumped me full of every neuroleptic in the book (Adderall and Celexa, medications which I am now benefiting enormously from, were withheld because they are contraindicated in cases of Bipolar Disorder). I was as incoherent as Mel Gibson at happy hour, and experienced agonizing side-effects which led me to attempt suicide.

My sister died at ten years-old, after battling leukemia for seven years. I was holding her hand when she passed. I was fed up with life, convinced that I was a waste of oxygen in a cruel and meaningless world.

I began heavily abusing street drugs, playing intravenous Russian roulette with every pill and powder I could get my hands on. I would wake up on the cool linoleum of my bathroom floor cursing my indestructibility – I was still alive.

I spent time in mental hospitals and treatment centers. Luckily, my obsession with drugs had a shelf life, as all my obsessions do. I lost interest and moved on.

At 24 years-old, my girlfriend suggested that I might have Asperger Syndrome.

“Huh?”

“Scott,” she said, “you can recite every line of the movie Cabaret, yet you haven’t seen it since you were thirteen. You just listed every currently marketed benzodiazepine in alphabetical order, apparently for my entertainment.

“So…?”

“You’re a walking dictionary but you can’t remember your own address. Not only can you not drive, you can’t figure out which of the three cars parked in your driveway is mine. I think you should see a doctor.”

“I’ve seen them all.”

“Scott…”

“Ok… ok… Wait, I’m autistic? I want my money back…”

How did I manage to live a quarter of a century without being properly diagnosed. I’m autistic – duh!

Discovering my autism has been my saving grace. I will never forget the overwhelming emotions that poured over me when I first read about Asperger Syndrome in the DSM-IV. I’m not broken. I’m not bad. I’m just autistic and that is alright!  Since being formally diagnosed, I’ve come to understand and embrace myself for the remarkable person I am. In a few short months, I’ve become a prolific autistic writer, with a column appearing this week on wrongplanet.net, a potential contract with a publishing company, translations of my articles in Hebrew, public speaking engagements, and an opportunity to travel to San Francisco to help Alex Plank and crew film a documentary on Hacking Autism.

Somebody pinch me!

Even when I had given up on myself, God had a plan for my life. I now have the opportunity to use my gifts to spread awareness of autism spectrum disorders. If sharing my experiences spares other autistics from going through the pain of living undiagnosed, my struggles will not have been in vain.

My diagnosis has been my vindication and my inspiration. I want to shout it from the rooftops; “I’m autistic!”

Well, better late than never.

Seriously though, I want my money back…

“In Their Own Words” is a series within the Autism Speaks blog which shares the voices of people who have autism, as well as their loved ones. If you have a story you wish to share about your personal experience with autism, please send it to editors@autismspeaks.org. Autism Speaks reserves the right to edit contributions for space, style and content. Because of the volume of submissions, not all can be published on the site.

  1. Oma
    September 29, 2011 at 3:43 pm

    Thank you for sharing this, John. What a great article. My grandson (5) has been diagnosed with high functioning Autism, and as far as I am concerned, is brilliant. He has a photographic memory, reads, writes, spells, memorized, and does things that constantly amaze me. But like you as a child, he obsesses and goes through phases… very intensely so. Still, I have great hopes for him and I am fighting every day to have him get the very best services, education, and situation to help him reach his potential. Your article reinforces that hope and my determination to do my very best for him.

  2. September 29, 2011 at 4:55 pm

    Thanks Oma. Autism is both challenging and rewarding. Please visit my facebook page for links to my many other articles on autism…

    http://www.facebook.com/pages/John-Scott-Holman/267958723228267

  3. September 29, 2011 at 5:18 pm

    John,
    Thank you for your article. My family and I have had some similar experiences (diagnostic and other). Most importantly, my young adult daughter with AS has suffered at the hands of professionals trying their best to understand and help her. Happily, she finally received the correct diagnosis and the correct supports. I have sent your article to her requesting her impressions. I have often uttered your title, “I want my money back”. I think she also says she wants her childhood and teen years back. Best regards to you in your future life.
    Sue Lerner

  4. September 29, 2011 at 6:34 pm

    Wonderful perspective! I shared it with my colleagues in education who work with students on the autism spectrum.

  5. Georgia Littlefield
    September 29, 2011 at 6:44 pm

    Thank you John, that was fabulous….good luck in the future….and I hope you get your money back….Georgia

  6. Heather Wagner
    September 29, 2011 at 6:44 pm

    I Have a 13 year old diagnosed with PDD NOS…THANK YOU SO MUCH for Posting!!! I wish you Great Success and Happiness and can only hope my son will have the same strength as YOU!!! GOD BLESS !!! :)))) People dont realize the difference in thought and HOW much More You Deal with!!!!

  7. Katie
    September 29, 2011 at 6:45 pm

    This is so seriously real, funny, sad, true and overall heartbreaking that you had to go through all the before finally getting the proper care and disgnosis that you were always searching for. And as for the Old man with the really awesome beard, why have one if you don’t want people to comment on it and why deal with children if you seem to write them off before they even get to talk.
    Overall i loved this and i think that you’ll do amazing things in life with the gifts you were given.

    Best of luck in everything.

  8. September 29, 2011 at 6:45 pm

    Besides being humorous and well-written, this is a very insightful piece. Loved it!

  9. Kimmad
    September 29, 2011 at 6:46 pm

    You are a fantastic writer with a real gift. I have a 7 year old with Asperger’s and he’s awesome. Thank you for your words!

  10. Joseph P.
    September 29, 2011 at 6:47 pm

    I like this story a lot!

  11. Mrs. T.
    September 29, 2011 at 6:50 pm

    John it has been a heartwarming experience to read your article. I am a special education teacher of 5,6 and 7 year old children. Many of them are autistic. I feel so priviledged to be a part of their life. They teach me something new everyday. They challenge me to help them become comfortable with peers and school demands. I hope that I make them feel appreciated, loved and safe. I continue to read and research as much as I can to make their days at school productive and fun. I do believe that my destiny was to cross the paths of so many special children and their families so that I could become the best educator possible. My own children are following in my footsteps by teaching students on the spectrum. Please continue your great work…I will be following your success!

  12. September 29, 2011 at 6:50 pm

    thank you for your insight on autism its a shame it took so long to be diagnosed well now you know where you stand. my son corey is autistic he is 20 years does not speak i am very proud of the person he is.corey is very happy and does not mind being autistic.be the person you want to be and be happy. have the best life you can have god bless you. .

  13. JudgeRoy
    September 29, 2011 at 6:52 pm

    Great article as always, Scotty. I’m so happy that you’ve been given all these opportunities. When you are rich and famous I am crashing at your place and perhaps sliding a manuscript under your nose. ;)

  14. Susan Laverty
    September 29, 2011 at 6:54 pm

    You are amazing! Thank you so much for sharing your story with us. I have two teenage sons 17 & 14 both on the spectrum…more Asperger’s than Autistic…and thank god they have each other and I have them! Yes, you definitely are entitled to a full refund! Take care. Susan

    • Wyndyl
      September 30, 2011 at 9:15 pm

      People with Asperger’s ARE Autistic. Just so you know.

      • KEMZmom
        October 17, 2011 at 12:20 pm

        Yes. Asperger’s in on the Autism Spectrum. But, there is an image of “autistic,” and and image of “aspie.” Is this stereotyping? Yes. It is. Did it give me a better understanding of her situation and experiences? Yes. It did. Please, friends, let’s make sure we use these labels as tools, as shortcuts in explaining the amazing jumble of quirks, needs, talents, and forms of expression the people we love HAVE. Not ARE. When we snipe over labels, we are focusing on differences, when we need to be drawing together.

        AND~ I have come to hate that word, too. label. I have an image of a cabinet full of naked cans. What am I ? What are you? Lima beans? Yuck! Spaghettios? I don’t want it, YOU take that one! NO WAY! YOU take it! ADD? gross! ODD? ewww even worse! Autistic? nope! not me! Asperger’s? oh, well, ok, if I HAVE to! These are people we are talking about, folks. My kids, your kids, you and me. Labels distance us from reality. Unless you are using them as just a tool. Be careful…

  15. September 29, 2011 at 6:59 pm

    John
    i loved your story, very sad to the beginning but a happy ending. I have myself a 5 year old Son who was diagnosed with Autism Disorder just last year. The first year with him was just fine, he developed normaly beside the fact that he was 90% taller and havier then kids his age, but that happens. Shortly after his first Birthday he started to change, he constantly screamed that high pitched scream when Spongebob came on or Wheel of Fortune, which he usually loved. That scream wasn’t a normal scream, it was like he was hurting, but Doctor couldn’t find anything wrong with him. He started to change more and more, broke about 25 Windows, broke all the Toys, broke 4 beds which where made either out of wood or iron. He was unusually strong, he could move a Couch with his sleeping father on there through the living room. He memorizes ever Fast Food Comercial or anything that has to do with Cars or Electronics. So one night when we had to rush him to the hospital because of his breathing, the Doc couldn’t look in his nose and i told him we have to hold him down, because he wont let any one touch him except for me or my husband. So the Doc told me to get him screened for Autism, which i did. After reading up all the Symptoms i was so relieved that i know now what was wrong with my son.
    So yea i can understand your frustration some where. But now that you know, i hope you can live a more peacefuller life.

    best luck

    anja harrington

  16. RJ
    September 29, 2011 at 6:59 pm

    I certainly think you should get your money back with interest!!!!!

  17. Kristy Trucks
    September 29, 2011 at 7:05 pm

    I have recently been diagnosed with aspburgers disorder but it was kind of they asked me questions and said i had aspburgers disorder but it wasnt my doctor it was a social security doctor. I have been diagnosed with adhd since i was in elementary and bipolar when i was 16 and at 18 i was Diagnosed with aspburgers. I guess i want to know more on aspburgers because my doctors only talk about my bipolar disorder to me.

    • Wyndyl
      September 30, 2011 at 9:19 pm

      Try http://www.wrongplanet.net it’s a site where a lot of Autistic adults go. You should find plenty of answers there, and lot more.

    • KEMZmom
      October 17, 2011 at 11:30 am

      Kristy, Asberger’s is different for girls, so I suggest looking for materials specifically on how we see the world. Aspergirl Maybe has a wonderful blog. Rudy Simone’s book Aspergirls: Empowering Females With Asperger Syndrome would be a good place for you to start. I think you will have a lot of “YES that’s exactly what I was feeling!” moments as you read and look back on your life. I’m as so sorry it has taken so long to find the right diagnosis, and the ride isn’t over yet. But now you are on the right road, so you will have some help steering. There’s an awful lot of us out here, so anytime you need to talk, one of us is just a few keystrokes away. Just make sure you share with and listen to encouraging and positive people, at least until you know you are sure of yourself. We have similar quirks, needs, problems, but no 2 aspies are the same, What works for me, makes me happy, or causes me discomfort will not be the same for you. Now that you have this diagnosis, if YOU think it fits after you have done your own research, forget all the other labels doctors have stuck on you. They obviously weren’t helping :) It’s hard. I won’t lie to you. But you are you, not the diagnosis. It is all about understanding. Understanding why you have felt the feelings you have felt, reacted the way you have reacted, and had a hard time with things that other people did so easily. And then, learning how to deal with it all. For some, meds help. For some, meds make it worse. But we all have to live in this world. It’s like dyslexia– you can read, but you do it a different way! It’s not wrong, it doesn’t mean you are broken and need to be fixed. You are you, and you are beautiful and amazing. And you are not alone.

  18. Matt Schwab
    September 29, 2011 at 7:10 pm

    Great article, John. Extremely well-written. My 8-year-old son is on the autistic spectrum, and I wonder if the world spends too much time figuring out what’s wrong with people such as Matty instead of focusing on their remarkable gifts. I’m glad you’ve found peace of mind.

    • KEMZmom
      October 17, 2011 at 11:44 am

      Matt, I agree with you. Too much time is spent on how to “fix,” how to “cure,” and I suppose if I were given a child on the other side of the spectrum, maybe I would feel differently. But for my family, I do not view this as a disease, and I dang sure don’t want my kids or other people thinking that way! Do we have to go through our day a little differently than most folks? Yep. Is that a bad thing? Nope. Is it a pain somedays? You betcha. Does EVERY kid have preferences and quirks? Uh huh. “Groan” ups do too! Is it easier to look at a kid and say something is wrong with him than to spend time learning if maybe –just maybe– HIS world is better? Oh yeah!

      AS/ADD/OCD can be excuses to settle for less in life, or they can be super powers. I’m choosing super powers, thank you! :)

  19. babbs
    September 29, 2011 at 7:16 pm

    I love your article John. You perfectly described my son in your paragraph on treating children like overgrown action figures….it gave me a good laugh, because you described Nicholas exactly. Nick was diagnosed at 3 with Developemental delay with Autistic Features. As a new mother that diagnosis scared me but I was able to get him into early intervention…speech, ot, pt. He is now 12 years old and is diagnosed with PDD-NOS. He has a wonderful neurologist who “GETS” autism. Your enlightening outlook on your “new” diagnosis gives me so much hope for my son. :)

  20. Willow
    September 29, 2011 at 7:21 pm

    wow! As a mom of an 8 yr old High Functioning Autistic son & the wife of a wonderful Autistic man I am so thrilled to read your blog! Good for you, John Scott for seeing that God had a much better plan for your life. I am continually amazed by my husband’s resourcefulness & strength…my son is constantly both challenging me & melting my heart by turns (we wont mention the grey hair I’ve gotten since his birth!) I think people on the Spectrum are wonderfully brilliant & loving. When my son was a toddler, I felt in my element…now that he’s in the public school system I’m continually fighting to stay on my feet & advocating for him! God bless you, dearheart.

  21. casey gale
    September 29, 2011 at 7:21 pm

    Great, great article! My 14 year old son is autistic and we have always embraced him just the way he is. Thank yo for sharing your perspective.

  22. September 29, 2011 at 7:21 pm

    Thank you for your article. It reminds me how lucky my son was to have diagnosed at age 5. He’s 12 now and doing quite well. Those who don’t know him may not appreciate all his quirks or his encyclopedic knowledge of esoteric subjects, but those who do think he’s a great kid.

  23. Dani
    September 29, 2011 at 7:26 pm

    Thanks for this encouraging article! I have 3 kiddos who are all on the spectrum and in the middle of getting help and figuring this all out. Proper medication has helped my eldest immensely! I don’t know how we functioned as a family without it.

  24. Lana
    September 29, 2011 at 7:26 pm

    Wow – I’m not sure weather to laugh cry or both after reading your blog. It came up on my facebook for Autism Speaks. I am glad you were finally diagnosed properly. My 13 year old son Michael was diagnosed at 7, and I was also SO relieved thatI finally knew what it was… he also rambled through phychologists, medications, etc. Adderall has been working great for him for years now. He sounds so much like you lol! I never need to look at a t.v. schedule or wonder what players won the home run series for the past five years :) I will visit your website (I saw it above). If you ever need a ‘staff writer,’ he is your guy. Most of what he writes is fit for The Daily Show or 30 Rock, so teachers are not always open to his ‘creativity.’ Take care – Lana

  25. Lisa
    September 29, 2011 at 7:26 pm

    I am so glad you wrote and shared this blog. You very eloquently just described the situation within our home.The only difference being leaving out a diagnoss of Sociopath! While my 6 year old was fairly easily diagnosed as Aspie, my ex-husband has faced wrong diagnosis after wrong diagnosis for the past 40 years. They were sold on Sociopath given to him when he was a rebellious teen. No one ever noticed his extraordinary skills and just shot him down over and over until he finally started in with the drugs, drinking, and sex addiction. He just wanted to live in a world of his own because the world at large “sucks.”Sadly, as much as he is learning now about being Aspie, the damage that has been done to his self-esteem is so severe he’s having a really hard time believing in life after proper diagnosis. He can see it in our son but, very rarely relates any of it to himself. Fortunately for my son, my genes seem to have made the chaos less for him than it ever was for his father, who had very abusive parents including a father just like himself. I am thrilled for the diagnosis that finally makes sense to you. I’m glad you know that you are unique and not bad. I can only keep hoping that my son’s father will learn to accept himself and stop hating the world at large.
    Thank you again for sharing, you should know how much some of us need to hear stories like yours!

    Lisa.

  26. Susan Manley
    September 29, 2011 at 7:26 pm

    Hi John

    I work in the computer games business and have met many people over the years that I suspect now are high functioning autistic. Brilliant and focused is the best description I can give them. Most of them engineers or artists. My son was diagnosed with autism at the age of 3 and he is 9 now. I recognize many of his traits in me in milder forms. Thank you for sharing your story. I will have to read the rest of your blog. – Susan Manley

  27. Kathleen
    September 29, 2011 at 7:27 pm

    John Scott-
    I enjoyed reading your blog. I like your style. You are very articulate and I wish at the same age I could have expressed myself as you do. Thank you for telling your story. Kathleen

  28. September 29, 2011 at 7:27 pm

    It’s articles like this that makes me feel better about myself. Thank you, John. My daughter is five and was just recently diagnosed with autism. My son is showing development delays characteristic of autism. I’m have to study everything. I always have. I’m not comfortable not having all information on the topic at hand, so naturally, I went to Google and several specialists and the EFMP coordinator at our local military installation and family support groups and the DSM. I want to know everything I can to help my kids, but in doing so I figured out why my bipolar meds only made me worse (and narcoleptic), why I could never bring myself to talk to all those doctors and therapists they sent me to, and why I prefer to sit as far away from everyone every time I walk into a crowded classroom. I talked to my mom about how “cute” she found my borderline eidetic memory, my echolalic tendencies and the fact that I could go on and on for hours about topics nobody but I seemed to care for. I finally figured out why the math equations in my head kept me from driving a car until I was 25 and why I have a panic attack when my driving route is altered by something as trivial as a construction detour. I always drive the exact same route to each location I go and don’t feel comfortable going a different way. There was so much I found out about myself after my kids were diagnosed. Why I don’t feel “love” for them all the time, though I know it’s there. Why I can’t always relate to my husband and often get side tracked in my own head about things that have nothing to do with what’s being discussed. I don’t have a diagnosis of Asperger’s, but I certainly identify with it. I don’t have bipolar disorder, I don’t suffer with major depression and when I’m off my meds, I function much more efficiently, which is counter to everything I’ve heard about people with bipolar disorder. There are a lot of things that are different for me now that I truly know what “is up with me”. I’m not wrong. I’m not depressed. I’m not “making it all up” as one psychiatrist said (of course this was after a suicide attempt and me reciting the address to every house I’d ever lived in and it was quite a few).

    I wanted to thank you. I’m 26, and have just begun to really explore who I am outside of the diagnoses I was given as a young teen through adulthood. It’s really glad to know I’m not the only one, that there is a who generation of us out here. We’re lost, everybody thinks there’s something wrong with us, but really we’re just a little quirky. My daughter is obsessed with clocks and time (she worries it’s running out), my son has cars and wheels. I have my algebra. We’re just a little quirky.

    • KEMZmom
      October 17, 2011 at 12:01 pm

      wow. Doesn’t it all make so much sense when we look back on our lives? Like, HOW did we not see this? I am so glad you are finally understanding yourself. It’s funny how much we discover about ourselves when we are helping our kids :) I hope you are able to get off the meds that make it worse for you. I know once the docs get a label on you, they want to keep it on you, and military docs! Yikes! Having the person signing prescriptions listen to you and be willing to follow your lead is so key to getting your life back. Just remember, ultimately, doctors work for YOU. Stand your ground, but don’t go too far in the opposite direction trying to prove your point. Some meds make it so much worse. Some meds help and you keep them. Some meds are just training wheels til you get your balance, and then you can take them off your routine. Until something unexpected happens and you get a little wobbly. But knowing which is which takes teamwork, and I hope you find a doc that you can work well with. Embrace your quirks, every one of them, and find ways to use them to make your piece of the world a little better for us all! :)

  29. September 29, 2011 at 7:30 pm

    While it is not at all rare for a story or real-life experience with autism to bring tears to my eyes, it is very rare that the tears be those of happiness. You have a wonderful story to tell; one of hope and endurance and as the mother of a quirky, amazing, and adorably autistic four-year-old that I fear and hope for every waking moment, I can attest to the fact that there are many who need to hear it. Thanks for the lift.

  30. Chris Gillespie
    September 29, 2011 at 7:42 pm

    great article john. we were lucky enough to have our son diagnosed at under 2. but it does not make helping him any easier. although through his diagnosis, my aunt got my cousin into the RIGHT doctor. he had been diagnosed slightly retarded, adhd, dyslexic… you guessed it… Autism/asbergers.

    i also follow carly fleishmann on facebook. she is also quite remarkable. or maybe that is the wrong term. i am stuck for a term actually. she is quite normal. just took her a while to get the rest of us to realize it.

    i look forward to reading your book, and finding out why my son does some of the odd stuff he does. hopefully one day he will be able to tell me himself!

    Great job. i wish you all the luck in the world!

  31. Alicia
    September 29, 2011 at 7:55 pm

    Thank you so much for sharing this, John. You are an inspiration.

  32. jennifer carlfeldt
    September 29, 2011 at 8:04 pm

    Wow! Great post!

  33. mary
    September 29, 2011 at 8:12 pm

    I am glad at least my ten year old has been dx with aspergers , now that they know more about it. He also has a lot of knowledge of rare things. I am hoping he doesn’t have to go down the road you did, but glad you found out what was going on.

  34. Ms. H
    September 29, 2011 at 8:14 pm

    Thanks for sharing your story, John. My son was diagnosed with Asperger’s when he was 13, and I thought THAT was late. It is frustrating that no one saw the signs with you, but then again, I knew something was wrong with my son and finally figured it out after reading about Asperger’s. As a teacher, I make it my mission to help students with Asperger’s navigate their way through the school year. Your story is a blessing and an inspiration to others. Keep telling your story to everyone! No, you were not broken, and I’m so glad you realized that.

  35. September 29, 2011 at 8:22 pm

    Congatulations! God does have a plan for you. Thank you for shareing. Know that you have helped alot of people with your messege.

  36. James
    September 29, 2011 at 8:30 pm

    Thank you, John, for sharing your story. We learned a few years ago that my nephew is high-functioning autistic. I don’t like to say that he “has” Asperger’s, which makes it sound as if he’s sick. He’s the most brilliant child I’ve known yet, and he has a memory like yours. I’m so glad we know he’s autistic. It has enabled us to support him and to embrace his differences.

    I’m impressed by your writing, which is a revealing insight into the capacity an autistic person can have for empathy. Sometimes my nephew is so detached, so hard to communicate with, that I would never imagine him writing anything like this.

    Oh, and I’m glad you didn’t let up on your psychologist about his beard. Sounds like he needed it pulled.

    • Wyndyl
      September 30, 2011 at 9:26 pm

      I agree that “having” Asperger’s doesn’t mean you are sick. I especially disagree with “Asperger’s disorder”. I don’t think there is anything wrong with saying “Asperger’s syndrome”. I think it is a huge mistake to treat a child (or an adult) as if having Autism is an illness. Because it’s NOT.

  37. Sandra
    September 29, 2011 at 8:31 pm

    OMG. My grandson has 6 years old and is autistic. My daughter knew something was wrong with him since a baby. He is very inteligent and with a lot of love we are trying to lead him to a normal life. Thanks for the article. S. from Puerto Rico

  38. John Scott Holman
    September 29, 2011 at 8:32 pm

    Wow! I’ve read every one of your comments… twice! You guys are making my dreams come true! I’m crying as I read these!

    I am SO BLESSED!

  39. D
    September 29, 2011 at 8:40 pm

    All those “professionals” and it took a girlfriend to figure it out. Shame, shame, shame… you DO deserve your money back :)

    • KEMZmom
      October 17, 2011 at 1:12 pm

      I see how that can happen quite frequently. In the doctor’s office, everyone is on script, following their designated roles. It is so crucial that the family and doctor have no preconceived (prejudiced) diagnoses when going in for evaluation. Some docs lean toward bipolar, some depression, some AS….we see what we want to see. A girlfriend sees you in all situations, with your guard up and your guard down. None of the professionals we saw ever picked up on any of us having anything. I had to really push the issue to get my girls seen by another doc for eval, and even then, his dx of Aspergers for my 13yo was based more on my observations than his, because she doesn’t kaboom in his office! LOL

      And John, I see plenty of money coming your way :) The trials you have come through are worth much to those of us still wandering lost. No, your solutions are not our solutions, but seeing that it’s this hard for other people helps. Seeing that someone made it through really helps. Finding all this out with a giggle thrown in every other paragraph….well, John, you can’t put a price on that. Well, YOU can. $24.99 is my suggestion. I’ll preorder. LOL

  40. September 29, 2011 at 8:48 pm

    Matt Schwab :Great article, John. Extremely well-written. My 8-year-old son is on the autistic spectrum, and I wonder if the world spends too much time figuring out what’s wrong with people such as Matty instead of focusing on their remarkable gifts. I’m glad you’ve found peace of mind.

  41. September 29, 2011 at 8:50 pm

    Very astute observation! You are so right. We need to focus on their remarkable gifts!

  42. ES
    September 29, 2011 at 9:15 pm

    I love the article and your writing and perspective on life. Some parents spend so much time moping about an autism diagnosis when perhaps they should be celebrating. Thanks for putting it all in perspective.

  43. emily
    September 29, 2011 at 9:29 pm

    Thank you for all of your words! So great to hear words of inspiration for a mom of a son with Aspergers!!!

  44. September 29, 2011 at 9:46 pm

    It takes courage to write about yourself in such an open way. You are an inspiration and I hope you are as proud of yourself for being so fantastic as all of us likely are!

    I write a blog following my families experiences with a 6 year old son with Asperger’s http://4boysandaspergers.wordpress.com. Can I link your blog to ours? It would be insightful for others.

    Thanks and keep smiling!

    Amanda

  45. Chantelle
    September 29, 2011 at 10:20 pm

    Thanks! I needed that laugh. My son Brennan will be 8 tomorrow, WOW, and he has aspergers as well. I hope he finds his “thing” soon. He asked me what I was reading and I told him a story about a man who has what you have and he asked “can you read it to me?” So I said ” this man is a grown up now but he is smart and he reads books” lol he tells me “I’m smart i read books!”… ok this child refuses to even sit in his desk, he cleans the classroom floor with his shirt everyday! I am praying that he goes to school and becomes as smart and educated as you sir. Maybe you will be Brennan’s inspiration!

  46. LegoMom
    September 29, 2011 at 10:29 pm

    Thanks so much for sharing your story with us! My son is 12 and we are just entering the crazy time of adolescence. Your story gives me hope that when we are on the other side, my son will have grown a lot! Please continue to share your insights with the Autism community & the world. Best of luck to you.

  47. William Beck
    September 29, 2011 at 10:37 pm

    Great article, John. Good luck in life. -Bill

  48. Heather
    September 29, 2011 at 10:40 pm

    My daughter was diagnosed with Asperger’s at 18 after having a nervous breakdown during her freshman year of college and subsequent psychiatic hospitalization. We had heard the kitchen sink if diagnoses also–when she was younger it was OCD or anxiety or dyslexia. At the hospital, it was bipolar, GAD, MDD etc. What a relief it was to hear AS! It made so much sense and helped us understand the challenges, but made us hopeful for the future. We need more articles like this one–about newly-diagnosed young adults–trying to understand what role AS will play in their lives going forward. She’s starting again, empowered with KNOWLEDGE. Reading articles like this are inspiring.

  49. shanith
    September 29, 2011 at 10:49 pm

    Brilliant piece of writing. I am so encouraged as mom to 16 year old teen with AS to see successful stories. Thank you for sharing!

  50. September 29, 2011 at 11:19 pm

    Thank you for this eye opening article! My son finally recd the correct diagnosis of Aspergers last year. I took him out of public school and am currently homeschooling him. They were just letting him fall through the cracks. ADHD is all we would get, give him meds but they made him a zombie, wrong stuff I guess. We would prefer to stay drug free, but are sensing we may have to do something based on the fact that he is very impulsive. anyway your story was a breath of fresh air that their life with Aspergers and he too can succeed in life! God bless you and keep you!

    • KEMZmom
      October 17, 2011 at 2:49 pm

      Hi Zuki! you don’t say how old your son is, but wow! I wish someone had warned me that puberty knocks our aspie boys into another universe! So, if that’s where your family is heading, or you are there now, get some jet packs….you’ll need them to keep up with your son, LOL! The anger jacks up, his strength is superhuman— but he’ll have moments of tenderness and need some mommy time….and no warning which you’ll get any given day!All the quirks get amped up and tolerances drop to nothing. It’s a crazy ride, for sure! So, stay flexible on the meds option, he may need some extra help for awhile. I think of it as training wheels, til he gets used to the new body, LOL. If he’s zoned on meds, that’s not the right one for him. You will all know the right one when you find it. Or, just modify your expectations through the transition, which will be much easier at home than at school. Homeschool was never an option for us, since our gang needs to be around other people to keep them from pulling into their own worlds completely. It’s a balancing act for sure!

      • Paula
        October 18, 2011 at 10:31 am

        Thanks so much for posting your info about how puberty affects aspies. My almost 12 year old has the sweet personality and maturity of maybe an 8 year old but I am concerned about how puberty will affect him. A year ago we started to homeschool because he was so desperately unhappy at school. We were also in a social skills group but had to stop after about six months because he couldn’t take it anymore. He would cry about how the counselor would correct him in the group and then she would also verbally give him “homework” while out in the lobby in front of all the other people waiting for the next session. Even after I emailed her and asked her if she could do this privately, she continued to do it and didn’t even respond to my email.
        I’m worried that I am sheltering him too much but it seems that he can’t take long term exposure to other people. I don’t know what to do. Do I protect him until he’s old enough to handle it? Will he ever be able to handle it? I wish someone had an easy answer. And the meds we tried didn’t work for his ADHD. He can’t swallow pills and doesn’t like the taste of the liquid forms – nearly makes him throw up. Tried the patch but it just made him more anxious and nervous and didn’t help with the ADHD.
        So many problems to address and just no real answers. Are we trying to change our kids so they fit in? Should we just let them be themselves and be accommodating and supportive? I don’t know. Does anyone have any advice?

  51. Saray
    September 29, 2011 at 11:23 pm

    John, this is beyond inspiring. I’m a special education ABA teacher in a self-contained classroom of autistic students in grades 4-7. Not all are verbal, but some are extremely high functioning have some incredible talents. I feel if they could all communicate to the same ability, they’d express the same sentiments as you have. This article sheds light on a world that both fascinates and intrigues me. Thank you for your insight. May your talents and skills bring you the best of opportunities that the rest of us could only dream of, and may you capitalize on everything that comes your way; all in the name of bringing awareness to this incredible condition.

  52. Joanne Moss
    September 29, 2011 at 11:54 pm

    I know I am just one of many …but thank you. My son has been loosely diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder for the purposes of receiving Spec Ed services in his school – sensory integration diet techniques to help him to focus, transition and stay on task. My guy is brilliant. He is sensitive, has a fantastic sense of humor and loves to share what he knows. His current expertise lies in Sonic, dragons, pirates and violin. He is 10 (although he is a bit “immature” for his age). After all my research I have firmly believe he is high functioning Asperger. I am still trying to get my head and heart around that. My son knows he has “something” and that “something” means he gets OT services and gets to do some extra stuff to help him focus. I am wondering when the right time is to share what he “has”. I hate labels. I just want him to be …him. In all his amazing glory. And with some annoying quirks. :-) What do you think about when the right time is to tell him?

  53. Peggy Wright
    September 30, 2011 at 12:15 am

    You are fantastic and I am here to tell you life only gets better and better as you get older. I teach students with autism and I love it because of who they each are. Like you they are very smart, have special interests and talents, fantastic parents that will work till the death of themselves to help their children and every single one of them touches my heart each day and I am so glad they do. Keep writing you have a great mind. Thank you for being you!

  54. September 30, 2011 at 12:17 am

    You are awesome! You had me reading at your opening sentence! Looking forward to a novel from you :-) God bless you!

  55. Debbie Landry
    September 30, 2011 at 1:18 am

    Thanks for sharing!! I am sorry you had to endure that ignorant nonsense of your past! My grandson is 5 y.o and is high functioning autistic. I find people still don’t understand. Good Luck!

  56. Lee Blunt
    September 30, 2011 at 7:39 am

    Thank you for your engaging and enlightening article. I intend to share it with a group of ASD parents where the question of whether it was worthwhile to pursue a diagnosis for “adult children” was recently posed. You answered it better than I ever could.

  57. September 30, 2011 at 8:42 am

    Oh my Scott! Your article left me in tears. Really happy tears I think. My 15 year old son Dakota sounds so much like you. He is terrified of driving which is hilarious in a way because he has been saying for years he wanted to be a race car driver. He does love the go carts on a track though. The crazy “facts” he is constantly spitting out. The amazing memory! He is brilliant as are you obviously. He was never misdiagnosed he is high functioning Asperger’s/ADHD. His vocabulary is amazing. His social skills~not so much. If you are ever in the Kansas City area speaking please let me know! I would love to bring him to meet you. Tammy

    tamnkevmetzgar@yahoo.com

  58. Mallory
    September 30, 2011 at 9:52 am

    Thank you for writing your article, my 10 year old son who has Asperger’s Syndrome (AS) came across it and had to share with me. He was diagnosed with several things by the age of three before being diagnosed with AS just before kindergarten. Bless you for your struggles and your willingness to be proud of who you are. Keep writing these articles, they give 10 year old boys hope.

  59. John Scott Holman
    September 30, 2011 at 10:13 am

    4boysandaspergers :
    It takes courage to write about yourself in such an open way. You are an inspiration and I hope you are as proud of yourself for being so fantastic as all of us likely are!
    I write a blog following my families experiences with a 6 year old son with Asperger’s http://4boysandaspergers.wordpress.com. Can I link your blog to ours? It would be insightful for others.
    Thanks and keep smiling!
    Amanda

    You certainly may. I will check out you blog!

  60. John Scott Holman
    September 30, 2011 at 10:27 am

    Tammy Metzgar :
    Oh my Scott! Your article left me in tears. Really happy tears I think. My 15 year old son Dakota sounds so much like you. He is terrified of driving which is hilarious in a way because he has been saying for years he wanted to be a race car driver. He does love the go carts on a track though. The crazy “facts” he is constantly spitting out. The amazing memory! He is brilliant as are you obviously. He was never misdiagnosed he is high functioning Asperger’s/ADHD. His vocabulary is amazing. His social skills~not so much. If you are ever in the Kansas City area speaking please let me know! I would love to bring him to meet you. Tammy
    tamnkevmetzgar@yahoo.com

    I live in Kansas City!

  61. Crystal
    September 30, 2011 at 10:29 am

    Thank you for being inspired and vindicated by your diagnoses of autism. Your right you do have a purpose and thank you for helping pave the way for others. My daughter has autism too. God has bless you with the gift of writing and keep using it to continue to help those who are unable to use their voice. I look up to you. Also we need more people like you to make this world better for those living with autism. Keep up the great work.

  62. John Scott Holman
    September 30, 2011 at 10:30 am

    Once again, thank you all for your positive comments! Each one means so much to me and I have read them all multiple times! Keep them coming; your stories give me hope as well, hope that, in the future, society will learn to value the contributions of our extensive autistic community.

    My column should be up on wrongplanet today! I’m so excited to see how you guys respond!

    If you haven’t yet, please “like” my Facebook page any questions you may have there where I will be sure and respond to them.

    http://www.facebook.com/pages/John-Scott-Holman/267958723228267

    I wish I could hug all of you guys!

  63. Lee Rosenblum
    September 30, 2011 at 11:54 am

    John,
    Your post is great. You seem to have a really good perspective on a situation that has been pretty hard. We all could benefit from a similar perspective on ourselves and others. As a retired mental health clinician, I winced at your description of how well-served you’ve been by folks like me. I remember a case of a teenaged guy I evaluated during my training 30 years ago. His mom wanted him evaluated because she thought he might have Asperger’s. Nobody on my team knew much about it except that it was like high functioning autism. I met with the young man a few times. We had some interesting conversations about movies, zombies, vampires, and the like. I don’t think I did anything that hurt him, thank goodness. I told his mom that we didn’t know enough about the criteria to really diagnose her son as “having” Asperger’s. Looking back on it with more knowledge (both professional and through watching a niece grow up as an Aspie) this young man’s mom was probably right. More than occasionally, I’ve thought that they should have gotten their money back. I hope he has done as well as you seem to have. I have been mindful of my wish to have a do-over many times. Remembering him has always made me try to find ways to make sure folks got their money’s worth from me. On a completely different level, I think it’s so funny how the first shrink you saw completely missed your brilliance. His loss. I look forward to reading more of your thoughts.

  64. September 30, 2011 at 2:54 pm

    I read this in shock at first. Somewhat upset of how you were being treated, but not sure where this post was leading me.
    I have no experience, nor have I ever even met someone who was autistic (or at least I don’t think I have) but I am interested in learning more.

    This did resonate when I read it: “Even when I had given up on myself, God had a plan for my life.” I think today, I’ll not complain or whine. :)

    Thanks for your post

  65. pawpasno
    September 30, 2011 at 5:02 pm

    Your message has been posted on a FB Group: Autism vs Ontario’s Provincial Election October 6th, 2011

  66. September 30, 2011 at 5:45 pm

    John….. shout it from the rooftops as loud as you can. I absolutely appreciate your candid and fantastic article. This is one time that a “Label” helps define a path to success and you have certainly embodied that beautifully! My son is on the spectrum(Aspie) and I am in process of looking at myself as one (working on an “official” diagnosis) I see no shame in it, it is empowering. Your skill is your writing. His is remembering. Mine is drawing. I will certainly share your article as it is a model for those struggling with this! I will also check out your Facebook page! Peace and wish you much more success in the years to come.

  67. September 30, 2011 at 9:07 pm

    I am glad that you have embraced feeling more whole now that you have a name for what makes things the way they are… just so long as you don’t see it as a major impairment. In my business and also teaching, I have learned that all people are basically equally intelligent, but where the emphasis is allocated varies considerably.

  68. Wyndyl
    September 30, 2011 at 9:30 pm

    Such a great article! You are an incredibly talented writer, Scotty! Thank you for sharing.

  69. Brooke
    September 30, 2011 at 9:52 pm

    Mum said I needed to read this and I did- laughed through most of it- then read a few more of your blog entries. All the while with comments along the lines of “It’s like reading about a male version of you” or “I thought, this is so my daughter” or “I could just see the sort of conversation you two might have,” No offense, but I couldn’t see past our obsessions clashing horribly. Can see, however, that you are a strong-spirited individual with a great view on your life. Keep it up cause it’s good for you.

    I’m not officially anything and don’t really want to be despite it explaining a lot. Got a brother that is autistic and mum’s real supportive of all of us. You have to appreciate the mums. They kind of hold it all together and put up with us… even if it means listening to a condensed version of the entire series of MASH during a car trip. That’s love, man. It’s got to be otherwise they’d just tell us to shut up or find something else to talk about. It doesn’t help though, cause you always end up back at the same topic or at another with the same results when people try to get you to stop. Distracted, sorry.

    Lastly, I agree…. You should get your money back.

    Keep going, man!

  70. paula
    October 1, 2011 at 7:17 pm

    John
    I loved your story…..and you tell it so well….with such enthusiasm.
    I’m looking forward to hearing more. I’d gladly sit at the bus stop a little longer to hear more.
    Thanks.

  71. Kay
    October 3, 2011 at 12:40 am

    My son, David Rea, 15 years old was recently identified as high functioning
    Asperger’s. He was struggling with depression and transitions in life and
    high school. Although, my husband and I have always been aware of David’s
    differences, we never knew until August of this year that there was an
    official diagnosis for it…particularly since David was very high
    functioning Aspergers. David appeared normal. He played football and was
    very popular. As his parents, we knew he was “fragile”, but felt this was
    his inherent personality. We had no idea the extent of his internal
    struggles.

    David’s first attempted suicide was on February 19, 2011. This blind-sided
    us and we did not understand how a child that appeared to be “okay” could
    go from 0 to 100 in a flash. On the heels of a 7 day inpatient stay, we
    sought counseling for him and follow up care. We had no insight into
    Asperger’s during this time. David seemed to be doing fine up to the end
    of July. In the the last month, David went through a downward spiral that
    we did not understand and we were constantly trying to discern what was
    going on and why.

    During a 9 day inpatient stay for suicidal thoughts, I uncovered more and
    more about Aspergers during this crisis time with him. After leaving the
    hospital, we have been in the process of having David psychologically
    tested, trying to get psychiatric help, and in the mean time, trying to get
    him transitioned into high school with friends and activities. We lost
    the battle with David on September 8, 2011, as he committed suicide in our
    home before going to school.

    We are in the beginning stages of grief. In the mix, we know that we want
    to do something to raise the awareness for aspergers for parents,
    educators, counselors, doctors, friends, family, etc… We had a serious
    lack of knowledge and so did all of these people around us. Please give us
    your input as to what we can do for this cause in order to make David’s
    struggle make sense for the future.

    • KEMZmom
      October 17, 2011 at 2:15 pm

      Kay. I don’t have words. you are living the nightmare I have feared for years with my own girls. These kids hold it together so well— too well. I cannot imagine the struggle they have trying to “fit in.” My girls,too, are “fragile,” and their cries to just send them away, lock them up, get rid of them, chill me to the bone. My oldest’s teachers see none of the struggle, only a great student, joy to have in class, etc…I fear for her when she finally loses it at school and that image she has held onto is shattered. My middle girl is much more emotional, and I don’t know if that is better for her to get it out, or worse when you add the impulsivity…

      I offer my wish for peace for you and your family, and strength to get through the days ahead, until the day when your precious son’s turmoil can be used to save someone else such heartache.

  72. Lynna Gore
    October 3, 2011 at 11:48 am

    AMAZING!!!! I thoroughly enjoyed your article – your struggles, your humor, your acceptance all remind me of my own daughter, Kris. She was diagnosed at 25 years old. So many years of misdiagnosis that I too want my money back!!!! When she was finally diagnosed with autism, I breathed a huge sigh of relief. She’s made remarkable progress and I’m so proud of her. Best of luck to you and thank you so much for sharing your story. :)

  73. Eric James
    October 3, 2011 at 5:42 pm

    The original “absent minded” professor (The author, not the shrink.)? I realize there are bad/mediocre psychologists out there. Still, that is the purpose of the DSM, to give some quantitative guidance to psychologists who might be less than ‘Mensa’ as individuals.

  74. October 4, 2011 at 7:00 am

    John- I loved your post and am really looking forward to reading more from you. You write with great honesty and humor. My son has Asperger’s and your words are very insightful. Thank you!

  75. Cristina
    October 4, 2011 at 2:31 pm

    Wow, John. You have def. given me yet another reason to scream to the world Autism is just another way of living…. I have proof now!
    I got my Jacob intervention @ 18 mos. It might have seemed like the end of the world for my husband, but it was only the beginning of a new journey I was ready to dive into.
    My husband is active duty and always “out.” Kinda like your dad. I can relate to lossing a sibling. My lil’ brother died after fighting leukemia after a year at age 13. My mother had just had her 3rd year “(breast)cancer free” when he was diagnosed. I was 14 when he left us, so I can only remember feelings and thoughts.
    Now 28, I feel life is what you make of it. I’m pushing myself to be the best “single parent” I can be to my 3 monkeys. I’m determined to be the best advocate I can be for my lil’ 5 year old genius.
    Words can not express how relieved I am to read the “lyrics to your song.” I may not be able to hear it, but I love it already! God Bless you always!

  76. Maureen
    October 6, 2011 at 2:53 pm

    “Someone must have littered my gene pool with pixie sticks, happy meals, mountain dew, and an Encyclopedia Britannica.”
    I literally laughed out loud when I read that. No one has ever described my son better! Until know, I’ve just referred to it as motor mouth know it all syndrome. Blessed with an eidetic memory and a penchant for reciting random facts to anyone who will listen, the child hasn’t held still since he was born. At age 2, he could recite the driver, sponsor, and car number for the entirety of Winston Cup Racing, and I think his first school psychologist put it best when she said he absorbed factual information out of the air around him by osmosis. He taught himself to read at 2 1/2. When he had to get glasses at age 3, the doctor showed him a picture eye chart. To him, the picture of a sailboat was an isosceles triangle sitting on top of a trapezoid. After picking his jaw up off the floor, the doctor simply said “Well, I guess we can move to the adult chart now can’t we?”
    We knew he was smart, and weird, but I grew up in a family of smart, weird kids and he just reminded us of my youngest brother. The Asperger’s diagnosis came almost by accident. When he was 5, his 2 year old sister was diagnosed with classic autism. In my search for information, I came across an online group of parents and adults on the spectrum. Introduced to a Syndrome I had never heard of, my first thought was “Oh wow, you’re describing my youngest brother!” My second thought was “Now I know why my son reminds me so much of him”. Officially diagnosed with Asperger’s at 6, a second diagnosis of early-onset, rapid cycling Bipolar Disorder soon followed. My daughter was also diagnosed with the same Bipolar when she was 6. Through my research, I learned that both autism and bipolar run in my family, though usually not together. I guess we just got lucky, huh? Yes, that was sarcasm….
    Actually, we did get lucky. We have a pediatrician who doesn’t slap an ADHD diagnosis on every kid who can’t sit still, and actually took the time to watch my kids, then sent them to see another doctor in the practice — who specialized in developmental disabilities. She did her fellowship at a hospital with an austim research center, making her the perfect doctor to help my kids. We also live in a community with a very active ARC, DDSO, a special needs preschool and a school district that pays attention and puts the kids before the budget.
    Now 17 and 15, my kids have dealt with a lot of challenges over the years… changing schools to find the best programs, losing their father in 2001, the fear of losing me after a breast cancer diagnosis in 2006. But with good schools and doctors and therapies; and the understanding that autism doesn’t mean there is something wrong with them, they’re both doing really well now.

  77. Sheila
    October 16, 2011 at 9:52 pm

    This is a good thing you’re doing. You are not alone, and neither are we. Keep writing!

  78. Leslie
    November 13, 2011 at 5:29 pm

    Great post, John. Thanks for doing it. Despite taking our son to a doctor to be evaluated for autism at age three, he was not diagnosed until age 16. He had previous diagnosis of ADHD, General Anxiety Disorder with some OCD, and Dyslexia. I really wish I had known earlier because when puberty hit it was bad. I home schooled him for the last two years of highschool. Our son is very angry about being diagnosed with autism, to the point that I can’t discuss it with him. He had many misconceptions about it but won’t listen when I try to talk to him about it.

  79. Victoria Gilbertson
    February 21, 2012 at 10:01 pm

    You are amazing!May God be with you as you inspire many to understand and battle this
    problem.Thanks for sharing your beautiful,inspiring story!

  1. September 30, 2011 at 6:08 am
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