Our journey into the world of autism happened a little bit later than most. My name is Rebecca Everett and my husband is Mel. Our oldest son, Bryce was 9 years old and in 3rd grade when his teacher called us in for a conference to share with us that he was having some “social challenges”. Bryce wanted to make friends so badly, the other kids found him obnoxious. After the conference, for the next week or so, ‘Asperger’s Syndrome‘ was EVERYWHERE I turned! In magazine articles, on a new show called “Parenthood”, news programs…. the list went on and on. I knew in my heart that I needed to research Asperger’s for myself. As soon as I started reading, it was incredible how much of it applied to Bryce! The more I read and the more I looked back on his toddler years, the more it made sense to me; the lining up of matchbox cars, making little ‘islands’ of cars in my living room that couldn’t be touched, the literal thinking, the meltdowns, the lack of common sense! The feeling of being a bad mommy was overwhelming! I couldn’t believe I hadn’t realized this sooner. How could his teacher see this, but I couldn’t?
Bryce was evaluated over the next few months, and finally we had a diagnosis of Asperger’s and Anxiety Disorder. He is very high functioning, so for me to not have realized his “quirks” were anything more than just quirks was understandable. He was so neat and meticulous when he would play with his matchbox cars, that when his little brother, Aydan came along (they’re 17 months apart) and matchbox cars were flying through the house like they’re supposed to, I wondered what was wrong with Aydan! Ha!
After the diagnosis, I was desperate to learn more and to meet other parents that understood what we were going through. I asked our pediatrician, my primary care physician, the psychologist that diagnosed Bryce, anybody I could think of for support group information. There was nothing in our town! So, for a couple months, Bryce and I would drive an hour away to FAU CARD to attend a KIDZ CLUB – Social Skills Group and Parent Networking. It was hard to make any ‘friends’ because there were different kids each time, and I never really connected with any of the parents. Eventually the program ended because of funding cuts.
I decided to start my own support group! I came up with a name: Puzzled Families of Indian River and designed a logo. I contacted FAU CARD to let them know what I was doing and they sent out an email to all the Indian River County families they had in their system. That was almost 2 years ago! We meet once a month, sometimes with Guest Speakers on specific topics and sometimes it’s just a social evening to vent, share, and cry. It’s so nice to have a consistent group of parents that “get it!”
Bryce is very smart and gets A’s in school. He is 12 years old now and in 6th grade. He’s very rule-oriented, so if it’s his turn to be the ‘pencil sharpener’, then nobody else is touching the sharpener that week! He enjoys reading, loves LEGOs, and plays Minecraft with his friends online. He loves Disney and all the roller coasters. We don’t participate in team sports because he is always bullied. He plays tennis and golf, both sports he can excel at his own pace. He has a great sense of humor and brings laughter to our family every day. Every puzzle piece looks and fits different, so if someone doesn’t “look” or “act” the way autism is perceived, it doesn’t mean they don’t face their own challenges every day.
- What does the Autism Spectrum look like? (mypicturedmoments.com)