Story Behind The Story: All For Aaron
Some people have asked me why I wrote this book. I simply tell them, 'because of my son.' My son was born with Asperger's Syndrome. The kid is bright—scary bright. He used to correct his Kindergarten teacher, because she didn't know how to pronounce the names of dinosaurs. He had about a three-hundred page encyclopedia of dinosaur names and facts, and he'd pour over it every night since he'd learned to read at about the age of three. He used to carry a book about quantum physics with him in sixth grade, and used to tell the science teacher she didn't know the real facts about certain items…in class. Yeah. He was a toughie and still is, even though he's now in college.
Asperger's Syndrome (AS) is considered a type of high-functioning autism. Our son hated people until he got to college. He'd rather have been alone than have anyone near him. He and I get along really well, but he can't deal with the sound of his two sisters' voices. He's very sensitive to sound and smell, but has learned how to handle things that bother him.
In my story, I knew most readers wouldn't understand AS kids as much as they would autistic children. AS kids can be very verbal with people they know, almost appearing 'normal' on the pages of a book (even though they say the most outlandish things). But autistic kids are easier to portray as an outlier in a book. So I made the young child named Aaron autistic.
Having a special needs would make any marriage less stable. With our family, our son had almost no impact on our marriage, because my husband exhibits many of the same symptoms as our son. So our son was considered a lot like my husband, two peas in a pod. We didn't even know our son had 'issues' until we moved from North Carolina to Kansas, at the end of his third grade year. When we lived in North Carolina, the teachers just considered him spoiled, which wasn't true.
But our marriage could've been split. A child who behaves outside the norm can separate the parent's beliefs on parenting. That's why I made Aaron's parents separated in this story. Since there has to be a bad guy, I made Aaron's father extremely bad, wanting only to get ahead. He's like a child who wants his way, no matter who he hurts. Drew, the teacher love interest for Kelly has his head on straight. He's a man, instead of a child, with the education to take care of Aaron. He's also Kelly's key for getting out of her situation.
It was a tough story to write, because of the nature of the emotions I relived while describing Aaron. I never believed our son would be independent, would never drive, and would never have friends. But I learned that these kids can approach more of 'normal' as they get older. Our son now has his driver's license (although he refuses to drive), has many friends at college a lot like him (he's never alone and prefers that now), and is completely independent while at college. He even got a job for this next fall, all on his own. Not all children with the same affliction are as fortunate. I've heard many stories of AS adults who can't hold a job, can't drive, and avoid relationships.
When I wrote this story back in the early 2000s, I didn't believe I'd ever be at this point in time with our son, because of the stories I'd heard. But there is hope. There is a future for AS kids, even though it may not be the norm of society. I've also known a few autistic kids, too, and depending on the severity, there is hope there, too. But it certainly does stretch all beliefs in how to parent, because each of these kids is different. One just has to realize that 'normal' and goals are different for everyone.
Read the first chapter here.
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