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The Aspie Family

In the 60s television show, The Munsters, one of the running jokes was that the daughter, Marilyn, was the oddball because she was the only human in the family. While in terms of conformity (or, rather, lack thereof) we're more like the Addams Family than the Munsters, the notion of what's "normal" in our household has most definitely been turned upside down.

We are a mixed bunch from multiple angles. We're a blended family: my wife, Ninah, brought three sons into the mix while I brought a daughter with me. We're a racially mixed family: well, more accurately, I'm the token white guy that makes up our ensemble cast. We're a culturally mixed family: Ninah grew up in some pretty rough neighbourhoods in South-side Chicago, whereas I spent my childhood first in London, England, then in London, Ontario, where things were mostly white even when no snow was on the ground.

We're also a mixed family neurologically. Of the six of us, four are Aspies and two are neurotypicals. What's more, Ninah is dyslexic and dyscalculic, and our middle son has been diagnosed with ADHD.

With both parents and two of our boys on the spectrum, there is a great deal of understanding, for we talk about our Aspieness very openly and we are all constantly learning. As Stephen Shore said, "If you’ve met one person with autism, you’ve met one person with autism". Applying this to our family, the fact that there are four Aspies in the household means that there are four very different Aspies in the household. If we're not as present as we try to be, caught up in our individual Aspie selves, we can butt heads with one another. Fortunately, the aforementioned understanding mitigates any Aspie clashes.

Among those differences are also astounding correspondences. Even though we're not all related by blood and we only came together as a family in mid-2013, our middle son is a mirror of my logical self and our youngest son is a mirror of my emotional self. Ninah and I have talked about our pasts and have found, despite being decades and worlds apart, that we share many childhood responses to the NT world of our pasts: getting lost in the endless worlds of books; constantly questioning; wondering why the world, as presented to us, made little sense.

It can be a trip sometimes, but the opportunities for growth abound. Our goal is to raise our four children to be happy, fulfilled adults who will contribute to society in ways we may not yet be able to imagine.

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