Raw Literature: Asperger’s, Voice and the Search for Identity

Written by Charli Mills

Charli Mills, a born buckaroo, makes literary art accessible at CarrotRanch.com. She writes about the veteran spouse experience and women forgotten to history.

March 6, 2018

By Sherri Matthews

The first few pages of the children’s book, ‘Are you my Mother?’, both captivated and troubled me as a girl. The story tells of a baby bird who hatches while his mother is away from the nest looking for food.  The hatchling flies the nest to look for her, but he has no idea what either he nor his mother, looks like.  He asks everything from a kitten to a boat, ‘Are you my mother?’, but to no avail.  Then he starts to cry.

Thankfully, unlike the baby bird, I didn’t have to search for my mother. But I questioned my identity when, after my parent’s divorced and I no longer lived with my dad,  I was told to use my stepfather’s surname. In 1970’s Britain, I was the only one of my friends from a so-called broken home; I understood it was to save face, but I didn’t like it.

At sixteen I determinedly and proudly took back my family birth name.

A year later, married to an American and living in California as a ‘Resident Alien’, I embraced my new home as ‘mom’ to my children and nurtured my family’s cultural split personality. I reminded them often of the great gift they held as dual American and British citizens.

Their father, however, came from a family who vehemently disputed their roots, albeit good humour.  Mostly.  Some said Greek, others Spanish and Mexican. Their family arguments baffled me; they were all born and bred in America, so didn’t that make them, well, American?  But the family discussions rumbled on for decades, with no resolve.

It made me think more deeply about my British heritage.  My paternal grandmother was Irish, but I never laid any claim to being remotely Irish.  I have no family there (Nana died when I was six) and have never been there (but would love to). So far as I was concerned, I was born in England, grew up in England, so I’m English, right?

Then my youngest recently took a DNA test and surprised us all.  Spanish and English was no surprise, but there was no Greek or Mexican.  There was, however, a high percentage of Native American (father’s side) and Norwegian (my side).  The results raised more questions than it answered, but at least I now know why I’ve always wanted to visit the fjords.

But for my youngest, diagnosed seven years ago at eighteen with Asperger’s Syndrome (high functioning Autistic Spectrum Disorder), the search for identity has nothing to do with DNA or citizenship. It is a constant and acute awareness of being different from the world around you no matter what you look like or call yourself or where you live.

My Aspie describes it like, ‘Living in a town where everyone speaks a different language and you can’t understand what they’re saying.’  The unremitting internal reminder of feeling like an alien takes an exhausting toll, which leads to anxiety, depression and eventual social avoidance.

When I started my blog in 2013, I didn’t think it would be much more than an online diary about my writing progress to publication, but I hadn’t been blogging more than a few months when, out of a growing passion to better express what family life is really like for and with an Aspie, I wrote a post about it.

I had barely fifty followers and a few ‘likes’ when I wrote The Love of Animals and Asperger’s Syndrome, but five years on, this post receives almost daily visits, more than any other post I’ve written since.  I am moved by the stories other Aspies share with me about the way their pets bring comfort and unconditional love to their otherwise hostile world.

Another post followed at a time when I battled for professional support for my child. My Aspie had slipped through the cracks at school, and in that post, I challenged the silence, acknowledging my long-simmering pain and yes, anger, at my child’s apparent invisibility.  I wanted to reveal the beautiful, creative, kind and wise, astute and intelligent soul hiding behind the mask of Asperger’s.


Writing, The Voice of Asperger’s Syndrome emerged out of my ever-increasing need to shout, ‘Hey world, this is what my Aspie goes through every day!’ But coming from my private, and until then silent, place of powerlessness in my perceived inability to help my Aspie, I realised I was subconsciously pleading, ‘I need help too!’ And what I didn’t expect was the way writing those posts also helped me.

Crushing isolation and loneliness often define the life of an Aspie, but as a mother and a carer who thought my voice was just a drop in the crash of a wave, I found a ‘me too’ connection that acknowledged my loneliness too.  I found a community that said you and your Aspie are not alone.

Are you my Mother’ ended well: the baby bird and his mother had a joyful reunion, and I smiled with relief.  I have great hope that my Aspie will one day find an answer in the search and find joy and relief within.  Perhaps it really is possible to live happily ever after, whether in or out of the nest.


Sherri Matthews is a memoir writer from England who enjoys walking and photography. Her writing has appeared in magazines, anthologies, and online. She has worked in both the medical and legal fields in the UK and California, where she lived for 17 years raising her three children. Chasing her writing dream throughout, she began her writing career in earnest from home while caring for her youngest, diagnosed with Asperger’s. Since then, Sherri has been published in a variety of magazines, anthologies and company websites. Today, she lives with her husband in the West Country of England where she keeps out of trouble writing her memoir, blogging, walking and taking endless photographs. Her garden robin muse visits regularly.

Memoir Blurb


Amazon US (Heart Whispers)

Amazon UK (Heart Whispers)

Amazon US (Slices of Life)

Amazon UK (Slices of Life)




Blogging at: A View From My Summerhouse


Raw Literature posts as an ongoing conversation about those first works we create as writers, as literary artists. Guest Authors share personal insights on their craft, its process, the experience of creating raw literature and what they do with it. Carrot Ranch is a dynamic literary community that creates raw literature weekly in the form of flash fiction (99-word stories). If you have an essay idea, pitch to Charli Mills, Lead Buckaroo, at wordsforpeople@gmail.com.


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  1. Ritu

    A fascinating post by Sherri about her heritage, so touching…

    • Sherri Matthews

      Thank you so much Ritu.

  2. Charli Mills

    Sherri, thank you for sharing your journey. As a memoir writer, I always see you digging into the soil of life like an attentive gardener. Like Ritu says, fascinating about what your heritage revealed! You need to go visit my daughter who is hanging out in your ancestors’ fjords! But I find it true that our DNA calls to us — I grew up thinking I was Portuguese (same family argument as your California family and we were Californian, too so go figure). Turns out I’m Iris and Scots. I always had a thing for the British Isles, so somehow my blood knew. Great tie in to “Are You My Mother”! Love that book!

    • Sherri Matthews

      I feel like I’m always digging – no wonder my back aches! Ahh…but seriously, thank you so much Charli for the opportunity to write about this subject, so very close to my heart. Ha, yes, the fjords do call very loud indeed! I always wanted to go to Ireland and still do, very much. I’ve tried so hard to find out more about my dad’s side of the family (German there too, we found out!) but not much to gleen. I wish my one time in-laws were still here, as I would love to discuss the DNA results with them! Yes, I remember you sharing about your Portuguese roots, that proved not to be so after all! Your true British roots do indeed call out to you, in amazing ways 🙂 I wasn’t sure if anyone would know of that book! I had it for years, but no more. Tell your daughter to book me a flight to Norway, pronto!! 😀 <3

      • Charli Mills

        I’ll book you a flight before the polar bears wake up! Ah, yes, it would be interesting to talk to your one-time inlaws, but it’s possible they don’t know. I came across documents from the 1910s that showed my great-great grandmother trying to anglicise her husband’s name after he died. He was Portuguese and she was the one who was Irish. I think she encountered prejudice and was trying to erase it. Her son, my great-grandfather was tall, blonde and green-eyed with a very Portuguese last name. He married my great-grandmother who was half Scots and half French. She had black hair and dark brown eyes, which my grandfather had and used as his claim to his Portuguese name. Funny, how we all struggle for identity in many ways. It was a big deal for me to claim my buckaroo heritage because I believed I lost it when I gave up horses for an education. We all need to make sense of our heritage in ways that empower us now, I think. Great essay, Sherri!

      • Sherri Matthews

        Yikes…yes, don’t want to disturb those beauties! Although to see one in the wild would be absolutely magical, I adore them! How fascinating reading about your heritage. I agree, it is so important to make sense of it. My kids were all amazed at the results of the DNA test and I want to take mine now! The whole Spanish/Mexican/Greek debate sounds so similar to your grandfather’s Portuguese claim. Both my in-laws were olive complected with brown eyes and dark brown (fil) and black (mil) hair. But my fil’s father was tall with blonde hair and green eyes too! I doubt they did know, going by what they were told. As with my dad’s side of the family, there has been talk for a generation that his family name, my maiden name naturally, originally came from Germany, but was changed when they emigrated from Russia, as was suggested, to the UK. Reminds me of your great-great grandmother wanting to anglisice her husband’s name. I would love to talk to you all day about it all! Thanks again Charli for lending me your space to share my heart about something I am passionate about. BTW, my fil grew up in Mexico (hence his at the time thinking that he was Mexican), but when he was 18, he found his birth certificate only to discover he was born in Texas, and so an American citizen! He promptly signed up for the Army, served for a few years and then settled in CA. And the rest, as they say, is history! 😉 <3

      • Charli Mills

        Oh, yes the American border families! It happens up in North Idaho, too. They cross the borders with dual citizenship. So naturally your FIL would have thought he was Mexican. Take the test!

      • Sherri Matthews

        How interesting! And yes, I must and I will!! <3

    • Sherri Matthews

      Always meant to go to Norway I meant…and then Ireland! Ha…if I thought the fjords were in Ireland, I would really be confused!

      • Charli Mills

        Ha, ha! I think there was much DNA swapping between the green coasts of Ireland and the fjords anyhow!

      • Sherri Matthews

        Ha…very true! Irish and Viking blood for a good mix makes!!! 😀 I need to visit both places and soon!

  3. Nidhi

    Excellent share!!!

    • Charli Mills

      Thanks for reading, Nidhi!

      • Nidhi

        ????its my pleasure

    • Sherri Matthews

      Thank you so much for reading Nidhi!

      • Nidhi

        It’s my pleasure????

  4. cindy knoke

    “Writing, The Voice of Asperger’s Syndrome emerged out of my ever-increasing need to shout, ‘Hey world, this is what my Aspie goes through every day!’ But coming from my private, and until then silent, place of powerlessness in my perceived inability to help my Aspie, I realised I was subconsciously pleading, ‘I need help too!’ And what I didn’t expect was the way writing those posts also helped me.”
    How completely wonderful!

    • Charli Mills

      That passage struck me as well, Cindy.

    • Sherri Matthews

      Thank you so much Cindy…humbled to read your response, honoured to have the opportunity to share these thoughts out loud…

    • nothingtopuzzle

      As the mother of an autistic child myself, this is the same section of this post that leapt out to me too! I really enjoyed reading this whole blog post though Sherri and actually I have several things in common with you beyond having an ASD child. ????

  5. TanGental

    Oh so lovely a post and how some just click out there and keep on collecting hits moons after they are written. Be fun to see which ones bite in that way (*adds to to do list…)

    • Sherri Matthews

      Thanking you Geoff. Yes, and the only reason I know about that post is the occasional time I look at my stats (which is rarely these days, and usually in error lol), I can’t help but notice that it is there, at the top, every time. A reminder of the breath that ebbs and flows from our blogs as a living thing…your mention of moons inspired me 😉

    • Charli Mills

      It’s a great example of WOM — word of mouth. You write something authentic and it gets to the right audience it gets shared. It is powerful when you can figure out what your audience wants to read.

    • Sherri Matthews

      Thank you greatly!

    • Sherri Matthews

      Thank you so much!

      • jenanita01

        You are most welcome!

  6. Annecdotist

    A fine piece, Sherri. There are so many aspects to identity, making it a great subject for writers. So many sides to absent mothers also; I’m still reeling from the story of that little bird!

    • Sherri Matthews

      Thank you so much Anne, and I agree. One could go so deep with the subject of identity. Ha…yes, great point about absent mothers! I will never forget that particular book…

    • Charli Mills

      Identity does seem to be one of the great human themes. In some ways, I think that is what America is struggling with — an identity crisis. And yes, that plaintive cry, “Are you my mother?” always got to me, but I loved the happy ending.

      • Sherri Matthews

        Thank goodness for that happy ending! Great point Charli…I had ideas to title this post ‘Mistaken Identity’ then ‘Identity Crisis’! So much could be written on this subject…and as with America, here in the UK as we barrel into Brexit and its consequences, I wonder too about our identity, and how we will be able to reconcile who we really are as a nation when that axe finally falls… 🙁

  7. ksbeth

    i love your writing and glad you found your comfort zone )

    • Sherri Matthews

      Thank you kindly Beth 🙂

    • Charli Mills

      Sharing has a beautiful style of writing that invites us readers in.

      • Sherri Matthews

        Aww Charli…I’m honoured…

  8. Sherri Matthews

    Reblogged this on A View From My Summerhouse and commented:
    My guest post features at Carrot Ranch today. I’m honoured for the opportunity to write about a subject close to my heart and share my passion for increasing awareness of the impact of Asperger’s on Aspie’s and their families, in the hopes of a better understanding. Thank you so much for reading.

    • Charli Mills

      Thank you for sharing your passion and compassion at the Ranch!

      • Sherri Matthews

        Thank YOU for the opportunity to do so Charli…means a great deal to me <3

      • Charli Mills

        Look at all the wonderful discussions you have going and the gratitude for sharing your story. <3

  9. Jules

    Each of us has different abilities. I had to fight for both of my children in different ways. In the states (a teacher friend of mine told me about…) there is (at least in my state) A Parents Guide or Handbook available when dealing with the public school system. And I had to use it to get my children the aide they needed. It does seem though that it is those with greater need on both the high and low ends of the scale that get preferential treatment. Those in the middle often get let to slip through the cracks.

    One has to be the best advocate for their child that they can be. Which means knowing how and when to use the rules the system allows and provides.

    I have always liked that story with the little bird… I lost my mother before I could form memories of her, and then progressed with two different step-mothers. It took me a long while to find myself – And know that I could become a great mom too. Writing also ‘saved’ me.

    Continued success in coping and writing. Let us celebrate our abilities in their unique individuality.
    Hugs ~Jules

    • Charli Mills

      Jules, you are so right — we need to be our children’s best advocate. My aunt who is a teacher has often said it is those in the middle who slip through the cracks. Each state has different rules and different cultures, too. I found that in Montana it was easy to advocate for my daughter who was a kinesthetic learner without knowing any rules — I just talked with her teachers and we came up with strategies together. It seems you struggled with losing your mother so young and having a succession of step-mothers. That makes me feel sad, but I also recognize how caring you are and that you must recognize the importance of love and compassion. Hugs, Jules! <3

      • Sherri Matthews

        Those middle ones who slip through the cracks – arrrrgh. I saw this so many times with my Aspie, despite my frequent calls to the school to ask for help. Very interesting to read abour your daughter being a kinesthetic learner Charli. Aspie is too! The school did at least find that out in the last year of high school, and it helped greatly. I just wish this could have been identified long before, as a recognised different style of learning would have made all the difference. Nobody talked to me about it, they just sent a letter home telling me that this is what was now going to happen. A brief chat at parent teacher conference, that was it, and always I was told that there was nothing to worry about. But then my Aspie used to beg me not to call the school, as it made things worse as I was told. A bad, bad time…but that’s another story. I am glad your experience was better!

    • Sherri Matthews

      So very true Jules, embracing our differences and by default finding our unique strengths and talents, is vital. Advocating for those of our children who so easily slip through the cracks is essential. When we moved from CA to the UK, my two youngest, 11 and 15, went cold turkey from an American to a British educational system. My son at 15 handled his way through relatively well, but my Aspie struggled. Not diagnosed with ASD until 18 made things even worse. It took me a year just to get the referral from our doctor for assessment for Asperger’s, as he kept saying that it would have been done at school. But that was precisecly my point; nobody took the time to really look at my Aspie’s difficulties because there was on serious ‘acting out’. Several years of ‘battle’ ensued through a mental health system that since then, I believe, has improved, but is desperately under-funded. However, things are better for us now than then. But there has been a huge push here, thanks to campaigns run by the National Autistic Society, to raise awareness across the board – including doctors, teachers and the police – of signs to look out for in those on the spectrum so they can offer better support, understanding and if necessary, faster referral.
      And I am so sorry for your loss of your mother so young. That can’t have been easy with two step-mothers. I had a step-mother too, but I didn’t live with her. I am so glad that you have found healing and yourself through writing. Thank you so much for sharing your experiences Jules and for your hugs..hugs right back <3

      • Jules

        There was a big push here to treat all Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorders with med. There are several levels as with any altered state of mind. Some teachers just want a classroom where they can teach without disturbance. But forget that curiosity actually can help. Adults with ADHD often find creative ways to cope as long as they have a good support system, and often without drugs.

        Drugs are very important in some cases to help balance a bodies needs. But to be constantly pushed down ones throat when not needed just for convenience isn’t good medicine in my book. Our family has had some experience with that. Almost to the point where I am not as trusting of the medical profession as I once was. One must attended all medical needs with education first, and then perhaps with medication.

      • Sherri Matthews

        Agreed…and great point about curiosity. Not good to stamp it down. Thanks so much for adding your story and experiences Jules, I am sorry though you have had to battle the system over the years… hugs.

  10. LucciaGray

    A really interesting post. It was inspiring to read about your experience of belonging. I believe that we’re all a mixture of ethnnicities, some we may only suspect…

    • Charli Mills

      I’m so fascinated by the DNA tests we can now do for genealogy, and I’ve heard many surprising stories.

    • Sherri Matthews

      Yes, I think we all could have a few DNA surprises hiding away! Thank you so much Luccia…

  11. anotherday2paradise

    A lovely post, Sherri. I’m so glad the baby bird story had a happy ending. I feel so fortunate to have had both my parents for such a long time. Hugs to both you and your daughter, Sherri. xx

    • Sherri Matthews

      Hi Sylvia, thank you so much for reading over at the Ranch and your lovely comment. Big smiles for the baby bird! Yes, a very great blessing of your parents indeed. Hugs back to you my friend 🙂 xxx

  12. Annika Perry

    Sherri, wonderfully written and with such heartfelt and raw emotions … I feel so for you and your child! The loneliness must have seemed never ending and whilst you have some comfort in sharing and meeting others through your blog I hope your child finds such support and comfort.

    I had to smile at the tinge if Norwegian in you … how fascinating to learn about one’s heritage and I love how you start and end with the book ‘Are You My Mother’ … I had a book with the same title as a child in Sweden, black and white photos, but I particularly loved it since the lost bird was called ‘Annika’!

    It’s been a crazy busy few months for me but downtime and chance to catch up in a couple of weeks when I’m in Sweden over Easter. Love & hugs, Annika xxxxx ??

    • Sherri Matthews

      Hi Annika, thank you so much for reading at the Ranch and for your lovely comment. I look forward to catching up later on…how wonderful you will be back in your beloved Sweden very soon, I know you will have a lovely, relaxing time and hope all is well 🙂
      The loneliness for my Aspie is an every day aspect of the nature of Asperger’s because of the inherrent awareness of ‘being different’, even when we, our close family and friends, say otherwise. Our love and acceptance and support is unconditional, but the inner rage at having to battle with elements of social acceptance that seem to come more naturally to us neurotypicals, undoes the good of that when things go spiralling downward. It is complicated and hard to explain, hence my attempt at posting about it. I do really hope to be able to write more frequently about Asperger’s at some point (the memoir is my priority at the moment), so any opportunity such as Charli has given me here to share my thoughts on a subject that is so close to my heart, is so much appreciated. But there is also much to smile about – my Aspie has taught me so much, as have all my darling children. They have a habit of doing that, don’t they?! 😉
      Ha…how cute your little bird shared your name, I can well imagine how much you enjoyed your version!
      And yes, I did think of you with the Norwegian connection! A tiny Swedish too I think. Viking blood there is!
      Love & hugs back to you Annika…be in touch very soon! <3

  13. Jill Weatherholt

    Beautiful post, Sherri! Growing up, ‘Are You My Mother’ was a favorite book of mine. You’re a wonderful momma bird to your little chicks! Hugs from me and DFD! <3

    • Sherri Matthews

      Hi Jill! It seems ‘Are You My Mother’ was a popular book with a few of us! Thank you so much for reading and your lovely comment…I am a very happy momma bird this weekend with all my chicks back in the nest 🙂 Hugs back to you and DFD as always 🙂 <3

  14. Norah

    Lovely post, Sherri, and wonderful to hear how you advocate for your daughter and share your experiences so the rest of us can better understand. I’m not surprised that your post continues to receive hits. People want help, and others want to understand. Tonight I read a post on Autism Kids on Tour about the teacher that didn’t understand. https://autismkidsontour.com/2018/03/07/the-teacher-that-didnt-understand/ It broke my heart. We do need more information like this to help us come to a real understanding, acceptance, and appreciation for each other and our uniqueness. It’s funny the way you described your daughter’s “constant and acute awareness of being different from the world around you no matter what you look like or call yourself or where you live”. I know those feelings of being alien well. There is nothing pleasant in them. They are feelings experienced by many, but often only temporarily. To feel them constantly would be a huge drain on internal resources.
    Your reflective and engaging post is an indication of how interesting a read your memoir will be – still waiting. 🙂

    • Sherri Matthews

      Oh Norah, I just read the post from your link (thank you) and commented there. It broke my heart too, because this is exactly what school was like for my Aspie. But the teachers never once told me there was a problem that needed further intervention. Other than discovering kinesthetic learning as the better way in the last year of high school (which helped greatly), there was no other support. Just a moody teenage girl who liked to dress up like a ‘goth’ outside school, never raised her hand in class, hated PE, yet was always a concientous (my bad spelling, sorry!) student and worked hard. A small classroom or even better private tutoring one to one, would have been so much better, and I know you are a huge advocate for individual attention and the love of learning in place of being ‘told’ by a teacher standing up in front of a classroom over-filled with uninterested and bored children. This is where the needs of an Aspie can be so much better met, if only more personal attention could be given and more training for teachers is desperately needed. So much harm is done; my Aspie still talks of school as something akin to hell. I honestly don’t know how we got through it. Better days now, and one day at a time… Arrgh, yes, I too feel as if I have struggled with feeling like an alien most of my life, and I sorry you know that feeling too my friend. Magnified for an Aspie, it is a utterly exhausting. Thank you so much for your encouraging and indepth comment Norah, and for your, as always, undying support of my memoir! I keep seeing this around the place: #amwriting. You know I’m not at all au fait with Twitter, but I gather that is what I can say I am doing if I were to tweet my memoir status! Hope you don’t have to wait too long…! 🙂

      • Norah

        Thank you for following the link to the article I shared with you, Sherri. I think you Mums need to keep pushing your message out there so that more of us can understand what it’s like for you and your children.
        School = hell. I get that. 🙁
        Yes, you can use the #amwriting to indicate you are a writer. I hope I don’t have to wait too long too! 🙂

      • Sherri Matthews

        Thank you Norah…I hope to try to keep getting the message out as best I can. And me too… #amwriting!!!!!! 🙂 <3

  15. Jennie

    Wonderful, wonderful!

    • Sherri Matthews

      Thank you greatly Jennie!

      • Jennie

        You’re welcome, Sherri!

  16. insearchofitall

    What a beautiful. heartfelt post, Sherri! I think we need more information out here about what it’s like for the person struggling with Asperger’s and the family taking up the challenge of helping them slog through a world that just doesn’t know how to deal with their needs and doesn’t care to recognize them. I see a lot of people that are older and are quite likely undiagnosed struggling with living in a world hardened to their special needs. It makes me angry a bit and I’m not even their parent. My daughter and I had a DNA test done as well and were both slightly surprised at the outcome. You bring up a lot of questions here that will make me think throughout my day. Keep writing about this. We need more information to help the rest of us understand and help. You are so good at it and I’ve missed you.

    • Sherri Matthews

      Hi Marlene, how lovely to see you here at the Ranch, thank you so much for sharing your thoughts and your encouragement to keep writing about Asperger’s. It is a subject I am passionate about because like you, it is the way that Aspies struggle without much understanding from others that pains me and I want to try to find a way to help, in the tiniest way. It is not uncommon for Aspies to be diagnosed later in life, females in particular. Classic ‘falling through the cracks’. I really do want to write more in the days ahead (memoir still being worked on as we speak, but after that hopefully…) and meanwhile, I am so grateful to Charli for giving me this chance to share my heart. Most of my Aspie posts were written in my early blogging years. Ha…that DNA test is something else and brings a few of us some surprises! I’ve missed you too my friend…I am planning a blog catch up later next week and I ‘ll see you then. Squishy hugs 🙂 xoxo

  17. robbiesinspiration

    My son suffers from post traumatic stress syndrome and chronic OCD. I understand all of these anxieties and frustrations very well indeed. If you can bring out the best in these children they do so well.

    • Sherri Matthews

      Hi Robbie, thank you for your comment. I am sorry that your son suffers in such ways and that we share such similar challenges. My Aspie is a creative in art and writing and runs a few role playing blogs. Severe depression stopped all that for a while, but very recently is making a hesitant return. Finding and encouraging those ‘best’ parts is vital, absolutely. I wish you and your son nothing but the best as you navigate through the every day…

    • Charli Mills

      You Moms do so well to understand what your children’s needs are, and you discover how to take care of yours, too. <3

  18. Rebecca Glaessner

    I was only just diagnosed at 24 (last year), a year after our oldest was diagnosed (at 4), and it helped put all the pieces together (after a childhood of feeling detached and socially inept, resulting in depression). You’ve described the experience well, it’s like being an alien in a place that always speaks a different language. It’s very much like that, all the time, but mostly when there are people you’re expected to interact with (I enjoyed my trek through the airport system on my own for the first time last weekend, no matter how busy, it was a new world and strangers don’t expect you to strike up perfect conversations, they leave you in peace). Otherwise, I can imagine your daughter finds great beauty in the world too, and comfort in that passion and in those closest to her. Your love and support will carry her through all her challenges and she’ll only grow stronger. Thank you for sharing this Sherri, awareness for all manifestations of autism is still a great need, but I do see the availability of information and experiences growing, every day. There’s so much hope.

    • Sherri Matthews

      Hi Rebecca, and thank you so much for sharing your hope-filled message. Yes, there is definitely a growing understanding out there which is great news, but it’s those moments when I feel so overwhelmed as my Aspie’s mum, carer and advocate that I feel compelled to want to try to explain better to those who closely interact (and a great point you make, it is worse with those closest and the expectation is greatest!). Your encouragement spurs me on to keep pushing through and focus on the very great joy of the life I share with my Aspie and our family and all my Aspie brings to each of us, a beautiful spirit I am so proud to know and love so much and who I long will indeed grow stronger every day. You are the same age as my Aspie 🙂 I am so glad that your diagnosis (and it is not uncommon to come later for aspies,particularly females as I’ve come to understand) helped you understand your childhood feelings and resulting depression. And I hope so much that your oldest finds all the necessary support throughout school, equipped for life beyond. I nodded furiously in agreement reading your experience at the airport – and so proud of you! – because my Aspie has told me and others exactly the same thing. We visited LA five years ago, just the two of us. Some asked me how my Aspie coped in loud, noisy places while suffering from sensory overload in different confines – gatherings with extended family are one! But as you say, in that environment, you are left alone and that is so freeing. No expectations, no need for small talk, nobody knows you. There is a lot to be said for that new world isn’t there?! Keeping the hope alive…and I wish and your family so much joy and hope in the years ahead 🙂

      • Rebecca Glaessner

        Yes! I enjoyed the busy airport, and most brand new experiences, but just the other day with my own three children, any sound felt like it was just too much, and it was all because I’d lost a pair of our oldest’s shorts for school (I have routines for housework so things like this don’t happen!) and my mind was stuck on that so every time my little ones kept trying to talk to me, it was utterly overwhelming. But they’re super understanding, so I asked for space and quiet and explained why, and they all helped really well with the bedtime routine, they warm my heart (they’re only 5, 4 and 3). Our oldest only just started school this year, and she has had a fantastic start already, but I do feel that ache too, wanting to explain to everyone and urge them to give her the benefit of the doubt, but then I have my own hurdles to overcome with talking to other parents, when my child’s comfort in school is at stake if it goes badly (scariest thing ever). Thank you for your kind words too! I sense that you have a fantastic relationship with your aspie, you understand the experience really well and I wish you and your family all the love and happiness you can find in this world.

      • Sherri Matthews

        Hi again Rebecca, and apologies for my late reply after taking a few days off for a family weekend. You have a busy and full family life with three little ones, and I think you are truly amazing how you manage your and your children’s daily lives. I am so heartened to hear that your eldest is off to a flying start at school, and long may it continue, and also that it won’t feel quite so scary for you as time goes on with the other parents, once you find that safe balance and understanding. I so wish my Aspie had received proper help as a child at school, but there it is. Thank you so much for your lovely kind message, and I wish you and your beautiful family every good thing…the love you have for your family shines through your every word 🙂

    • Charli Mills

      Rebecca, I’m so glad you could share your experiences with Sherri and expand the circle of understanding! I’m also glad you both take to writing as a way to thrive. Thank you both!

  19. Norah

    Reblogged this on Norah Colvin and commented:
    I’ve been reading a lot of posts about Asperger’s Syndrome and Autism lately. It’s a topic about which I need to increase my understanding. If you’re like me, you will find this post by Sherri Matthews helpful.

    • Charli Mills

      Thank you for sharing, Norah!

      • Norah

        My pleasure, Charli.

      • Sherri Matthews

        Thank you so much for the reblog Norah!

  20. Patrick Dykie

    Thank you for a wonderful post. My son was diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome in middle school. It was brought to are attention when we were informed our son sat at at lunch, alone at a corner table everyday. What was sad is that he didn’t seem to mind. It’s been a long hard road over the past eight years, but he is graduating from college this year, and has been accepted to medical school. Aspergers is a trade off, of not having social skills, but it often makes you brilliant, caring, and very special. I wish all the parents who have these rare and special people; only the best.

    • Charli Mills

      Thank you for sharing your inspiring story about your son, and your experience as a parent. May he do well, serving others in his field.

    • Sherri Matthews

      Hi Patrick, thank you so much for reading and leaving your wonderfully encouraging and inspiring message. What a powerful story you share. I did tear up though reading about your son eating lunch alone every day. I experienced similar with my Aspie at certain times throughout school, and it was a shock to learn later on that it was out of choice. Although friends did seem to want to play and give invitations so sleep overs, parties, etc, my Aspie had to be pursuaded to go and often asked to come home early, or beg me not to go at all. But at home, my Aspie was as happy as could be. I wish you and your son all the very best and every success as he navigates medical school, knowing he has your support and love behind him all the way 🙂

      • Patrick Dykie

        Thank you for a wonderful reply.

      • Sherri Matthews

        You are very welcome Patrick.

  21. Dayne Sislen, Children's Book Illustrator

    “My Aspie had slipped through the cracks at school, and in that post, I challenged the silence, acknowledging my long-simmering pain and yes, anger, at my child’s apparent invisibility. I wanted to reveal the beautiful, creative, kind and wise, astute and intelligent soul hiding behind the mask of Asperger’s.”

    This is perfectly expressed. My grandson was diagnosed with Aspergers two year ago. It has been a constant struggle for my daughter to find support and help for her son. So much talent and creativity not acknowledged by society or the school system.

    • Sherri Matthews

      Thank you so much for reading and sharing your story here Dayne. My heart goes out to you all. It is this aspect of Asperger’s I find the most painful and hurtful. My Aspie took a 2 year course at college in Art & Design, and by no small, miracle, completed it. But by then, at 18, it was too much and we’ve been living with the effects of that monumental meltdown ever since (7 years ago). It was through college that one of the tutors first mentioned Asperger’s, but even then it took us a year for our family doctor to acknowledge it and send a referral for diagnostic testing. Utter nightmare. All along my Aspie has felt demeaned and patronised, totally misunderstood. I thought that the diagnosis would help, but finding help afterwards proved to be a huge challenge. Things are changing slowly here in the UK, but so much more needs to be done. I hope so much that your daughter finds the support your grandson so badly needs. I wish you all nothing but the best from the bottom of my heart.

  22. thecontentedcrafter

    Adding my voice in here Sherri – just as support. I’m always glad to read anything that helps me understand anyone on the spectrum – life is hard enough for our young folk without adding in that added burden of isolation and hopelessness because your ‘difference’ isn’t acknowledged or respected. I have an in law in my family who is undiagnosed but clearly on the spectrum and he suffers constantly from feeling unwanted. Though in his late 40’s the little boy that no-one wants to play with still exists. Sending you love and thanks to Norah for sharing this post, I would have missed it otherwise.

    • Charli Mills

      Thank you for adding your voice, Paula! Oh, this grabs at my heart: “the little boy that no-one wants to play with still exists.” I hope he has people he can connect with in his life. I’m glad Norah shared this essay!

      • Sherri Matthews

        Oh Charli, me too 🙁

    • Sherri Matthews

      Hi Pauline, and thank you so much for your wonderful support, as always <3 Oh how my heart breaks for your relative, and sadly this is too common. I know from the Asperger's support group I attended for three years, for parents of adult children on the spectrum. Some had children in their thirties and forties, some themselves in their 50's and 60's had it too, and always it is the loneliness and isolation that pours out. It is just so heartbreaking. I don't understand why we can't do more in this so-called enlightened age. So kind of you to take the time to read and comment…and so kind of Norah to reblog. Love back to you Pauline xxx

  23. Lilka Finley Raphael

    Hello Sherri! We are once again on parallel paths.

    I’ve not been on WordPress like I should because I am trying to meet a deadline for a memoir about raising Landon and my spiritual and emotional journey thereof.

    So glad to see this and read as usual. Wonderful as always. Blessings to you!

    • Sherri Matthews

      Hi Lilka, oh how wonderful to hear from you, long time no blog my friend! I have missed you, and I have been away from blogging myself still working on my memoir (yes, 4 years and counting!) and have had to take long gaps and still not finished. Do keep me posted about you rmemoir, I know it will be a powerful and beautiful read. I hope things are well with you and your lovely family…always the challenges, I’m sure! Wonderful to hear from you, blessings to you too Lilka! <3

      • Lilka Finley Raphael

        Sherri, four years isn’t long at all. It is the experiences within that make us who we are. I have been off the WordPress more than I’d like but I prayed for a job writing/editing so I don’t dare complain! Continue pushing along (as I tell myself), its a journey not a sprint! 😉 Much peace and love to you!!

      • Sherri Matthews

        How wonderful to receive such an awesome answer to prayer Lilka – congratulations, thrilled for you! Thank you for reminding of the long haul! One day at a time…we’ll get there and much peace and love back to you along the way! 🙂

  24. Tina Frisco

    A profound and beautifully written post. I’d love to see it up on YouTube as a video ?

    • Charli Mills

      What a great suggestion, Tina!

      • Tina Frisco

        Thanks, Charli !

    • Sherri Matthews

      I’m deeply humbled Tina…honestly, as I said over at the Summerhouse (and thank you so much for reading there and here at the Ranch and for your beautiful message), I would not know where to begin on YouTube! But I am so glad for the chance to share mine and my Aspie’s story here and where I am able as time goes on <3

      • Tina Frisco

        Sher, If you’re interested, Chris Graham knows a lot about making videos ?

      • Sherri Matthews

        Thanks for the idea Tina, will give it some thought… <3

      • Tina Frisco


  25. Judith Barrow

    Wonderful, thought-provoking post. Thank you.

    • Sherri Matthews

      Thank you so much Judith.

  26. Irene Waters 19 Writer Memoirist

    Lovely post Sherri. I remember both the posts you mentioned when you first published them. You have an exceptional ability to draw us in to how it feels for both you and your aspie child and we are compelled to reach out to you and pass on your experiences. Being able to have a modicum of understanding is the best way to ensure that life will be different for children in the future that suffer that feeling of being an alien in their own society. I hope that happiness will come to your Aspie.
    See you in the fjords also Sherri.

    • Sherri Matthews

      Thank you so much Irene. I remember you commenting on those posts too, and our previous discussions about Asperger’s, and I am so very grateful for all your support and encouragement over the years. I hope the same for my Aspie too…one day forward is a day of progress. I truly hope that by sharing our story, it can make a different no matter how small. And yes…time to start walking those fjords!! <3

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