Almost Unendurable Beauty

Disregarding the hope for normalcy in order to embrace the twice exceptional.

| Fall 2015

  • I wonder what jobs there are for a person with no real sense of time. Even if she means well, every minor obstacle in Jade's path holds the potential to send her skidding sideways.
    Photo by Fotolia/bergamont

The plastic prescription vial contains 30 doses. I press the cap down, twist it counterclockwise, and shake a cylindrical pill into my hand. It is an ugly gray, like dryer lint, like newly poured concrete, like a bullet. I know my daughter will notice this.

I set the pill on the kitchen table next to her glass of mango juice, then reconsider and pick it up. Better to hand it to her, make sure I see her swallow it.

“Breakfast!” I yell up the stairs for the third time. Jade is 13 years old, but getting her to the table—or to school, or to the orthodontist, or to a birthday party—still requires as much patience and persistence as it did when she was small. She has always been like this. It’s not her fault, I remind myself.

Jade wakes gradually, reluctant to let go of her dreams. This morning she has already fallen back to sleep several times. It’s Sunday, so she’ll stay in bed until the afternoon if I don’t keep trying. I enter her room, kiss her warm forehead, and try to rouse her. “Get up, go to the bathroom, get dressed,” I say, reciting the same instructions she’s heard since preschool. Ten minutes later she’s still under the covers. Each time I repeat my list, I’m a little more anxious, a little more shrill. Lots of parents go through this with teenagers, right?

Our 10-year-old, Kyle, is already up, showered, dressed, and saturating his pancakes with maple syrup. He whips through his morning routine as if trying to get to the next level in a video game. I have to wonder whether he’s hard-wired this way or if it’s because he’s lived his whole life with a slow-motion sister, and he’s just trying to reduce family tension.

My husband, Roger, is busy charting his day in our home office. He has scheduled every errand and call he’ll make today to drum up photography work. We’re all moving forward—except Jade. We can’t slow our momentum to accommodate her, but of course we do, all the time.

9/14/2015 3:40:39 PM

I'm not sure that I'm exceptional, but I have ADHD and hidden disabilities. I wish I had been diagnosed before age 40 - it would have been a great help. Taking meds for me has been a life safer. I was always active and ate well, but being organized was hell for me. I remember walking into my house shortly after I had taken my first dose of ADDERALL (I had tried other meds) and all I could think was "wow, this place is really disorganized." It allows me to see the clutter and focus on one thing at a time as opposed to fluttering from room to room doing whatever catches my eye when I enter the room. There are many solutions and I don't think meds should be vilified - they changed my life.

9/14/2015 11:30:44 AM

What a special child. In my view, there's nothing wrong with Jade -- it's our school's inability to address a different way of learning. Sounds like Jade is a very smart & creative individual. If our culture would honor and support this type of learner - children like Jade will be the next generation of innovators, visionaries and artists. I hope you will consider finding a way to honor her strengths which seem innumerable. The world has a lot to learn from children like Jade.

9/14/2015 10:11:14 AM

Please, please, please find someone with experience working with Aspergers. This beautiful, genius child will not ever process information as, "normal," people do, but will do so with an ability to create beauty and originality far beyond the boxes of, "normal." Drugs do not, "treat," Aspergers. Others in an Aspy's life have to adjust, which, not surprisingly, results in the child (or adult's) expanded ability to gain behavioral skills and understanding of conventional matters. My heart broke as I read this, hearing my own parents and bullying teachers. For me, it wasn't until my interest in music earned a college scholarship that I was able to, "prove," the worth of my, "distraction," and, "lack of focus," on math and a tidy room. Please don't torture this child any longer by forcing medication into her or refusing to allow her natural gifts to flourish.

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