Gary got orders in the autumn of 1995 for Fort Huachuca, Arizona with a school en route – which meant that he would be gone from October of 1995 until March of 1996, with a break for Christmas. At least he wasn’t in a war zone and we were pretty used to these separations, but it was still very difficult because of Aaron’s seizures and behaviors. I was home schooling all three of the kids, too, as well as trying to sell our house so there were some major stresses. Our church family in Leavenworth and our neighbors were awesome, though. I really didn’t want to leave there and go to the desert of Arizona – at all! But God knew what we needed.
God gave us wonderful housing on Fort Huachuca – old but wonderful because we had four bedrooms and a stunning view of the mountains in our wide open back yard. We adjusted to our new life there in this environment that was so foreign to all of us and we grew to love it. God also gave us another precious church family. I just can’t emphasize enough how meaningful it is to have the love and support of a good church family. It’s valuable for any of us, but for us with Aaron it was vital. I won’t mention names but many thanks go up to the Lord for our dear church families in the places God has put us.
And Aaron was fully into puberty. I can describe puberty for Aaron in one word – AWFUL!!!!!! I know many of you parents will shake your heads in agreement at that one. With Aaron, his seizures were increasing and we were trying all kinds of different meds in various doses. The closest military pediatric neurologist was in El Paso, Texas – a 5 hour drive away! Since Gary was the active duty sponsor, he had to be the one to take Aaron. On some days Aaron would have 7 or more seizures, hard Grand Mals as well as other kinds, and we had no doctor close by to take him to. What a nightmare!
Also, his behaviors were becoming harder and harder to understand and deal with. Discipline wasn’t working and we were all struggling. Poor Andrea and Andrew had to endure so much, I know, as they watched Aaron becoming almost impossible to live with on some days, and saw Gary and I beating our heads against the wall as we tried to deal with Aaron and with doctors. Finally, Gary requested permission from the military to be moved to a civilian pediatric neurologist in Tucson. Our request was approved and we were so happy!
On our first visit with Dr. Gray, Aaron stayed in the waiting room while I visited with the doctor alone for a few minutes. I wanted to explain Aaron to him without Aaron hearing all the negative things I had to say. Eventually, though, the nurse stuck her head in the door and asked if Aaron could join us. She said he was sitting in the corner, slowly taking apart the silk tree that was there. I had to smile. Yep, that’s my Aaron! Dr. Gray only needed a couple minutes with Aaron before he looked at me and said, “I know exactly what this is. Aaron has Asperger’s Syndrome!” The rest of the exam proved further that he was correct. I had so many questions about this syndrome that I had never even heard of. Aaron and I finally drove home, and again that night I had a good cry and some time of prayer – and then faced our future.
Our research confirmed to us that Aaron did indeed have this high functioning form of autism. In fact, in many ways he could have been the poster child for Asperger’s. It was unusual and sad that he wasn’t diagnosed until he was 14. Knowing Aaron’s diagnosis, facing it, and learning how to better deal with his issues was a huge step in the right direction for all of us. But most of our steps as the months wore on were baby steps – trying this, trying that, questioning our decisions both past and present, and wondering about the future. And our immediate future was soon to take us to Wichita, Kansas. Gary retired from the military in 1999, was offered a good job in Kansas, and so off we went to yet another unknown chapter of our lives. That story next!