It had been a frantic morning, running around, checking hair and make-up. Being mother of the bride was hard work and it was only when Jade, her daughter, finally put on her white dress did Ellie take a breath. Ellie took a moment to think about her son, Levi, who although very smart, is different from most people. He suffers from Asperger’s Syndrome. People with Asperger’s Syndrome are exceptionally bright, but are crippled by social anxiety. This can be as extreme as refusing verbal communication, and having severe anxiety attacks. Asperger’s is a relatively new diagnosis and children with it can spend years getting diagnosed. Today though, Levi was confronting that anxiety.
Levi was also getting ready for Jade’s wedding; He had his suit and bowtie on and was looking as sharp as a tack. He was excited for Jade, and what brother wouldn’t be excited for his sister? Levi thought about all of Jade’s previous events, and felt extremely guilty. His anxiety attacks have ruined all of his family’s events; he could tell he was about to have an attack when he began to shake. But of course the anxiety of an oncoming attack added to the already about-to-break-down Levi. He’d curl up in the middle of the floor crying until his eyes were bloodshot. He sighed and hoped that he didn’t ruin Jade’s wedding, but he knew if he tried he could make her wedding something for everyone to remember, he felt he owed her that much. He straightened his bowtie, stood up and headed for the door. He paused and took a moment to think about how Jade was going with her preparations.
Ellie sat down next to Jade and held her hand. Jade had the biggest smile on her face but Ellie knew that Jade’s wedding could turn into a catastrophe. Ellie’s phone buzzed in her pocket, it was Levi informing Ellie he was ready. Ellie put her phone away and looked at Jade, Jade sighed and leaned on Ellie.
“He’s going to try something isn’t he mum?” Jade asked, hoping that maybe, just this once, things would go off without a hitch.
Ellie smiled at Jade, “You know I can’t stop him dear.”
Jade sighed. It was at times like this that Ellie reminded herself just where they had begun and just how far Levi had come…
“Come on Levi. It won’t be that hard, just do it for me,” Ellie pleaded with her son. As she turned slowly she could already see it in his tear filled eyes and knew instantly, he wasn’t having any of it. Ellie observed just how he felt, his red eyes and tear stained shirt attested to that. Although she really didn’t want to, Ellie gave in, she knew it would be easier and less stress if she did, it was always like this. With a sigh she picked up the phone and dialled Levi’s school.
“Hello, Johnston State School, Karen speaking.”
“Hi Karen, its Ellie again, I’m really sorry.”
“Is it Levi again?” Ellie could hear the cynicism in Karen’s voice.
“Yes,” Ellie hated this part, yet she had done it so many times, she should have been used to it by now. “He’s curled up on his bed wrapped up in his doona.”
“Okay. I’ll let his teacher know.” Karen sighed.
“Thank you,” Ellie mumbled before hanging up the receiver.
“Alright Levi, you can stay home today.” Levi looked up at Ellie, his eyes full of anxiety and innocence. He turned and hobbled off to his room. Ellie sighed, she knew it was going to be hard raising a son like Levi, but nothing could have prepared her for raising a child with Asperger’s Syndrome.
Ellie got up the next morning and cautiously went about her usual routine, not knowing if Levi was going to have another attack. A couple of minutes later, Levi hobbled into the kitchen yawning, but otherwise looking bright eyed and ready for anything, she was cautiously thankful for this. It was when he looked this good that he was ready to take on the world, but she also knew that things could turn on a dime. Ellie continued with her morning routine, making breakfast, packing lunch for Levi and other morning activities. She had a good feeling about today and she was right when Levi walk out of his room dressed in his uniform ready for school. Ellie was thinking of the cynicism in the office lady’s voice from yesterday as she drove Levi to school, obviously she had never had any experience with Asperger’s before. As she dropped Levi off she made sure he had everything and waved him good bye.
Ellie never liked the drive home. It was too uncertain; she could make it to the next road over or turning into the garage before she received a call asking her to come pick up Levi because he’s had an anxiety attack. She breathed a sigh of relief when she made it home. She thought back to that look he had this morning. It was one of determination; like he needed to prove himself, not only to himself, but everyone. Ellie hoped he held onto that determination, she hoped he would prove himself in years to come…
“…Mum, are we going?” Jade asked impatiently.
“Sorry, of course dear, I was a million miles away,” Ellie replied somewhat startled. Jade led the way to the car. Ellie smiled and made small talk with Jade as they were being driven to the celebration. Both Ellie and Jade knew that the reception could become a disaster, but neither of them had time to think about that as they pulled up to the church.
“When’s the food coming?” Jade complained.
“You should know; it’s your reception,” Ellie Joked. They both smiled and just soaked it all in, the wedding had gone well, Ellie thought as she watched Jade and her new son in law laugh at a joke she hadn’t heard. Levi sat on the other side next to Ellie, still looking as sharp as a tack. Ellie noticed he had a look of determination on his face; a look she hadn’t seen in years, she knew he had it in him to make Jade’s wedding special. Levi tapped Ellie on the shoulder
“Is it time mum?”
Ellie looked at Levi and Levi nodded with a smile. Ellie stood up and led Levi to the microphone.
With anxiety of her own, Ellie tapped the microphone to get everyone’s attention, then proudly introduced her son.
“This is Levi; he is my wonderful son and Jade’s brother. He has a few words he would like to say.” Ellie nodded again to Levi who then took Ellie’s place at the microphone. Ellie sat back down at the table and exchanged a nervous glance with Jade. Ellie held her breath and waited for Levi to start his speech… she almost swore she could see his hands shaking…. But then he began to talk. His voice was strong and confident, speaking volumes of his love for his sister and how proud he was for her.
It was the most beautiful speech anyone in the room had ever heard, and by the end of it, there was not a dry eye in the room. Jade sprang up from her table and gave Levi the biggest hug of his life and after a few seconds Ellie sprang up and joined them. That hug lasted for what seemed like for ever. From that moment on, Levi knew he could achieve anything.