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Today we’re taking a bit of a turn in our interview with Joyce Anthony. I had a line up of questions I’d asked months ago and was ready to post them, but I really felt inspired to do a little something different this time. Follow me here if you don’t mind.
Joyce is a single mom like me and has done such an amazing job of raising her son Shane on her own. Her struggles have been more than that of an ordinary single parent situation. Shane has Aspergers (among other disorders), but this is the one that sticks out most for me. It’s one close to my heart. I have a step-son that also has Aspergers and I just can’t imagine the struggles Joyce must endure on a daily basis.
For those of you that may not know what Aspergers is, it is a high-functioning form of Autism. I won’t bore you with what little information I have on the topic, but I will allow Joyce to share her story a bit as well as to discuss her next book and why she chose to write it.
Today’s topic is one you won’t want to miss, so pour yourself a nice warm cup of coffee, pull up a chair, and sit a while. It’s a long one today, but it’s a good one.
Please welcome once again Joyce Anthony, author of Storm and soon to be released Spirit of the Stallion (in Shane’s honor).
Katrina: Welcome back, Joyce. It is so great to have you here again. As I’ve said, your next book Spirit of the Stallion has just really tugged at my heart and I’d like to focus a bit on that today. First of all, could you share an excerpt of the book with the readers so they get a bit of what we’re talking about. Then we will move further into your personal experience of Aspergers.
Joyce: Certainly. This excerpt is the piece that brought forth the title.
He didn’t like being held. He had been born to a life of freedom and it ran through his veins as plentiful as blood. His thrashing and bucking did no more good than his vocalized cries to be let go. He needed his freedom. The ropes held him tight–too tight. The harder he fought, the tighter they became, choking both his body and his will. He couldn’t fight any more. Sinking to the ground, the horse lay still, no longer noticing the ropes that pulled at him. No longer caring.
A child with emotional differences like those with bipolar disorder or Asperger’s is very much like a wild stallion. Trying to get this child to become like the rest of the horses in the pasture is a daunting task at best. You have to be careful with this precious little human as the line between taming and breaking is so very thin. Tame him, and you enable him to be the most incredible being; break him, and all he is or can be is forever destroyed.
Katrina: That’s an amazing piece. A very vivid description of how an Asperger’s child could relate to a wild Stallion. There’s another excerpt you’ve shared with me about a day of Shane’s life when he was just seven and the events of that day. Share a piece of that here. (I will be posting the full extent of the excerpts for Joyce for those that are interested in reading it all. It is rather long so I didn’t want to post it all here. Click here if you’d like to see the extended version).
…Shane, who was only seven, thought she was there to replace the fired TSS worker and he took all his anger out on her. She listened calmly and did not allow him to phase her. He went outside and slammed the door.
It was still warm, so the garden hose was hooked up. Before we knew what was happening, water started pouring in through the mail slot on the door. When I went to stop Shane, he sprayed me with the hose. I got the water turned off and by the time I had gotten back into the house, he had dumped a half full bucket of blue paint over the flooded kitchen floor. The mobile therapist’s time was up, so she had to leave. Once again, I was left to deal with the situation alone.
I stood there ready to cry as I surveyed the blue paint spreading quickly with the water. I told Shane, whom true to form had calmed down once everything was out of his system, that we had to clean it up. He made the mess, so he had to help.
By now his mood had switched to mania. Within minutes, he was using the rags as skates and slip-sliding all over the floor, laughing like it was the most fun in the world.
Exasperated, I nearly did cry. Then I did the only thing that I could to keep my sanity at the moment—I joined him. We got the kitchen cleaned and headed off for a bath and bedtime. Another day over…
Katrina: I know with my step-son Ricky, he seems to be emotionally detached. Socially, he just doesn’t appear to mingle well with others. Do you find this to be true with Shane? It has to be tough on you both, I can imagine.
Joyce: We tried hockey and soccer and that also did not work. While all the kids were gathered talking or listening to instructions, Shane was in the middle of the gym walking along the lines on the court, totally tuned out to the rest of the room. He again lasted only a couple of weeks and begged me, with tears pouring down his face, not to make him go back.
He wanted nothing to do with groups. He was happy to be around adults. As I watched him outside with the neighborhood kids, I noticed that it was always our yard they gathered in. They would play. Shane would be surrounded by kids, but would be doing his own thing. Often he would wander away and the rest of the kids would continue playing. He was a loner—alone in a group as well as by himself. Even at a very young age, he seemed to realize he was not like the other kids.
Katrina: Wow…that has to be painful as a parent to watch. I’d like to hear some experiences from our readers. I know for myself, it has been very difficult for me to relate to my step-son Ricky. To be quite honest, it just doesn’t make sense to me sometimes. He is so different from my own children and it seems so difficult to connect with him or have any sort of emotional relationship with him. It does seem to be improving but I know it will take a lot more on my part. I’ll gladly take any advice any of you have to give.
I know we sort of got off subject here a bit but it just felt like something that needed to be addressed and I thank you for sharing such an intimate portion of your life. I’ll be posting the full excerpts as well as others here. You can view Joyce’s books on her site.
Now, as promised, I want to close with a few photos of Joyce’s furry family members. Enjoy!