Hello! My name is Shannon Taylor. I'm a long-time writer and editor from Minnesota surprised to find myself on an island in the Pacific Northwest with my husband, three younger children (the oldest is attending college in Chicago), and two dogs.

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So what if instead of thinking about solving your whole life, you just think about adding additional good things. One at a time. Just let your pile of good things grow.
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Winter Fun

The Road Less Traveled

I haven’t written anything for A Mom’s Year for more than a week. I’ve never had writer’s block before, but when Will got an official diagnosis of Asperger’s my words dried up. Even though we’d known for a long time that something wasn’t right with his wiring, being told that Will has autism felt like getting the wind knocked out. And because no one in this family ever does anything by half, Will also got a diagnosis of ADHD (minus the “H”).

So once again we find ourselves on the road less traveled and there’s a lot to learn about and figure out and try to understand.

Part of the figuring-out process has included working out what and how much to say about all of this—here and in regular life. The thought of making a big announcement feels odd and stilted—I mean, he’s still Will. But at the same time it’s weird for me to write about Christmas projects or chat about the weather when this is all I can think about.

My truth has always been found in books and poetry, so it was no surprise that I got my answer in an article by writer and illustrator Anne Sibley O’Brien: “We’re the myth makers, the image seekers, the story bringers. Our calling is to brave the hero journey, deep into the universe of our individual and collective unconscious, to return with the treasure that will save the kingdom: meaning.”

I don’t want to lay Will bare for all the world to see, but if my experiences as his mother can help anyone at all, then I will gladly share what I can. I have no idea what’s going to happen, but the thought of shaping all of this into something meaningful makes me feel a lot better.

And already I am feeling so many instances of God’s grace as we stumble forward on this not new but newly-defined path: in the dedication and compassion of teachers and staff at Will’s school, in the stories of friends who are parenting their own children with autism, and especially in Will himself. My Grandma Charlotte, who was a mother of eight and a grandmother and great-grandmother of many, once said, “I love all my grandchildren, but there’s something about Will.” Yes there is, and bless you for seeing that, Grandma. I see it, too.

So there you have it. The word autistic still makes me wince, but I think I can go back to talking about our regular old life and Christmas and everything that’s beautiful and wonderful about this time of year.

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  1. Kristin says:

    Shannon, you hit the nail on the head: he’s still Will! And he’s awfully lucky to have you two for parents, because you will see the silver lining and doggedly learn how to meet the challenges. Thanks for posting. Your family will be in my prayers, especially as you decide how to talk about it.

  2. Shannon says:

    Thank you, Kristin. I’m already feeling more peaceful because now we know what we’re dealing with instead of just speculating. There’s lots of hope out there.

  3. Stephanie says:

    I only know you through your blog, but you seem to be a very strong, close and loving family and I’ve no doubt you’ll all successfully face this challenge together. Will is such a handsome, happy little boy in that photo! A true treasure.

  4. Shannon says:

    Stephanie, that is so kind of you to say. Will truly is a treasure, and those big blue eyes and lopsided dimple of his will, I’m sure, help him a lot through all of this. ;-)

  5. Shannon says:

    By the way, the photo is from Lily’s birthday luncheon at the American Girl store. You’d never know from the photo how much Will was suffering from having to be there!

  6. Judy says:

    Shan; Will has always been one of my favorite kids, moreso now than ever. I’ll take him, Aspergers and all!!

  7. Denise says:

    Hi Shannon,

    My son Carter also has Aspergers. We also knew something was off with him and got many diagnosis that didn’t make any sense. This was the first one I knew was correct. The way I look at it is it’s a label to help me help him. I only tell him the good about Aspergers, that it makes him SO funny and SO creative. I never tell him it will hinder him in any way. I love the way his brain thinks and life with Carter is always so much fun. A person I follow on Facebook and have read his books is John Elder Robison. He is an adult that has Aspergers and wrote a few books that really helped me understand how Carter’s brain works. I wish you all the best.

  8. Jennifer says:

    Shannon, you are so wise and such a wonderful mom. I admire the way you are looking to books and poetry for guidance on this journey. Even though I don’t know him well, I knew from the way you and Tim talked about him that there was something so sweet and whimsical about Will, some qualities that made him unique and especially loveable. I know this diagnosis must be scary, but with his family’s support, Will is going to be fine. Can’t wait to see you all on Saturday. Lots of love, Jennifer

  9. Shannon says:

    Thank you, thank you for all the kind and supportive messages. I can’t tell you how much it helps to hear about other people’s experiences and to have you say such sweet things about Will. He makes me smile every time he comes in the room, and that’s saying something, isn’t it?

  10. Marilyn says:

    I’m never quite sure how to best support a blogger friend, so I guess I’ll just say that I find you, your blog and your family (through your blog) to be lovely. I continue to feel that way, and I’m glad you’re back.

  11. Shannon says:

    Thank you so much, Marilyn. I think you know exactly how to support a blogger friend. :-)

  12. Lynn says:

    I love all the things that you write about. You are truely a wonderful person. Will does have that special way about him. There is something about Will that when you see him, you just have to smile and call out a Hello to him :)

  13. grampa jeff says:

    That’s cool that you remember grandma saying that, pretty smart lady. Will is so smart and curious and wonderful.

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