The Boy Behind the Blog

2 Nov

Whoever said parenting would be easy?  I think it’s one of the hardest jobs there is…and the pay really stinks!  But in spite of all the hard work, emotional angst and exasperated frustration, we parents do receive certain rewards:  Such as when our child offers up an unprompted hug, kiss, or an “I love you, Mom!”  When our child achieves a new milestone, skill or success.   Or simply when our child displays, by word or by deed, what a truly great person he/she is.  At times like those, our parental hearts just overflow with pride and love for our offspring – wiping away all memory (at least for the moment!) of the recent ‘blow up’, when we would gladly have sold them into slavery…  Forgetaboutit!!!  All is right with the world – for the moment!  😉

Today, I am happy to share with you one of those moments – an opportunity for my son to show ‘what he is made of’ – and I get to look on, smiling proudly.  This post is dedicated to Gregory, the boy behind the blog…my muse for these scribblings and my inspiration for reaching out to other families with Aspergers in their midst.

In the video above, I interview Gregory – about this blog, about himself, about life with Aspergers and his advice for other kids with AS.  He may look fairly comfortable here, but two years ago you would never have recognized him.  He was a different child – a ball of stress, frustration and sadness, unable to be understood and very lonely.  Today, after coming to grips with the disorder and participating in various programs and therapies, Gregory is happy, out-going and really quite eloquent.

I provided Greg with the questions ahead of time, so that he could think about his answers, but these words are entirely his own.  And I couldn’t have said it better myself!  May you all see what a great person he is!


One Proud Mama

41 Responses to “The Boy Behind the Blog”

  1. Virginia November 2, 2010 at 8:57 am #

    Jo, I know this journey is not an easy one, but it is obvious that Gregory is an incredible young man. Like he said, he is calm and confident in that interview. Most kids wouldn’t do it. I am really impressed with him and all of you.

    • Joanne Houldsworth November 2, 2010 at 10:59 am #

      Thanks Virginia… I’m sure I wasn’t nearly as self-possessed at his age as Greg is. LIke I said, I’m one proud Mama! 🙂

      • Edward Thomas November 3, 2010 at 8:30 pm #

        Wow Jo, Gregory is so articulate. What a great interview!

      • Joanne Houldsworth November 3, 2010 at 8:39 pm #

        I agree, Ed! He amazed me too!

  2. Paula November 2, 2010 at 9:34 am #

    Hi Joanne and Gregory, this is a great video! Well done you two for this wonderful website, I am sure you are helping lots of people. You are so good with words Joanne!
    Your loving friend in England, Paula x

    • Joanne Houldsworth November 2, 2010 at 9:41 am #

      Thanks Paula – It is a labor of love! I am just so proud of Gregory and how far he has progressed in such a short time. He is one special person…

  3. Joanna November 2, 2010 at 9:48 am #

    Awesome! Greg is so well spoken, really funny and an inspirational person. He describes his feelings very well, and I couldn’t stop smiling either. Thanks for sharing this, Jo and Barry!

    • Joanne Houldsworth November 2, 2010 at 10:58 am #

      Thank you Joanne. I agree with you – I think Greg has a future in show biz somehow…such a ham! 😉

  4. Karin November 2, 2010 at 10:00 am #

    A great interview. It’s wonderful to hear from Greg about his interests and outlook on things. Cheers to all of you for this wonderful blog.

  5. photobyholly November 2, 2010 at 10:11 am #

    What a sweet kid! I picture my son being a LOT like this when he is 10 years old (he’s 6 1/2 right now). My son was also amazing at his school’s spelling bees last year – they had 6 bees (he competed against about 50 other kids), and he received a medal every time (3 gold, 1 silver, and 2 bronze)! It’s wonderful that Gregory is doing well, he looks so happy!

    • Joanne Houldsworth November 2, 2010 at 10:56 am #

      Thanks for sharing Holly! It is amazing what a difference a few years can make… And good luck to your son on the next spelling bee!

  6. Kara November 2, 2010 at 10:52 am #

    What a wonderful young man! It gives me great hope for my almost 9 year old Aspie. Your blog has help us more than you will ever know. THANK YOU!!

    • Joanne Houldsworth November 2, 2010 at 10:54 am #

      Kara – Thank you SO much for your comment. It means the world to us to be able to help other families… The more we share – the better for all of us!

  7. Kim November 2, 2010 at 2:34 pm #

    Hooray for the Big Cheese! I loved watching Gregory so poised and self-assured. His smarts and confidence are such a gift (as I witnessed during the spelling bee!)

  8. kelliefish13 November 3, 2010 at 5:04 pm #

    What an awesome video, well done all of you. Gregory was fantastic really confident and well spoken, which shows not only only great he is but how much love and support he is given by you and the other people in his life. Awesome

  9. Charlene November 6, 2010 at 6:27 pm #

    Gregory was fantastic … I love his interview…. He is a great kid and cannot wait to meet him again…
    LOVE YA both…

  10. wanderingwords07 November 19, 2010 at 11:51 am #

    I love how he talks with his hands so well 🙂 I’m a real ‘hand talker’ person also

  11. Kathy December 16, 2010 at 4:34 pm #


    Your post was so wonderful! My son, now 8 years old, was just diagnosed with AS. He is in such a difficult place, and I guess me too with my daughter too (single mom) and trying to just navigate and get it all ‘right.’ Seeing Gregory and his interview really is inspiring, thanks so much!

    • Joanne Houldsworth December 16, 2010 at 11:10 pm #

      Thanks for your comment Kathy. At 8 years old, Gregory was in a very difficult place too, but these past two years have made such a tremendous difference for him. Take heart! There is light showing in the tunnel… Good luck in your journey!

  12. April March 2, 2011 at 4:49 pm #

    I shared this video with my son who has a great feeling of lonliness and difference from his peers because of his unique asperger traits. I asked him what he thought after seeing it and he said it made him feel not so alone. I want to thank both of you for this, it has been really hard for him and it was nice to see him feel like he was not completely alone in these feelings. It brought a big smile to his face.

    • Joanne Houldsworth March 2, 2011 at 5:38 pm #

      April – I shared your comment with Gregory…he smiled too! (And I teared up..) We are so happy that your son found some support here. That’s the whole reason for the blog!!! Good luck with your journey.
      Joanne (and Gregory)

      • Xenia Eliassen / Aidan Arrick April 4, 2011 at 9:54 am #

        Hi Joanne and Gregory,

        I was reading from your blog to my 10yo son Aidan (whom we, his teacher and the school psychiatrist all think has Asperger’s, but it has not been officially diagnosed), and he also watched the video of Gregory above, and he would really like to be friends with Greg, if he is willing. Aidan doesn’t have many friends here (and none who understand him), so he feels very alone and lonely. Would it be possible for Greg and Aidan to be pen-pals (via email) or to chat on Skype/Gmail chat sometime? It seems from the video they share a lot of interests, and Aidan would love to talk to someone his age who actually understands what he’s going through.

        Thanks so much,
        ~Xenia and Aidan

      • Joanne Houldsworth April 4, 2011 at 10:54 pm #

        We’ve sent Aidan an email directly. Gregory is very excited to be his pen pal!

  13. Teia Lucas April 18, 2011 at 8:03 pm #

    Hi. My son is almost 11 and was just diagnosed. I have read everything I can get my hands on as far as what the web has to offer. I love your blog. I just let my son watch this video. He said “Mom hes like me”. I will continue to keep up with your blog. Thank you and keep it up!
    Teia Lucas

    • Joanne Houldsworth April 20, 2011 at 3:57 pm #

      Thanks for your kind words, Teia! I’m glad you’ve found the blog helpful. Best wishes, Joanne

  14. Robert Hickman April 22, 2011 at 2:51 pm #

    I think your son is brilliant, and I’m not just saying that ether. Much of what he has realized at 10, I did not grasp until recently, as a 20 year old.

    Is your son active on the social Internet? If not, he really should be. Record him playing the piano, get it on youtube, and you could have someone who’s Internet famous by the time he’s my age 🙂

    The way I see things leaning right now, the strength of ones second self (Internet persona basically), will be far more important than qualifications at determining employment/business opportunity. If someone has a strong second self, it is plainly obvious that they know what they are doing.

    • Joanne Houldsworth April 22, 2011 at 4:44 pm #

      Thank you so much Robert – I think he’s brilliant too!!! 🙂 And thanks for your good advice – very sage for a 20 year old! Good luck on your journey.

  15. Lena June 29, 2011 at 2:32 pm #

    Hi Joanne,

    I have a 3.5 year-old son who is going to be assessed for AS. The journey to discovery and acceptance has been a very difficult one for me. I feel so burdened and lost everytime I think about what the future holds for him and reading the facts of AS just scares me even more. I just wanted to let you know what a difference reading your blog makes for me. As I was ploughing through the internet for directions and answers to my many queries, I feel so relieved to find your blog. Thank you for all your work in putting this together- you are really good with words and at explaining! And it’s so comforting to hear from a mom, because we share the same love for our children.

    Most of all, I’m so proud of Gregory! He is so intelligent and articulate for a 10-year-old (and he even gives eye contact with his daddy behind the cam!) You’ve really done a great job guiding him. Watching him gives me so much hope and relief that I can do the same for my son too. Thank you so much, Joanne for your help and inspiration. As I write this, I am reminded of the words of St Paul in 2 Cor 12:9-

    But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.

    May our children continually rely on Him for grace and strength.

    God bless you and your family!


    • Joanne Houldsworth July 1, 2011 at 10:56 am #

      Lena – Welcome to the blog and thanks very much for your kind comments. Try to stay focused on the positive and not get overwhelmed – We’re all in this together! How wonderful for your son that you’ve been able to identify his issues so early on. With your loving guidance and various direct instruction/therapies, he has a great future ahead!

      And yes, I am so proud of Gregory too! 😀

      Good luck on your journey,

  16. Jeanna White August 16, 2011 at 11:15 am #

    Thank you so much Joanne & Gregory for recording this video! my 8 yr old daughter was diagnosed as ADHD at 4 and Autistic on, of all days, April 1, National Autism day. While her diagnosis is Autistic, shes very high functioning so more of an Aspey to me. I pushed for this diagnosis myself, a Mom just knows when something isn’t ‘right’.
    I’ve gotten so much great insight from your blog, just found it today, I’m still muddling through what to do next for her. I felt an instant connection to Gregory when he said he most likes to imagine things. My girl would be content to shake a string and tell herself a story or repeat one that she loves, like the Wizard of Oz, for instance, all day long.
    While she is just entering the 1st grade this year I can only hope that academically she’ll pick up soon, we struggled through Kindergarten this year and last as she repeated.

    Thank you again for this blog!!


    • Joanne Houldsworth August 25, 2012 at 11:19 am #

      Thank you for your feedback Jeanna. I totally agree that “A Mom just knows when something isn’t right”. Good for you to advocate for your daughter’s best interest! I would love to hear how your daughter is getting on, so please keep in touch.
      Best wishes, Joanne and Greg

  17. Heather and Jake September 13, 2011 at 1:40 pm #

    Thank you Gregory for doing this interview. My name is Heather, and my son Jake (9) was recently diagnosed. Gregory I don’t believe you realize how incredable and brave it was to post this interview. It helped me more than anything I have read, seen or done. When the time comes to tell my son Jake of his Aspergers, I will be letting him watch your video and I hope he can strive to become more like you when it comes to dealing with “life with Aspergers”. Keep reaching for your dreams, and on your life’s journey. Your mom is probably very proud, and she should be. 🙂 Peace, Heather

    • Joanne Houldsworth August 25, 2012 at 11:23 am #

      Heather – I am so pleased that the video was been helpful to you….that is the entire reason why we have the blog!!! And yes, I am extremely proud of Gregory – he is so bright and talented, but very unique at the same time. That is both a blessing and a challenge, but I am positive his future is very bright!
      Best wishes on your journey! Joanne

  18. Danielle August 25, 2012 at 9:30 am #

    Hi Joanne! I really identified with your blog and your video. We suspect our son, Jack, also has Aspergers. I say suspect because doctors are reluctant to diagnose him and do not feel we should change his special education classification from OHI to AU because of his young age (he’ll be 6 in October) and because he has some social understanding, much of which I believe is learned behavior. Jack was diagnosed with severe ADHD at 3 years-old but as I said, I suspect there’s something more going on. I would love to hear about the programs and therapies, diet, medications or otherwise that you believe have made the most impact. As a mother, I rely on other parents like you for sound advice, as we have found teachers, doctors and even advocates don’t have answers for us. I would love to tell you more about Jack because he’s incredibly bright and charming, just like your Gregory. I just wish we, and everyone else, could see more of his strengths as he is really struggling with frustration tolerance, perfection and aggressive behaviors right now. Best to you and your son! Thank you both for your inspiration.


    • Joanne Houldsworth August 25, 2012 at 11:13 am #

      Thanks for your comment, Danielle. I would love to hear more about Jack and am happy to share our experiences. Based on your brief description of Jack (bright and charming, but also perfectionist and frustration issues), he sounds a lot like Gregory…

      First of all, definitely trust your ‘mother-instinct’ that “there’s something more going on” with Jack. In my experience, professionals don’t know your child as well as you do, and therefore may unintentionally misread or misdiagnosis a situation. Having said that, I don’t think the particular special ed classification designation (ie. OHI vs AU) makes much difference, as long as Jack is receiving the services that will benefit him.

      In our case, Gregory did/does not receive many services from the school as a result of his being classified. What the formal classification did provide however, was additional attention to his needs and understanding of his issues/behaviors. His behavior was no longer viewed ‘acting out’, but as him responding to a situation he couldn’t handle. As a result, the school handled his actions very differently (i.e. not being sent to the principal for discipline, but instead being sent to the guidance counselor for some time and assistance to regroup.)

      I have written posts about some of our most effective strategies and programs (including creating ‘circles of acceptance’, ‘joke of the day’, massage therapy, wii play, transition planning, etc.), so please check them out for more details. In addition, Greg has had occupational therapy (for sensory issues), physical therapy (special adaptive gymnastics class) and lots of home-based, school-based, and clinic-based social skills training and hidden curriculum education.

      Although I have investigated both diet and medication, we have not used either. From the research that I did, for us the dietary changes seemed very drastic, expensive, time-consuming and difficult to maintain – given the lack of conclusive scientific evidence to support its benefit. Having said that, my friend with an autistic son uses diet as one of the primary modes of treatment and swears by its effectiveness, so we each have to judge for ourselves. I also opted to save medication as a ‘last resort’, because I feared the potential, known and unknown side-effects. Happily, Greg responded so well to our other approaches, that we haven’t had to revisit these options.

      Within the school setting, having a knowledgeable, supportive, accepting classroom teacher is key to success. The teacher can monitor when a child is starting to become frustrated or overwhelmed and head off a melt-down before it occurs. The teacher’s support and acceptance also allows the anxiety to disappear and learning to take place. Educating all of the teachers and staff who deal with your son (from the classroom teachers, to the gym teacher, to the nurse) about his struggles and how best to handle them, is also vital. Finally, it is also very helpful to provide a ‘safe haven’ set up in case of melt-downs, and have the guidance councilor on board to help teach/guide coping strategies. Check out my post, Help! IEP Time! for more specifics.

      Danielle, I hope this information is helpful. Let me know if you have any additional questions – and best of luck to you and Jack!


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