By Richard A. Marini
Jennifer and Herb Allen long suspected something was different with their son Sam. When he finally received the diagnosis of Asperger’s syndrome, it was, Jennifer Allen said, as if they’d been hit by a giant wave, spinning their world on its axis.
Eventually, however, they got their feet back under them, determined to help Sam find his way and excel in life.
What they didn’t count on were the disapproving looks, the bullying and how Sam would be ostracized at school, during soccer games, even at church.
“Parents told their kids they couldn’t play with Sam,” said Jennifer Allen, who left a career in broadcasting and TV production shortly after Sam’s diagnosis.
A form of high-functioning autism, Asperger’s syndrome is sometimes called “the little professor syndrome” because children exhibit advanced speech and a laserlike focus on particular interests. But they also tend to lack empathy, get frustrated easily, and exhibit poor social skills.