Discuss as:

Son, mother live and love with Asperger's

Shannon Stapleton / Reuters

13-year-old Matthew Kolen, who was diagnosed with Asperger's syndrome at age eight, hugs his mother Suzanne at their home in Long Island, New York on March 30, 2012. Matthew's diagnosis will soon be dropped in the fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders or DSM-5, the American Psychiatric Association's diagnostic reference book, to be subsumed into the broader category of autism spectrum disorder.

Shannon Stapleton / Reuters

Suzanne Kolen watches her son Matthew as he prepares to blow out candles on his 13th birthday cake at his home in Long Island on June 4, 2012.

Reuters reports — Struggling to describe her son, Suzanne Kolen of Long Island, New York, uses a friend's recent description: He's the 13-year-old boy bouncing down the road in the rain looking very much like Winnie the Pooh's friend, Tigger.

"He's a genuinely happy kid," Kolen says of her son, a bright boy who loves nature and paleontology and has never been defined by his diagnosis of Asperger's syndrome, a mild form of autism marked by social awkwardness and narrow interests that make personal relationships challenging.

Shannon Stapleton / Reuters

Matthew sits in a room inside his house after returning from school on April 16, 2012.

Shannon Stapleton / Reuters

Matthew looks into his fish tank on May 16, 2012.

Like many on the autism spectrum, Matthew finds it difficult to make eye contact. "I can't stare into someone's eyes," he says. "It just hurts."

Kolen says her son still struggles with the give and take of conversation. "It's very difficult for him to allow the other person to speak. He still tends to dominate."

But Matthew is bright, and she believes with enough practice, he will learn how to respond appropriately to social cues, even if he's "a little rough around the edges."

"My goal is to make sure that in the end, he has a place to work, earning a living and supporting himself in what he loves to do," says Kolen.

Read the full story: What's in a name?  Losing Asperger's label not such a big change

Shannon Stapleton / Reuters

Matthew, right, plays with a friend during his bar mitzvah in Melville, New York on June 16, 2012.

Shannon Stapleton / Reuters

Matthew's chore list, posted on the refrigerator at his home in Long Island, on March 30, 2012.

Shannon Stapleton / Reuters

Matthew, left, hugs his brother Russell after blowing out the candles on his 13th birthday cake on June 4, 2012.

Shannon Stapleton / Reuters

Matthew practices Taekwondo in Long Island on April 16, 2012.

Shannon Stapleton / Reuters

Matthew eats breakfast as his medication sits nearby at his house in Long Island on March 30, 2012.

Shannon Stapleton / Reuters

Matthew laughs as his brother Russell plays before leaving for school on March 30, 2012.