HELP FOR PARENTS OF CHILDREN WITH ASPERGER'S & HIGH-FUNCTIONING AUTISM

Education and Counseling for Individuals Affected by Autism Spectrum Disorders

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Anyone out there that has an Asperger son that is obsessed with WWII?

My 8 year old son was diagnosed with autism at age 4. He displayed many of the symptoms of autism, poor social skills, tantrums, sensory problems. Now with early intervention he has blossomed. At the end of Kindergarten he was assessed again by the School Board and he no longer fit the criteria for Autism. He is now in 2nd grade and doing well. He is very smart with an IQ of 132 and a verbal IQ of 148; I got these results when I had him tested to see if he was gifted. The results were yes he is gifted. I did not tell the Dr. of his prior diagnosis of Autism, I guess I wanted to believe that the earlier diagnosis of Autism was a misdiagnosis. Now I had a staffing at school and according to the onsite psychologist he does not qualify to be in the gifted program. I was upset because I think he would fit in much better with the gifted kids. My son sounds like a walking dictionary. After reading about Asperger wow that is my son! Very high IQ, high vocabulary, obsessive interests! He is obsessed with WWII history. It is mostly all he talks about, and his conversations are all fact based about what he knows.

Please is there anyone out there that has an Asperger son that is obsessed with WWII?

I want to make sense of all this and I want to be informed so that if what he has is Asperger I can understand my son better. I also want to find a social skills group for him.

I appreciate any response. Please share your story. I want to be better informed. Thanks for taking the time to read this.

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Re: Obsessions

Obsessions and compulsive behavior are typical problems linked with Asperger Syndrome Behavior. This is often a hallmark sign of Aspergers syndrome. These children may become fixated on a narrow subject, such as the weather, compulsive cleanness, sport statistics or other narrow concern.

Aspergers kids can be explicitly taught better ways of communication with others which will lessen their focus on obsession.

Medications that control obsessive behavior can be tried to see if some of the obsessiveness reduces.

In some cases, it helps to turn your child's obsession into a passion that can be integrated into his or her own extracurricular or school activities. A consuming interest in a given subject can help connect your child to schoolwork or social activities, depending on the obsession and the behavior.

Part of the obsessiveness stems from a conflict between longings for social contact and an inability to be social in ways that attract friendships and relationships.

While it is better to teach communication skills and self esteem to the younger children, communication skills and friendship skills can be taught to teens or even adults that can eliminate some of the social isolation they feel. This can avert or reverse depression and anger symptoms as well as obsessions and compulsive behavior.

Learn as much about your child as you can and learn which things trigger compulsive behavior so they can be avoided. Some compulsive behavior is completely benign and is easily tolerated by everyone involved. As parents, you need to decide which kinds of behaviors should be just tolerated and which need intervention.

My Aspergers Child: Preventing Meltdowns and Tantrums

Aspergers Meal Plans: Gluten and Casein Free

The following food items make limited use of specialty gluten-, casein- and soy-free items like expensive flours and other substitute ingredients. Most everything can be purchased at your local grocery store and these ideas are meant so that everyone in the house can eat it rather than needing to cook two meals.

Breakfast:

• Bacon Potatoes
• Cereal with milk
• Cereal, Cream of rice
• Donuts/donut holes
• Eggs, fried, scrambled, poached
• Eggs, Scrambled with avocado
• French toast
• Fruit
• Grits
• Hash Brown Casserole
• Hash Browns
• Hash with poached eggs (corned beef or ham)
• Hominy
• Meat - ham, bacon, steak, sausage
• Muffins, Banana Coconut Flour
• Pancakes, Fabulous Banana
• Pancakes, Nut Butter
• Sausage
• Waffles

Lunch:

• Chicken and rice (arroz con pollo)
• Chicken Fries
• Chicken Nuggets, Battered
• Chicken Nuggets, Pecan-coated
• Chicken Salad
• Salad, Almost-Cobb
• Sandwiches – peanut butter and jelly, lunchmeat, chicken salad, egg salad, etc.

Snacks:

• Chex-style mix
• Chicken, Buffalo Wings
• Chicken, Teriyaki Wings
• Chips
• Deviled Eggs
• Guacamole
• Hummus
• Hummus, White Bean
• Kettle corn
• Nuts
• Popcorn
• Refried bean dip
• Salsa (Pico de Gallo)

Beverages:

• Cider, Mulled
• Cocoa, Hot (Vance’s DariFree or Almond Breeze) More about milk substitutes
• Juices, Sparkling
• Mangoade
• Smoothie, Island fruit
• Smoothie, Orange Banana
• Smoothie, Tropical blend

Main Courses—

Beef & Buffalo:

• Beef Fajitas
• Beef Shanks
• Beef Short Ribs
• Beef Stew
• Beef Stew, Red Wine with Potatoes and Green Beans
• Beef Stew, Red Wine with Potatoes and Green Beans
• Beefy Stew
• Buffalo burgers
• Chili
• Hamburgers
• Meatball and Rice soup
• Meatloaf
• Pot Roast, Holly's Florida
• Prime rib with roasted garlic and horseradish crust
• Rib Roast, Herbed
• Ropa Vieja
• Rouladen
• Shish Kebabs (beef, chicken, veggie and shrimp), Build-your-own
• Sloppy Joes, Easy
• Spaghetti and Meatballs
• Steak
• Tacos

Game:

• Venison Stew

Lamb:

• Lamb, Herb Roasted
• Lamb, Chops with Pomegranate Relish

Pork:

• Beans and rice, Louisiana Red
• Black Beans and Cumin Scented Rice, Cuban
• Ham and Apple Stacks
• Navy Bean/Split Pea Soup with Ham
• Pork chops, Stuffed
• Pork fried rice
• Pork Shoulder roast
• Pork, Pulled sandwiches
• Pork, Roast Loin with Apples
• Pozole
• Ribs, Melt in your mouth
• Roast pork loin, Simple
• Sausage, Italian with peppers and onions
• Tamales, Traditional pork

Poultry:

• Almost-Cobb salad
• Apple pecan chicken salad
• Chicken Diane
• Chicken Fajitas
• Chicken Marengo
• Chicken Noodle soup
• Chicken Nuggets, Battered
• Chicken Nuggets, Pecan-coated
• Chicken Vegetable Soup
• Chicken, Alex’s Double-coated Fried
• Chicken, and rice
• Chicken, Apricot Glazed with dried plums and sage
• Chicken, Arroz con pollo
• Chicken, BBQ
• Chicken, Citrus-garlic-ginger sauce
• Chicken, Coconut finger salad
• Chicken, Drumsticks, Apricot glazed
• Chicken, Honey Mustard kabobs
• Chicken, Lemon
• Chicken, Lemon-Pepper Thyme
• Chicken, Maple Orange Glazed breasts
• Chicken, Pulled BBQ sandwiches
• Chicken, Roasted Rosemary with Garlic Mashed Potatoes
• Chicken, Sticky Coconut
• Chicken, Stir-Fry
• Cornish Hens, Glazed
• Goose, Roasted with cherry sauce
• Shish Kebabs (beef, chicken, veggie and shrimp), Build-your-own
• Turkey & Rice Soup
• Turkey, Brined
• Turkey, Roast

Seafood:

• Salmon, Baked, maple glazed
• Salmon, Grilled
• Salmon, Poached
• Shish Kebabs (beef, chicken, veggie and shrimp), Build-your-own

Vegetarian:

• Black Bean-Chipotle chili
• Shish Kebabs (beef, chicken, veggie and shrimp), Build-your-own

Side dishes:

• Caramelized apples
• Cranberries, Best Relish
• Polenta
• Rice, Arroz Con Gandules
• Rice, Brown
• Rice, Brown, Salad with tomatoes
• Rice, White
• Rice, Wild
• Rice, Wild, stuffing with hazelnuts and dried cranberries
• Salad, Watergate
• Spring rolls
• Stuffing, World’s best cornbread
• Sweet Potatoes, Candied

Bread:

• Cornbread

Vegetables:

• Artichokes, BBQ
• Artichokes, Boiled
• Asparagus, Grilled
• Asparagus, Grilled with Meyer lemon vinaigrette
• Asparagus, steamed
• Beans
• Beans, BBQ Baked
• Beans, Black
• Beans, Mexican
• Broccoli
• Butternut squash
• Carrots
• Chard
• Collard greens
• Corn on the cob
• French fries
• Green beans with lemon and walnuts
• Hash browns
• Plantain Rounds, Double-Fried
• Potato and zucchini pancakes (latkes)
• Potato, tomato, corn and basil salad
• Potatoes, Bacon
• Potatoes, Baked
• Potatoes, Mashed
• Potatoes, Sliced baked
• Spaghetti squash with marinara
• Spinach, Sautéed
• Sweet potato casserole
• Sweet potato fries, Baked
• Sweet potatoes, Candied
• Zucchini, Fried
• Zucchini, Grilled

Dressing, Gravy & Sauces:

• 1000 Island
• Apple Balsamic Vinaigrette
• Avocado Dressing
• Basil Vinaigrette
• Blackberry Dressing
• Creole mustard dressing
• French Dressing
• Gravy, Foolproof Giblet
• Gravy, Turkey
• Honey Sesame Dressing
• Kitchen Bouquet Recipe
• Marinara Sauce
• Meyer Lemon Vinaigrette
• Sweet and Sour Dressing
• Tarragon Egg Dressing
• Vinaigrette Dressing

Soups:

• Beef Stew
• Beef Stew, Red Wine with Potatoes and Green Beans
• Beefy Stew
• Black Bean-Chipotle chili
• Chicken Noodle Soup
• Chicken Vegetable Soup
• Chicken Veggie Stew
• Chili
• Louisiana Red Beans and Rice
• Meatball and Rice soup
• Navy Bean/Split Pea Soup with Ham
• Turkey & Rice Soup
• Venison Stew

Desserts:

• Apple pecan pie
• Chocolate, Sweet dark
• Meringue Triple Stars
• No-bake pumpkin pie
• Peanut butter balls
• Peanut butter cookies
• Popcorn, Party
• Popcorn, Sweet nutty treats

Salads:

• Almost-Cobb salad
• Apple pecan chicken salad
• Chicken salad
• Chicken, Coconut finger salad
• Fancy salad
• Mushroom spinach salad with tarragon egg dressing
• Spinach Salad with Warm Bacon and Apple Cider Dressing
• Turkey & Mixed Green salad with Strawberries and Kiwi
• Watergate salad

Kids Only:

• Buffalo Burgers, Mini
• Chicken Fries
• Chicken Nuggets, Batter-dipped
• Chicken Nuggets, Pecan-coated
• Food-on-a-stick
• French Fries, Oven
• Potato Logs
• Shepard Pie, Easy
• Sweet Potatoes and Red Potatoes, Baked

Holidays—

Meats:

• Goose, Roasted with cherry sauce
• Ham
• Lamb, Chops with Pomegranate Relish
• Lamb, Herb Roasted
• Prime rib with roasted garlic and horseradish crust
• Rib Roast, Herbed
• Salmon, Poached
• Turkey, Brined
• Turkey, Roast

Sides:

• Cranberries, Best Relish
• Gravy, Foolproof Giblet
• Gravy, Turkey
• Green beans with lemon and toasted walnuts
• Jello mold with canned fruit
• Potatoes, Mashed
• Salad (fancy)
• Salad (plain)
• Salad, Watergate
• Stuffing, Rice
• Stuffing, World's Best Cornbread
• Sweet potatoes, Candied

Desserts:

• Apple pecan pie
• Chocolate, Sweet dark
• Meringue Triple Stars
• Peanut butter balls
• Peanut butter cookies
• Pears, Poached
• Popcorn, Party
• Popcorn, Sweet nutty treats
• Pumpkin Pie
• Pumpkin pie, No-bake

My Aspergers Child: Preventing Tantrums and Meltdowns

Is Abilify® Safe for Children with Autism?

Autism Spectrum Disorder is a neurobiological condition that cannot be cured. Although medications do not fully alleviate the symptoms, it is common for physicians to prescribe a variety of medications to help improve a child with Autism’s outlook and circumstances.

Anti-anxiety drugs, antidepressants, mood stabilizers, and drugs for hyperactivity are all commonly used to lessen the effects of social anxiety, depression, fear, sensory issues, and additional emotional distresses that can cause problems for children with ASD.

With trial and error, the correct medication course and dosage can make all the difference in the life of a child with Autism or ASD. Medication, while not appropriate for all children with Autism, can change the course for some children, allowing for a life of independence.

Researchers are working to find medications that can be used to treat the symptoms of ASD in children. Some medications can serve dual purposes, like an anti-seizure medication that also happens to be a mood stabilizer. Finding safe medication choices for citizens is a job that the US Food and Drug Administration takes very seriously.

Researchers, physicians, parents, and patients can feel relatively certain that when a drug is approved by the FDA for pediatric use, it is safe to use in that capacity. Recently, the FDA approved the drug Abilify® to treat irritability in children with Autism Spectrum Disorder. You can read the official announcement from Bristol-Myers Squibb Company and the FDA here: http://www.medilexicon.com/medicalnews.php?newsid=172339

My Aspergers Child: Preventing Meltdowns and Tantrums in Aspergers Children

Is Early Intervention the Answer?

Thanks to the recent advances in the areas of research and awareness, children are being diagnosed with ASD at increasingly younger ages. In the past, a child with Aspergers would easily go undiagnosed until the second year of school, or even later. Pediatricians are now using guidelines for developmental milestones, along with parental checklists, to question whether young children need to be tested for ASD. Because of these efforts, children as young as 15-18 months of age are receiving the Autism diagnosis, allowing for early treatment options.

Early Intervention programs are state-run government programs that offer testing, evaluation, and treatments to children from birth to age three, with medical needs and/or developmental delays. These programs are funded by state and federal government agencies and are offered to families at no cost beyond health insurance coverage. In most cases, testing is done in the child’s home and therapies are offered within the home if possible.

Recent studies are showing that these Early Intervention programs are making a significant difference in the lives and abilities of children with Autism. The University of Washington in Seattle has published a paper on one such study. This five-year study involved US toddlers who had been diagnosed with Autism. You can read more about the effectiveness of Early Intervention as found in the study at the University of Washington by clicking this link: http://www.medilexicon.com/medicalnews.php?newsid=172495

My Aspergers Child: Preventing Meltdowns and Tantrums in Aspergers Children

Aspergers Kids: Reasons for Their Behavior

You need to understand what your youngster or adolescent is thinking, how he interprets what is going on, and how his deficits cause problems before you can begin any intervention strategy. Do not rush into action until you have collected enough information and analyzed what is going on. If you do not know the reasons behind the behavior, you may very likely do the wrong thing. If you know what is going on, you can help things go better.

Click here for the full article...

Aspergers Child Abuse: Physical, Emotional, and Sexual

Aspergers Child Physical Abuse—

The statistics on physical child abuse are alarming. It is estimated hundreds of thousands of kids are physically abused each year by a parent or close relative. Thousands actually die as a result of the abuse. For those who survive, the emotional trauma remains long after the external bruises have healed. Communities and the courts recognize that these emotional “hidden bruises” can be treated. Early recognition and treatment is important to minimize the long term effect of physical abuse. Whenever a youngster says he or she has been abused, it must be taken seriously and immediately evaluated.

Aspergers kids who have been abused may display:

• a poor self image
• aggressive, disruptive, and sometimes illegal behavior
• anger and rage
• anxiety and fears
• drug and alcohol abuse
• fear of entering into new relationships or activities
• feelings of sadness or other symptoms of depression
• flashbacks, nightmares
• inability to trust or love others
• passive, withdrawn or clingy behavior
• school problems or failure
• self destructive or self abusive behavior, suicidal thoughts
• sexual acting out
• sleep problems

Often the severe emotional damage to abused kids does not surface until adolescence or even later, when many abused kids become abusing moms and dads. An adult who was abused as a youngster often has trouble establishing lasting and stable personal relationships. These men and women may have trouble with physical closeness, touching, intimacy, and trust as adults. They are also at higher risk for anxiety, depression, substance abuse, medical illness, and problems at school or work.

Early identification and treatment is important to minimize the long-term consequences of abuse. Qualified mental health professionals should conduct a comprehensive evaluation and provide treatment for kids who have been abused. Through treatment, the abused youngster begins to regain a sense of self-confidence and trust. The family can also be helped to learn new ways of support and communicating with one another. Moms and dads may also benefit from support, parent training and anger management.

Physical abuse is not the only kind of child abuse. Many kids are also victims of neglect, or sexual abuse, or emotional abuse. In all kinds of child abuse, the youngster and the family can benefit from evaluation and treatment from a qualified mental health professional.

In the view of some experts, Aspergers child abuse in this country has reached almost epidemic proportions. According to a recent report, more than two million kids are subjected to neglect and physical, emotional, or sexual abuse every year.

There is no standard definition of what constitutes child abuse, but each state has statutes that describe the forms of child abuse. Regardless of distinctions in legalistic terminology, however, experts agree that the abuse cases reported represent a small percentage of the actual number of kids who are victims of sever abuse.

Causes and Consequences:

Most moms and dads prefer to think of chronic child abuse as something that happens to other people’s kids. While it is evident that certain kinds of stress make abuse statistically more likely – poverty, job loss, marital problems, extremely young and poorly educated mothers – abuse also occurs across all economic lines and in seemingly good homes. Many people blame the prevalence of violence on TV and in the movies, and while that theory has not as yet been fully substantiated, media violence may contribute to our acceptance of physical aggression toward kids. It is worth noting that cultures in which corporal punishment is not sanctioned have much lower rates of child abuse.

Aspergers Child Sexual Abuse—

Child sexual abuse has been reported up to 80,000 times a year, but the number of unreported instances is far greater, because the kids are afraid to tell anyone what has happened, and the legal procedure for validating an episode is difficult. The problem should be identified, the abuse stopped, and the youngster should receive professional help. The long-term emotional and psychological damage of sexual abuse can be devastating to the youngster.

Child sexual abuse can take place within the family, by a parent, step-parent, sibling or other relative; or outside the home, for example, by a friend, neighbor, child care person, teacher, or stranger. When sexual abuse has occurred, a youngster can develop a variety of distressing feelings, thoughts and behaviors.

No youngster is psychologically prepared to cope with repeated sexual stimulation. Even a two or three year old, who cannot know the sexual activity is wrong, will develop problems resulting from the inability to cope with the overstimulation.

The youngster of five or older who knows and cares for the abuser becomes trapped between affection and loyalty for the person, and the sense that the sexual activities are terribly wrong. If the youngster tries to break away from the sexual relationship, the abuser may threaten the youngster with violence or loss of love. When sexual abuse occurs within the family, the youngster may fear the anger, jealousy or shame of other family members, or be afraid the family will break up if the secret is told.

A youngster who is the victim of prolonged sexual abuse usually develops low self-esteem, a feeling of worthlessness and an abnormal or distorted view of sex. The youngster may become withdrawn and mistrustful of adults, and can become suicidal.

Some kids who have been sexually abused have difficulty relating to others except on sexual terms. Some sexually abused kids become child abusers or prostitutes, or have other serious problems when they reach adulthood.

Often there are no obvious external signs of child sexual abuse. Some signs can only be detected on physical exam by a physician.

Sexually abused Aspergers kids may also develop the following:

• aspects of sexual molestation in drawings, games, fantasies
• delinquency/conduct problems
• depression or withdrawal from friends or family
• refusal to go to school
• secretiveness
• seductiveness
• sleep problems or nightmares
• statements that their bodies are dirty or damaged, or fear that there is something wrong with them in the genital area
• suicidal behavior
• unusual aggressiveness, or
• unusual interest in or avoidance of all things of a sexual nature

Child sexual abusers can make the youngster extremely fearful of telling, and only when a special effort has helped the youngster to feel safe, can the youngster talk freely. If a youngster says that he or she has been molested, moms and dads should try to remain calm and reassure the youngster that what happened was not their fault. Moms and dads should seek a medical examination and psychiatric consultation.

Moms and dads can prevent or lessen the chance of sexual abuse by:

• Encouraging professional prevention programs in the local school system
• Teaching kids that respect does not mean blind obedience to adults and to authority, for example, don't tell kids to, Always do everything the teacher or baby-sitter tells you to do
• Telling kids that if someone tries to touch your body and do things that make you feel funny, say NO to that person and tell me right away

Sexually abused kids and their families need immediate professional evaluation and treatment. Child and adolescent psychiatrists can help abused kids regain a sense of self-esteem, cope with feelings of guilt about the abuse, and begin the process of overcoming the trauma. Such treatment can help reduce the risk that the youngster will develop serious problems as an adult.

Many moms and dads are unsure or squeamish about bringing up sexual matters, especially with their kids. Yet, there are ways of laying the groundwork so that you can talk to your youngster without scaring her. Establish an open dialogue about sexual issues early on. If you introduce the subject of sex in a discussion of abuse, there is the danger that the idea of sex may become automatically linked in your youngster’s mind with danger and anxiety.

If you have fostered in your youngster a sense of ownership regarding her body, she will likely have an instinct about what is okay for her body and what is not. You build on her natural sense of ownerships of her body by letting her pick out her own clothes or wash herself in her own way. Also, avoid pushing her to kiss or hug other adults when she clearly does not want to.

Finally, when moms and dads treat their kid’s bodies with respect, kids tent to demand that others treat their bodies in a similar manner. Kids who are consistently hit, grabbed, or physically punished at home may feel that adults are entitled to misuse their bodies simply because they are bigger.

Responding To Aspergers Child Sexual Abuse—

When a youngster tells an adult that he or she has been sexually abused, the adult may feel uncomfortable and may not know what to say or do. The following guidelines should be used when responding to kids who say they have been sexually abused:

What to Say—If a youngster even hints in a vague way that sexual abuse has occurred, encourage him or her to talk freely. Don't make judgmental comments.

• Assure the youngster that they did the right thing in telling. A youngster who is close to the abuser may feel guilty about revealing the secret. The youngster may feel frightened if the abuser has threatened to harm the youngster or other family members as punishment for telling the secret.

• Show that you understand and take seriously what the youngster is saying. Child and adolescent psychiatrists have found that kids who are listened to and understood do much better than those who are not. The response to the disclosure of sexual abuse is critical to the youngster's ability to resolve and heal the trauma of sexual abuse.

• Tell the youngster that he or she is not to blame for the sexual abuse. Most kids in attempting to make sense out of the abuse will believe that somehow they caused it or may even view it as a form of punishment for imagined or real wrongdoings.

• Finally, offer the youngster protection, and promise that you will promptly take steps to see that the abuse stops.

What to Do—Report any suspicion of child abuse. If the abuse is within the family, report it to the local Child Protection Agency. If the abuse is outside of the family, report it to the police or district attorney's office. Individuals reporting in good faith are immune from prosecution. The agency receiving the report will conduct an evaluation and will take action to protect the youngster.

Moms and dads should consult with their pediatrician or family physician, who may refer them to a physician who specializes in evaluating and treating sexual abuse. The examining doctor will evaluate the youngster's condition and treat any physical problem related to the abuse, gather evidence to help protect the youngster, and reassure the youngster that he or she is all right.

Kids who have been sexually abused should have an evaluation by a child and adolescent psychiatrist or other qualified mental health professional to find out how the sexual abuse has affected them, and to determine whether ongoing professional help is necessary for the youngster to deal with the trauma of the abuse. The child and adolescent psychiatrist can also provide support to other family members who may be upset by the abuse.

While most allegations of sexual abuse made by kids are true, some false accusations may arise in custody disputes and in other situations. Occasionally, the court will ask a child and adolescent psychiatrist to help determine whether the youngster is telling the truth, or whether it will hurt the youngster to speak in court about the abuse.

When a youngster is asked as to testify, special considerations--such as videotaping, frequent breaks, exclusion of spectators, and the option not to look at the accused--make the experience much less stressful.

Adults, because of their maturity and knowledge, are always the ones to blame when they abuse kids. The abused kids should never be blamed.

When a youngster tells someone about sexual abuse, a supportive, caring response is the first step in getting help for the youngster and reestablishing their trust in adults.



Best Comment:

My problem is this....I don't have my son (9 years old)living with me at this time so I can't try the different ways of working with him. I am also facing charges of child abuse at this time and it's scary because I didn't do this and my son self-injured himself and told his father I did it. My son is not with me because he was placed with his father by CPS.
In April, my son was diagnosed as having Aspergers after initally being diagnosed as ADHD/OCD and bipolar tendancies. His father (my ex-husband), also has Aspergers (undiagnosed) and my son is like him in EVERY way. I have seen the destruction that this condition has done to his father, who is now engaged to his 6th wife (I was #4). I have been alone in trying to get my son to work through his problems, and to teach him to treat others with respect. He hates my husband, and doesn't treat anyone at my home nicely, especially me. Now because his father "understands" him, he allows my son's behavior, never correcting it because he doesn't know the difference. His father treats everyone poorly so he doesn't see that my son's problems with school and me are a problem, and thinks I am over exagerating our son's bad behaviour even though his teacher and counselor are on my side.

In May my son was kicked out of school after screaming for an hour in the principal's office because he didn't want to do his math test. His father's new fiance took him for the day because I had just had back surgery and was out of time at work to be able to stay home with him (I had him Monday-Friday). When he came home that night, he was adament that I let him live with his father. When I talked to his father, he said my son just wanted to do fun things with me on the weekend so I could still keep him during the week and if we had something fun coming up on the weekend, I could have him then too. Two weeks later, my son tried again to get kicked out of school (since it worked so well the first time) however the principal and vice principal were not at the school that day, just his counselor. His counselor told him she knew what he was up to, and that no matter how long he screamed, he would not be sent home. She explained to him that he could finish his work that he was refusing to do, and return back to class to try and work on having a good day. When faced with the fact that he wasn't going home, he stopped screaming, did his work, and had a good day. She described their relationship after this as "strained" now.

Again, my son insisted he wanted to go and live with his father, and stay with me on the weekend. He again told that this would not happen.

Without getting into the legalities here, I need some help badly. He has now told everyone that I beat him on a daily basis, sometimes 2 or 3 times a day. I can count 2 times that he had been spanked in a 2 year period by me. Also during this process, in March he reported to his future step-mother that my husband was giving him daily spankings and she in reported us to CPS. When I received the call (2 days after being released from the hospital for my 3rd back surgery) I asked him what this was about, and he said it was about the nightly game that my husband played with him and my 12 year old son. This consisted of them both giving my husband a hug every night before bed. When my husband would release his hug, the boys would take off running, trying to get away before my husband could swat their butts. It was a game that he enjoyed, where he would usually circle back around and punch my husband in the leg, and run off again before he could get the playful swat on his butt. Well, one night he was not on his game and ended up getting tagged. He was pissed, to say the least, for losing that night and went to bed very angry. He stayed up all night obsessing over it, and I suspect went to his father's that morning before school and told his future stepmother that he was spanked the night before.

My oldest son (now 13) is extremely upset with him for lying about this and having CPS investigate it (it was closed out as unsustained). He's also not happy that his brother is telling lies about my "daily beatings". I should also note that my 9 year old was the only child placed by CPS, as my 13 yr old, and my husband's 9 yr old and 6 yr old were deemed to be "safe" (none of them have any problems with me....in fact they all told CPS that my son is not very nice, but I'm very loving).

Both his father and I are police officers. I was forced to retire in October because of my back problems after 21 years. This only compounds things because his father has "pushed" this case through the sheriff's department and now up the chain of command at the D.A.'s office.

I am at a loss as to prove how I did not do these things to my son, and was wondering if you have any ideas that could help me get someone that can help me in court. I have a CPS hearing coming up on December 16th, along with a hearing on December 19th as my ex filed for full custody. 

Aspergers Children: Medication & Side Effects

Kids who have Aspergers (high functioning autism) think and function very differently than other kids. In most cases, they need special help and coaching to function more successfully in their school and home environments. Treatments for Aspergers focus on helping kids manage in these settings.

Special education services, behavior therapy, speech therapy, and physical or occupational therapy may help the youngster learn to function more effectively and harmoniously with others. Training and counseling for parents and other family members also may be helpful.

There are no specific medications used to treat Aspergers. However, kids who suffer from anxiety, depression, hyperactivity, or obsessive-compulsive disorder as a result of Aspergers may benefit from medication to help with these symptoms. When these medications are prescribed, the youngster will be monitored by his or her health care provider at regular intervals throughout treatment.

To treat depression, drugs such as fluoxetine (Prozac®, Sarafem®) may be prescribed. It is important for parents to work closely with the youngster's health care provider and to fully understand how to monitor the youngster for side effects of antidepressant medication. In some kids and teenagers, these medications may increase suicidal thoughts and actions.

Other side effects that should be reported to the youngster's health care provider immediately include the following:

• Aggressive or impulsive behavior
• Agitation or restlessness
• Increased activity level
• Increased chattiness
• Increased depression or anxiety
• Increased irritability
• Panic attacks
• Sleep difficulties
• Strange moods or behavior changes

Kids should be monitored especially closely when they first begin taking antidepressant medication or if the dosage of the medication is changed. These medications should not be discontinued or the dosage changed without consulting a qualified health care provider.

To treat obsessive-compulsive behavior (OCD), clomipramine (Anafranil®) may be prescribed. Clomipramine is also an antidepressant and increases the risk for suicidal thoughts and actions in kids and teens. Patients should be monitored closely while taking this medication. Side effects that should be reported immediately to the youngster's health care provider include the following:

• Weakness
• Tremors
• Tiredness
• Seizures
• Muscle stiffness
• Loss of bladder control or difficulty with urination
• Increased heart rate
• Hallucinations
• Eye pain
• Depression
• Breathing difficulties

The following side effects, which generally are less serious, should be reported to the youngster's health care provider if they persist or cause particular discomfort:

• Sinus congestion
• Nervousness
• Loss of memory or difficulty concentrating
• Intestinal symptoms
• Headache
• Drowsiness
• Changes in appetite

These medications should not be discontinued or the dosage changed without consulting a qualified health care provider.

To treat inattentiveness or hyperactivity, stimulants such as methylphenidate (Concerta®, Ritalin®) or dextroamphetamine (Dexadrine®) may be prescribed. These medications can be habit forming and should be used with caution in patients who have heart problems or psychiatric conditions. The youngster's health care provider will take a careful health history and perform a medical evaluation before prescribing this medication.

Methylphenidate and dextroamphetamine can interfere with the youngster's growth and weight gain. If this occurs, the youngster's health care provider should be contacted right away. The following serious side effects also should be reported immediately:

• Vision problems
• Speech difficulties
• Shortness of breath
• Seizures
• Pounding heartbeat
• Numbness in arms or legs
• Muscle weakness
• Mood changes
• Hives
• Hallucinations
• Extreme tiredness
• Dizziness
• Distorted perceptions of reality
• Chest pain

The following side effects generally are less serious and should be reported to the youngster's health care provider if they persist or cause particular discomfort:

• Sleep problems
• Shakiness, nervousness, or restlessness
• Nausea or vomiting
• Loss of appetite
• Headache
• Gastrointestinal distress
• Dry mouth

These medications should not be discontinued or the dosage changed without consulting a qualified health care provider.

My Aspergers Child: Preventing Meltdowns

Aspergers in Grown-ups

More males than females have Aspergers (high functioning autism). While every man or woman who has the syndrome will experience different symptoms and severity of symptoms, some of the more common characteristics include:
  • Adherence to routines and schedules, and stress if expected routine is disrupted
  • Average or above average intelligence
  • Difficulties in empathizing with others
  • Hampered conversational ability
  • Inability to manage appropriate social conduct
  • Inability to think in abstract ways
  • Problems with controlling feelings such as anger, depression and anxiety
  • Problems with understanding another man or woman's point of view
  • Specialized fields of interest or hobbies

The emotions of other individuals—

A man or woman with Aspergers may have trouble understanding the emotions of other individuals, and the subtle messages that are sent by facial expression, eye contact and body language are often missed. Because of this, a man or woman with Aspergers might be seen as egotistical, selfish or uncaring. These are unfair labels, because the affected individual is neurologically unable to understand other individual's emotional states. They are usually shocked, upset and remorseful when told their actions were hurtful or inappropriate.

Sexual codes of conduct—

Research into the sexual understanding of individuals with Aspergers is in its infancy. Studies suggest that affected individuals are as interested in sex as anyone else, but many don't have the social or empathetic skills to successfully manage adult relationships.

Delayed understanding is common; for example, a man or woman with Aspergers aged in their 20s typically has the sexual codes of conduct befitting a teenager. Even affected individuals who are high achieving and academically or vocationally successful have trouble negotiating the 'hidden rules' of courtship. Inappropriate sexual behavior can result.

Being a partner and parent—

Some affected individuals can maintain relationships and parent children, although there are challenges. Dutch research suggests that the divorce rate for individuals with Aspergers is around 80 per cent.

A common marital problem is unfair distribution of responsibilities. For example, the partner of a man or woman with Aspergers may be used to doing everything in the relationship when it is just the two of them. However, the partner may need practical and emotional support once children come along, which the individual with Aspergers is ill equipped to provide. When the partner expresses frustration or becomes upset that they're given no help of any kind, the individual with Aspergers is typically baffled. Tension in the relationship often makes their symptoms worse.

The workplace—

The Commonwealth Department of Family and Community Services, in conjunction with a range of specialist employment services, help to place individuals with disabilities in the workforce. A man or woman with Aspergers may find their job opportunities limited by their disability. It may help to choose a vocation that takes into account the individual's symptoms, and plays to the strengths rather than the weaknesses. The following career suggestions are adapted from material written by Temple Grandin, who has high-functioning autism and is an assistant professor at Colorado University, USA.

Careers to avoid—

Careers that rely on short term memory should be avoided. Examples include:
  • Air traffic controller
  • Cashier
  • Receptionist
  • Short order cook
  • Taxi dispatcher
  • Waitress

Career suggestions for visual thinkers—

Suggestions include:
  • Appliance repair
  • Building maintenance
  • Building trades
  • Commercial art
  • Computer programming
  • Drafting
  • Equipment design
  • Handcraft artisan
  • Mechanic
  • Photography
  • Video game designer
  • Webpage designer

Career suggestions for those good at mathematics or music—

Suggestions include:
  • Accounting
  • Bank teller
  • Computer programming
  • Engineering
  • Filing positions
  • Journalist, copy editor
  • Mathematician
  • Physician
  • Piano (or other musical instrument) tuner
  • Statistician
  • Taxi driver
  • Telemarketing

Common issues for partners—

An adult's diagnosis of Aspergers often tends to follow their child's diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder. This 'double whammy' can be extremely distressing to the partner who has to cope simultaneously with both diagnoses. Counseling, or joining a support group where they can talk with other individuals who face the same challenges, can be helpful. Some common issues for partners include:
  • A sense of isolation, because the challenges of their relationship are different and not easily understood by others.
  • After accepting that their partner's Aspergers won't get better, common emotions include guilt, despair and disappointment.
  • Difficulties in accepting that their partner won't recover from Aspergers.
  • Failure to have their own needs met by the relationship.
  • Feeling overly responsible for their partner.
  • Frequent wondering about whether or not to end the relationship.
  • Frustration, since problems in the relationship don't seem to improve despite great efforts.
  • Lack of emotional support from family members and friends who don't fully understand or appreciate the extra strains placed on a relationship by Aspergers.

Depression—

Like all mental conditions which cause people to behave differently from the norm, Aspergers is associated with depression. Depression can be caused by a number of things including:
  • Anxiety and Panic Attacks
  • Fatigue or Tiredness due either to the condition that all to the treatment of the condition
  • Guilt or regret over past actions/outburst/meltdowns
  • Miscommunications / Misunderstandings
  • Overwhelming feelings and thoughts
  • Social troubles because you do not seem to fit in

Recent research suggests that depression is common in individuals with Asperger syndrome with about 1 in 15 people with Aspergers experiencing such symptoms. There are a number of factors which would influence the onset of depression. These include as follows:
  • Difficulty reading of other people's body language expressions and tone (leading to misunderstandings)
  • Obsession with completeness, order and patterns
  • Obsessive compulsion
  • Unusual world view/Paradigm
  • Very good long term memory

Things to remember—

A man or woman with Aspergers often has trouble understanding the emotions of other individuals, and the subtle messages that are sent by facial expression, eye contact and body language are often missed. Research suggests that the divorce rate for individuals with Aspergers is around 80 per cent. Social training, which teaches how to behave in different social situations, is generally more helpful to a man or woman with Aspergers than counseling.

Living With Aspergers: Help for Couples

Examples of Schedules for Children on the Autism Spectrum

A daily schedule benefits Aspergers (high functioning autistic) children by providing the structured environment that is critical to their sense of security and mastery. If you spend any time in a kindergarten or elementary school, you will marvel at the teacher's ability to organize the kid's day.

In this post, we will look at the following:
  • Analyzing The Day 
  • Brainstorming What You Want
  • Writing Everything Down 
  • Following the Schedule for a Week 
  • Tweaking the Schedule
  • An in-depth example of a schedule

Click here for the full article...


Diagnosing "Asperger's Syndrome" in Children

When moms and dads seek help for their youngster, they encounter varied opinions – he'll outgrow it, leave him alone, it's no big deal, he just wants attention, and so on. Many professionals try to work with the Aspergers (high-functioning autistic) youngster as if his disorder is like other developmental disorders, but it is quite different. In most cases, there is a great misunderstanding by many people of the needs of these special individuals.

For the inexperienced, recognizing the six defining characteristics of Aspergers as outlined in the introduction can be difficult, and misdiagnoses are quite common. This is further complicated by the fact that an Aspergers youngster or teen has many of the same characteristics found in other disorders. These various characteristics are often misinterpreted, overlooked, under-emphasized, or over-emphasized. As a result, a youngster may receive many different diagnoses over time or from different professionals.

For example, if a youngster with Aspergers demonstrates a high degree of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) -- that might be the only diagnosis he receives. However, this is a common characteristic of Aspergers kids. The same holds true if obsessive or compulsive behaviors are displayed – the youngster gets labeled with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) instead of Aspergers. The following traits are also commonly seen in those with Aspergers in varying degrees. However, just because these traits are there, it doesn't mean that the youngster should be diagnosed differently; these traits should be noted as significant features of Aspergers:

• Anxiety
• Difficulty with pragmatic language skills
• Hyperlexia (advanced word recognition skills)
• Motor deficits
• Oppositional defiant disorder (ODD)
• Sensory difficulties
• Social skills deficits

As mentioned, professionals who do not have much experience with Aspergers have a hard time identifying the defining characteristics. For example, social skill deficits may be noted by a professional, but then they are often downplayed because the youngster or adolescent appears to be having appropriate conversations with others or seems to be interested in other people. But with an Aspergers youngster, the conversations are not generally reciprocal, so the youngster must be carefully observed to see whether or not there is true back-and-forth interaction.

Also, many Aspergers kids have an interest in others, but you need to clarify if the objects of their interest are age appropriate. Do they interact with peers in an age-appropriate fashion? Can they maintain friendships over a period of time or do they end as the novelty wears off? These are the types of observations and questions that must be asked in order to ensure a proper diagnosis.

Another example of an overlooked area is the narrow routines or rituals that are supposed to be present. This does not always manifest as obsessive-compulsive behavior in the typical sense, such as repeated handwashing or neatness, but rather in the insistence on the need for rules about many issues and situations. These kids may not throw tantrums over their need for rules, but may require them just as much as the person who has a meltdown when a rule is violated. In essence, there is no single profile of the typical Aspergers individual. They are not all the same, as you will see in later chapters.

Because of these subtleties and nuances, the single most important consideration in diagnosis is that the person making the initial diagnosis be familiar with autistic spectrum disorders – in particular, Aspergers. They should have previously diagnosed numerous kids. To make a proper, initial diagnosis requires the following:

1. An evaluation by an occupational therapist familiar with sensory integration difficulties may provide additional and valuable information.

2. It is important to include a speech and language evaluation, as those with Aspergers will display impairments in the pragmatics and semantics of language, despite having adequate receptive and expressive language. This will also serve to make moms and dads aware of any unusual language patterns the youngster displays that will interfere in later social situations. Again, these oddities may not be recognized if the evaluator is not familiar with Aspergers.

3. The youngster should see a neurologist or developmental pediatrician (again, someone familiar with autistic spectrum disorders) for a thorough neurological exam to rule out other medical conditions and to assess the need for medication. The physician may suggest additional medical testing (blood, urine, fragile X, hearing).

4. You and your youngster should have sessions with a psychologist where your youngster is carefully observed to see how he responds in various situations. This is done through play or talk sessions in the psychologist's office and by discussions with both moms and dads. The psychologist may ask you to complete checklists or questionnaires to gain a better understanding of the youngster's behaviors at home and/or school. If the youngster is in school, the psychologist may call the youngster's teacher or ask her to complete additional checklists. The checklists or questionnaires used should be ones that are appropriate for individuals with Aspergers. It is important to determine the IQ level of your youngster as well. An average or above-average IQ is necessary for a diagnosis of Aspergers.

Diagnosis of Asperger’s and Resultant Grief

Question

I have a son recently diagnosed with Aspergers and am in denial about my family situation, but I want to start to take some control back ...where should I start?

Answer

The feelings you are experiencing are completely normal. A diagnosis of Asperger’s (high functioning autism) brings with it a mourning process in some cases. Every parent faced with a life-changing situation will need time (some more than others) to sort out the emotions.

Denial is natural. Even if the diagnosis has been a long time coming, you may still feel like someone ripped the rug from beneath your feet. Your first reaction, "not my child," is not just common but expected. Be aware that there are several steps in the mourning process. Anger and depression are other steps of mourning that can come at any time.

The fact that you sense the need to take control shows that you are moving through the process. You are reaching acceptance. Your child needs you and you want to offer him the very best support possible. Here are some ideas you can use to regain control of your home life.

* Finding support is crucial. Autism support groups are a great place to connect with other parents. You do not have to go through this trial alone. Gathering with others living with Asperger’s can give you the strength you need to find acceptance.

* Arm yourself with information on Asperger’s Syndrome. Read books, consult specialists, and contact research organizations. Knowledge equals power. When you know what to expect, your situation becomes smaller than you are, allowing you to conquer what once seemed too big.

* Work together as a family to change your circumstances. Do the things you have been avoiding because of the diagnosis. Get out of the house together, enjoy each other, and don’t worry about what other people think or say.

* Consider going to a counselor. Sometimes we need a neutral, caring professional to talk with about our situation. Couples counseling can also help. Having a special needs child can be tough on a marriage. Group therapy for the family can get everyone on the same page, united and ready to move forward.

* Now you can get down to the business of treatment. Children with Asperger’s usually do very well with a little assistance. Discuss treatment options with your child’s physician, psychologist, and school special education team.

You will find that taking action, even if you have to start out with baby steps, will help you get out of that hole called denial and have you moving along toward a brighter future.

My Aspergers Child: Preventing Tantrums in Aspergers Children

 
COMMENTS:

•    Anonymous said... Don't forget your extended support system like the child's grandparent or very close friends. They can be a good sounding board.
•    Anonymous said... I remember when my son was diagnosed with Aspbergers. I cried all day, then the next day I read everything I could on Aspbergers. My husband and I fought a lot after he was diagnosed. He felt like nothing had changed, and we should treat him the same way we did our daughter with punishment for bad behavior, ect. Now, after 3 years I think he finally understands. It finally feels like we are working together not against each other when it comes to our son. It's hard, I felt like I was the only one supporting our son and accepting him for who he really was.
•    Anonymous said... I think there is always someone in our lives who goes into denial about our children. For me it was my ex husband (her father) and my own mother. I got lots of "she'll grow out of it" "you worry to much" to even having it suggested I suffered from Munchhausen. They did finally come around and she is now the apple of the families eye but it does take time for some people to take it all on board. As the parent who is dealing with it face to face we don't have that luxury. Burying our heads in the sand does not get our children the help they need
•    Anonymous said... It's really hard and I know how you feel. My ex husband blamed "my" parenting for our sins behaviour. For years I had to fight not only the professionals but him...right up to the point I got the diagnoses. I'm still not able to give any kind if medication as his dad won't allow it. It's still not 100% but we are now working together. It took about 5 years. Good luck and I hope your husband comes around as you need the support x
•    Anonymous said... Janette remember my entire years of experience bringing up a child that was just labelled "a naughty boy" and the only thing that got us through the entire ordeal was our love for him and Gods help without us knowing it. You too will "get through it" there is much help available now, not so in the 1960s and you know this "child" so you know what i'm telling you is positive proof that one can handle these situations. Love Gillianx
•    Anonymous said... My "aspie" is 25 and he still needs me as his advocate. The degree has changed, but not the basic need. We're in this for the long haul! He brings so much joy , to those willing to take the time and explore the depths.
•    Anonymous said... My aspberger's child also has multiple rare diseases. My husband is supportive I'm his own way but not always in the me or our son need. We both know he loves us but he doesn't handle " sick " well and he is very military minded and has a hard time understanding that our son is not the same child that he was growing up.
•    Anonymous said... my son is nearly 8 and was diagnosed at 5..his dad and i separated a year later..he is still in denial and blames our sons behavior on my parenting,i know my x is also asd and his 2 sons from a previous relationship,all in denial...it's so hard..i love my son dearly and find it so difficult standing alone as his advocate sometimes without any support..his dad does not support him financially,his relationship with my son is not consistent but hey we do so much better without his constant criticism,negative energy,and mood swings,angry outbursts and control...life has been much more relaxed and happy without him...yeyyyy

Please post your comment below…

Aspergers Teens: Clueless Geeks?

Aspergers Teen Shares His Story


Hi. My name is Shawn. I’m a teenager with Aspergers. Here’s my story…

First of all, unlike autistic people, I did not have trouble learning to speak. However, I do have mild hyperlexia, which basically means a large vocabulary. Moreover, it is common for autistics and aspies to have some trouble lying, recognizing lies, and interpreting metaphors. The result is that most Aspergers teens are seen as literal and humorless.

Like many Aspergers teens, my voice can sometimes sound monotonous and emotionless. Similarly, Aspergers teens are known for giving soliloquies about their favorite subjects, or perseverations, not always realizing how much they are boring the individuals they are speaking to.

Aspergers teens sometimes also miss facial expressions, body gestures, and implications. While I can often pick up on someone's emotional state from a quick glance at their face (and it has to be quick because, like most Aspergers teens, I have trouble looking individuals in the eye), I can often completely miss things or misinterpret them. Likewise, my facial expression is usually plain or uncontrolled.

Aspergers teens tend to take an obsessive interest in detailed things. It is typical for an aspie to take an all-encompassing interest in something for a few months and later become interested in something else after having already learned enough about the first subject. In other words, we aspies have "weird," nerdy interests and hobbies.

This is a chicken-and-egg problem, of course. Do we aspies take up these perseverations because we are unable to occupy ourselves with more neurotypical (NT) (that is, something relating to nonautistics) socializing, or do our perseverations prevent us from socializing? Maybe it's a little bit of both.

Nevertheless, perseveration for me has meant spending my early teenage years learning how to program and becoming especially adept at using Windows. A little later it meant focusing on perfecting my French accent and reading French newspapers like Le Monde. Because of my perseverations, I have a more thorough understanding of history, politics, language, computers, psychology, geography, and numerous other subjects than the average person. In contrast, I have a deficit of knowledge about today's pop stars, actors, and social gossip. This sometimes makes it hard for individuals to have interesting conversations with me.

It is not uncommon for me to hear high-frequency noises that go unnoticed by most individuals. I can sometimes hear the buzzing of the lights, TV, and other things, especially if I'm trying to fall asleep or it's quiet. A similar thing is I dislike the feel of cotton balls, although I've heard some NTs complain about this too.

Another thing is I frequently mishear individuals and sometimes don't hear them at all. If you say, "I went to the park today," I might hear, "I went tooth per day," or some other nonsense; and so I often have to ask, "Huh?" or "What?"

Sometimes I don't notice things right in front of my face. I have more than once accidentally skipped problems on a test because the question was too close to the directions, which I probably didn't read (did I mention Aspergers teens are sometimes too honest?). Especially in mathematics, I have been known to make absent-minded mistakes by doing things like 6 * 5 = 35. This would disqualify me from being an engineer or surgeon, I think.

For a person with Asperger's (an aspie), friendships, social banter, and romantic relationships can be difficult channels to navigate. Aspergers teens have more than their share of difficulties making friends and finding a loving mate. Part of it is our perseverative interests, another part must be our tendency towards literal interpretations, and a third must be our tendency to be rigid and conservative--unfun. Many of us long for better social acceptance or at least friends to keep our lives interesting, but sometimes this seems beyond our grasp.

Many Aspergers teens show signs of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, especially the inattentive type. In fact, many Aspergers teens are misdiagnosed as having ADD.

There also seems to be a relationship between autistic spectrum disorders and obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). While Aspergers teens do have perseverative (obsessive) interests, a significant portion develops actual OCD. Aspergers children with OCD may or may not show the typical symptoms of OCD, like compulsive hand washing.

Various anxiety disorders and anxious personality disorders other than OCD, especially social phobia and avoidant personality disorder, may also develop, as the autistic life can be stressful.

Depression is also not uncommon among Aspergers teens. My own life has too often been filled with this mood. I was first and most depressed in 8th and 9th grades when my life seemed to have reached a low point. I had recently changed from a Catholic elementary school to the public school system, and adjustment was harsh. The only emotions I knew were anger and frustration. I could only see the worst of intentions in others towards me, and I became the more socially secluded than I'd ever been before. My recover from this strong depression included becoming an atheist, changing my attitude towards life, and becoming more accepting. I still become depressed sometimes but not nearly as badly as back then.

The aspie sense of humor is somewhat different from most individual's sense of humor. I am especially good at making odd connections about social happenings and use highly sarcastic humor to criticize actions like the invasion of Iraq. My disconnection from society along with my attempts to better understand society are a gold mine containing the nuggets of social injustices and inequalities, hypocrisies, and self-aggrandizement.

I vent my unattainable need for excitement and companionship through art. I can sketch disturbing images of distorted faces and forms as well as near photorealistic pictures--if I'm looking at the object or a photograph of that object. Writing, especially humorous writing is another thing that allows me to assuage my unfulfillment.

I have written--even perseverated on--this article in the sincere hope that someone might better understand aspies and not write us off as clueless geeks. We aspies only want what everyone else wants: happiness.

My Aspergers Child: How to Prevent Meltdowns in Aspergers Children and Teens

Aspergers Syndrome: Frequently Asked Questions

Aspergers (high functioning autism) is an autism spectrum disorder (ASD) characterized by symptoms such as very focused or obsessive interests, deficits in social skills, and some language differences. Since two of my sons were diagnosed with Aspergers and I've written a little on the subject, I've been asked many questions about this confusing and misunderstood disorder.

What exactly is Aspergers, anyway?

As I said before, it's an autism spectrum disorder. Picture something like a number line in your mind; this is the "spectrum". At one end, you will have children who are completely non-verbal, have virtually no social skills or ability to interact with others, and are diagnosed mentally retarded. OK, before we go any further, make sure you throw out that old idea of "retarded" from your grade-school playground. Mental retardation (MR) is a clinical diagnosis; the textbook definition of "retarded" is slow, and most of us are retarded in one area or another. So if your youngster is on the spectrum (or isn't, for that matter) and has been diagnosed MR, don't sweat it too much. It is not a death sentence or something to be ashamed of. It simply is, and many children with MR have more common sense than those who are considered "gifted", and do quite well for themselves. Back to the spectrum-at the opposite end of your line, you'll have children with high IQs, a few quirky personality traits, and some mild social impairment. This is what classic Aspergers is. Most children with AUTISM SPECTRUM DISORDER will fall somewhere between these two extremes, and the symptoms of Aspergers can vary from person to person. Aspergers is a high-functioning AUTISM SPECTRUM DISORDER, which means the autistic symptoms are present to a lesser degree and most children with Aspergers are able to function normally, or almost normally, in society.

What are the symptoms of Aspergers?

Children with Aspergers tend to have very focused interests, and often seem to be obsessed with one or two subjects. These interests are often related to things with moving parts, like trains or automobiles, or how things are built, or fact-based things like history or numbers, but not always. Many younger youngsters develop interests in scientific things like dinosaurs or space. These interests may be life-long, or may change every few months or years. It can be frustrating hearing about the same subject over and over, but this focus is actually something that can work to a person's advantage. My older son has developed quite an obsession with history, especially WWII history, and he plans on channeling this into a career as an historian or a history teacher. Since children with Aspergers often have excellent memories, especially for things like facts and dates, they can become "walking encyclopedias". My son has been a great help in teaching his younger siblings about history, and he's the one who always reminds us whose turn it is to host different holiday celebrations each year. Of course then there are those times, especially when the youngsters are young, that you wish their memories weren't so good. There's nothing like having your little genius tell everyone at the Christmas party about something embarrassing you did when the kid was only two years old-and tell it with remarkable detail to boot.

Children with Aspergers also have somewhat impaired social skills. They may not understand the reciprocity of a relationship, or the "give-and-take." It may be hard for your youngster to understand that not everyone wants to play what he likes to play. It isn't a matter of being obnoxious or rude; it's just that he really doesn't understand that something that's fabulous to him might not be fabulous to everyone. This can tie in to the obsessive interests as well; he may not understand that not everyone really wants to hear a half-hour lesson on baseball statistics, and children with Aspergers often can't pick up on others' non-verbal cues that they are bored or disinterested. When trying to win the heart of a young lady, a teenage boy with Aspergers may try and woo her with the most fascinating subject he can think of. Unfortunately, she may want to talk about Fall Out Boy or what she should wear to the mall, not hear a tutorial on all the weaponry used in the first half of World War II. Children with Aspergers often fare better in one-on-one situations with friends or in very small groups. Both of my boys are very uncomfortable in group situations, especially those with unfamiliar people, but my older son - the "classic" case of Aspergers - deals with it much better than my younger son. A person with Aspergers, when placed in a large group or uncomfortable situation, may look like a typical person with an extreme case of shyness, looking down at the ground and not speaking to anyone. Often when a person with Aspergers becomes involved in a conversation that makes him uncomfortable, he will change the subject to one that he is comfortable with-there we are again with the interests-and ignore the other person's attempts to get the conversation back on track. When a youngster with Aspergers has two friends over to play, he may have a hard time paying attention to both and working with them to find activities they can all enjoy. He may have trouble understanding the rules of games, or accepting that he can't always win, just because he wants to.

Children with Aspergers sometimes appear to lack common sense. They may need to be told step-by-step how to perform a task many, many times before they get the hang of it. They may not be able to look at a situation and see what is the next logical step or they may follow directions a bit too exactly. My son baked a cake once, and the instructions on the box of cake mix said to bake it until a knife inserted in the center came out clean. He made the cake, and it smelled heavenly. After it was done he came to me looking distressed, because he couldn't figure out how to get the knife out of the cake without tearing the whole cake up. He had laid a knife in the center of the cake pan, in the unbaked batter, before putting it in the oven. Most youngsters at fourteen would know that wasn't the right thing to do, but he was simply following the directions as he read them.

Another symptom that often accompanies Aspergers is a range of sensory difficulties. The youngster with Aspergers may have a strong aversion to certain tastes, smells or textures. Conversely, he may seek out different sensory stimuli, smelling or tasting everything he comes in contact with. Certain sounds may be torturous to the Aspergers youngster's ears. There is a name for this condition: Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD), also known as Sensory Integration Disorder, and while it frequently is present in youngsters with AUTISM SPECTRUM DISORDER, it can also be present independently.

Youngsters with Aspergers often have a very strong need for routines and schedules. If the routine is broken, they may have "fits" or withdraw, or simply be pretty darn angry at Mom and Dad. My little one got grounded from the computer for being quite naughty, and all day Monday-his computer day-he was asking why he couldn't play. He's smart, he just couldn't get past the fact that it was his computer day and he wasn't playing. We've had to rethink that particular consequence for him. Children with Aspergers frequently like things to be "just so", making them great little organizers and helpers. If you need that silverware drawer organized, you know who to ask.

A person with Aspergers may also exhibit clumsy or uncoordinated movements. He may have an awkward-looking gait or, like my little guy, look like a marionette when he runs. Hand-eye coordination may be a problem in children with Aspergers, along with some fine- and gross-motor delays, although these are usually not significant.

One thing that is often present in children with Aspergers is high IQ and advanced verbal skills. While the person with Aspergers may have talked early and have an extensive vocabulary, he may not understand sarcasm or figures of speech, like "It's time to hit the road" or "I put my foot in my mouth". My oldest son and his father have almost a brotherly relationship at times, picking on each other about opposing football teams and their differing tastes in music. My son knows he doesn't get things sometimes, and will actually stop his dad mid-debate and say "You know I can't tell when you're teasing me; you have to tell me!" So Dad says "All right, you're about to get picked on" and Dylan knows it's time to bring out the zingers about the Steelers' last season. It may also be hard for someone with Aspergers to get the point of a joke, or to know when it's appropriate to say certain things. You may have to give lots of reminders to the adolescent that just discovered dirty jokes, that Grandma's house is not the place to share them. He may take things very literally-if dinner is in a minute, it better be in sixty seconds exactly or you'll hear about it. Moms and dads of youngsters with Aspergers sometimes feel as if they've had to learn a whole new language, losing the idioms and slang expressions we're all so used to.

Some children with Aspergers may have all of these symptoms; some may have just a few.

When did you first see the signs of Aspergers in your youngsters?

This is difficult to answer; I knew my younger son was different since birth, and though he is diagnosed with Aspergers, some of his behaviors place him lower on the spectrum. I was unsure of what was up with him, and it took a series of evaluations, starting when he was in kindergarten, before we came up with a diagnosis that somewhat fit. Bear in mind that the only purpose of a diagnosis or label is to obtain services. You may not want your youngster 'labeled', but if you want help for him, it's a necessity. If I had known the signs and symptoms of Aspergers when my older son was small, I probably would have seen it when he was in elementary school. He was diagnosed with Tourette syndrome at age six (fortunately it's a very mild case) and I believe misdiagnosed with ADHD at the same time. While ADHD can co-exist with Aspergers, looking back I can see that the ADHD behaviors were actually a symptom of his sensory difficulties. We only had him re-evaluated a few months ago, because new issues appear with adolescence. I want his behavior to be understood by his professors when he goes to college, and I also want him to be able to understand his differences (he is very aware of them) and know that there is a medical reason for them.

How is Aspergers diagnosed?

As of now there is no definitive test, like a blood test, for Aspergers. If you suspect your youngster has an AUTISM SPECTRUM DISORDER, take him to his pediatrician for a thorough check-up. My younger son was sent for a full metabolic workup to eliminate a physical cause for his behaviors, and then sent to a developmental pediatrician. Your primary doctor may be able to diagnose Aspergers, or it may take a trip (or a few) to a developmental pediatrician or psychologist. We were given a form to fill out called the Gilliam Asperger Scale, which contained many, many questions about the youngster's behavior and symptoms. If your youngster is in school, a form may be sent for the teacher to fill out as well. The form will be scored and if your youngster scores as "a high probability for Aspergers" and the doctor's observations concur, then you'll likely be on your way to a diagnosis of Aspergers. At the visit you'll be asked a lot of questions, as will your youngster, if he is developmentally able to answer. The doctor will observe the youngster and may administer some play-type tests. The diagnosis of Aspergers is basically done by process of elimination-if the test and observations indicate Aspergers, and there is nothing else that is causing the symptoms, you have an Aspergers diagnosis. Your doctor may want to monitor the child for a while before making the official diagnosis.

What can be done to help the child with Aspergers?

There is no cure for Aspergers or autism. Some moms and dads swear by nutritional changes or supplements but none of that has worked for us. Your doctor may refer your youngster to an occupational therapist (OT) to address any sensory issues. Some areas have social skills groups for youngsters that could be very beneficial. Try and stick to your routine as much as possible and warn your youngster as far in advance as you can when something is going to change. It is important to have some change, though; things don't run like clockwork in the real world and you have to try and get your youngster to be a bit less dependent on his routines and schedules. If your youngster has an OT, ask her or your doctor about brushing to calm your youngster. Known as the Wilbarger Protocol or Wilbarger Method, brushing is just what it sounds like-brushing the youngster's arms, legs, hands and feet with a small surgical brush. You will need a professional to show you how to do this, along with the joint compressions that go along with it, but it was well worth the time for us. It only took my son's OT a few minutes to demonstrate the technique, and as odd as it sounds, it really works for us.

Where do I go for help?

Online Parent Support has been an invaluable resource for me. They offer support groups, parent-matching (where a parent of a newly-diagnosed youngster with a disability can be matched with a parent who has been through it), informational meetings, and a wealth of information through their library, handouts, and knowledgeable staff. Most states have a Family Support Network or similar programs; check with your pediatrician or department of social services for a list of services for moms and dads. The Autism Society also has many resources for moms and dads of youngsters on the autism spectrum. Look in local papers for lists of support groups and services. If your youngster is in school, the administration there may be of help. Remember that your youngster has a right to a good education and you have the right to be involved in the decisions about his education. If you have problems, the autism society should be able to refer to you the right place for help.

Will my child with Aspergers be OK?

YES! Raising a youngster is never easy, whether they come with some kind of syndrome or not. Aspergers is not fatal or physically debilitating. Children with Aspergers often grow up to be doctors, scientists, teachers, musicians, custodians, laborers, lawyers, artists, heads of huge computer companies worth billions of dollars...yes, Bill Gates is rumored to have Aspergers. So are many other famous people, including Einstein and Andy Warhol. Be aware that there are other disorders such as Tourette syndrome, ADD, OCD and depression that can accompany Aspergers, but they don't always, and all are treatable; millions of people live with these things every day and lead happy, productive lives. Focus on the positive things, be there to support your youngster, learn as much as you can about Aspergers, become an advocate, and your youngster will have every opportunity to succeed.

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