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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Is it Aspergers, ADD, or Both?

"My 6-year-old son was diagnosed with ADD at age 5. But now we are seeing signs that he may have asperger's syndrome or high functioning autism. What percentage of ADD children also have autism? Is a dual diagnosis common?"

Most kids with Aspergers (high functioning autism) don’t receive that diagnosis until after age 6. Usually, they are diagnosed with Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) as toddlers. Part of the reason is that physicians routinely screen kids for ADD but not for autism. Another reason is that an Aspergers child's social impairment becomes more evident once he starts school. Finally, physicians are reluctant to label a youngster "autistic." It is okay - and even a badge of honor - to have a hyperactive youngster, but it is another thing entirely to have an autistic youngster.

Physicians make their diagnoses based on the youngster’s behaviors. Since kids with ADD and Aspergers share similar behaviors, the two can appear to overlap. However, there is a fundamental difference between the two. For example:
  • An Aspergers child can appear unfocused, forgetful and disorganized like a youngster with ADD, but there is a difference. The ADD youngster is easily distracted. The Aspergers child has no "filter."
  • Aspergers children don’t understand that relationships are two-sided. If an Aspergers child talks on and on in an unmodulated voice about his particular interest, he simply does not understand that he is boring his friend and showing disinterest in his friend's side of the conversation. On the other hand, the youngster with ADD can’t control himself from dominating the conversation.
  • Aspergers children lack what physicians call "social reciprocity" or Theory of Mind. Theory of Mind is "the capacity to understand that other people have thoughts, feelings, motivations and desires that are different from our own." Kids with ADD have a Theory of Mind and understand other people's motives and expectations. They make appropriate eye contact and understand social cues, body language and hidden agendas in social interactions. Aspergers children can’t.
  • Aspergers children tend to get anxious and stuck about small things and can’t see the "big picture." Kids with ADD are not detailed-oriented.
  • Both have social difficulties, but for different reasons.
  • Both kinds of kids can tantrum, talk too loud and too much and have problems modulating their behaviors and making friends.
  • If the unfocused Aspergers child is "nowhere," the obsessive-compulsive and "fantasy" Aspergers child is somewhere else. "Fantasy Aspergers children" retreat into a world of their own making - a world where everything goes the way they want it to. They play video games for hours or retreat into books and music. Their daydreaming and fantasizing resembles the behaviors of non-hyperactive kids with ADD.
  • Kids with ADD respond to behavioral modification. With Aspergers, the syndrome is the behavior.
  • Obsessive-compulsive Aspergers children live a world they create from rules and rituals. Like ADD kids, they appear preoccupied and distracted, but for different reasons. They appear distracted because they are always thinking about their "rules” (e.g., Did I tie my shoelaces right? Did I brush my teeth for 120 seconds?).
  • The ADD youngster understands the rules but lacks the self-control to follow them. The Aspergers child does not understand the rules.
  • The Aspergers child views everything in her environment as equally important. Her teacher's dangling earring is as important as what she writes on the blackboard. The Aspergers child does not understand that she does not have to memorize the entire textbook for the next test. She does not "get" such rules.
  • The youngster with ADD knows what to do, but forgets to do it. Aspergers children don’t know what to do.

Some researchers estimate that 60% to 70% of Aspergers children also have ADD, which they consider a common comorbidity of Aspergers. Other researchers say that the two can’t exist together. Still others insist physicians have it all wrong and that the two disorders are the same.

The real problem is that there is no hard science. No one knows exactly how slight imperfections in brain structure and chemistry cause such problems. For this reason, getting the right diagnosis for a youngster who exhibits behavior problems may take years of trial and error. Diagnosis is based on observation of behaviors that are similar for a myriad of disorders. 

The tragedy is that the youngster often does not receive the correct medications, educational strategies, and behavioral modification techniques that could help him function on a higher level. He falls farther behind his peer group and loses ground when he could be getting appropriate treatments.

The Aspergers Comprehensive Handbook


COMMENTS:

•    Anonymous said… fabulous info! thank you....
•    Anonymous said… Great article, thanks!
•    Anonymous said… My son haznt got any speech delays but shows every sympton of aspie but they wont diagnose him they wana diagnose him wid adhd an attachment disorder cus he waz poorly when a babie im still thinkin aspergers thow
•    Anonymous said… My son is 11 and still officially 'undiagnosed'!!!
•    Anonymous said… my son was diagnosed smack bang on the age of 6 ... no speech delay for this man . cant shut him up since the age of one !!! but other things make sense now . hes nearly seven :)
•    Anonymous said… My son was diagnosed with autism at 3. He is now 11 and presents as a child with Aspergers but at 3 there was speech delay.
•    Anonymous said… My son was just diagnosed at 7... at three he was diagnosed with speech delay anxeity disorder and ocd....
•    Anonymous said… the doctor that diagnosed my daughter said the only difference between asperger's and high functioning autism is the speech delays in the early years 
•    Anonymous said... Adhd n add will never be on the spectrum. Add n adhd are commonly diagnosed with Aspergers because some of the "symptoms" are in both. Sensory issues are in almost every child with an ASD.
•    Anonymous said... I have 2 with adhd and one with asd. While a few of the symptoms are the same, and a child can have both, I could not imagine add or adhd being on the spectrum in any way ever.
•    Anonymous said... My son has asbergers adhd ocd and generalized anxiety disorder
•    Anonymous said... They are talking about putting ADD and ADHD on the spectrum, so your question is yes. Going to share your page.
•    Anonymous said... yes my son was diagnosed with adhd when he started school but he always had the aspergers tendencies. he has been re diagnosed as adhd-asd-aspergers syndrome.
•    Anonymous said… I agree. My 15 year old son was diagnosed with ADHD at 5 but wasn't given a formal diagnosis of Aspergers till he was 9. One of the reasons for the delay was other cases where the disability was evident took precedent. Unfortunately, in cases such as Autism or FASD where the disability is "invisible" or intangible, individuals are more often than not last priority in psychological assessments in school.
•    Anonymous said… I've had a lot of anger towards the specialists who were a part of diagnosing my son with ADHD when he was 5. I always knew it wasn't the answer, and sought help from different sources (pediatrician, school special education team, therapists...) only to feel like I was going crazy because I was the only one who didn't want to medicate him for ADD. Four (long and tough) years later, we're in the process of an autism assessment. The more I read about the spectrum, the more I feel that it's so blatantly obvious that autism symptoms are what have been ailing him and causing his issues at school for so long; and it has made me angry that those specialists (who should be familiar enough with those symptoms) didn't see it or suggest it 4 years ago. This article helped me come to peace with that a little bit. I still find it strange that doctors routinely screen for ADHD over autism, and I think it's because there is medication for ADHD, a quick fix, where ASD takes a lot more time/resources/intervention.
•    Anonymous said… Very common to have both diagnosis. Actually, having only Aspergers is more rare. Aspies usually have a second diagnosis of ADHD, depression, or OCD according to what I have read and seen. My son was diagnosed ADHD at 3 1/2. At that time he was also tested for ASD, but not diagnosed. Within 2 years, he had changed quite a bit, and it then became evident that he also had Aspergers.
•    Anonymous said… Yes, there can be a dual diagnoses. I have a triple one. In our case, it is all evident and true. Asperger's and ADHD. The third one is a attachment/ bonding disorder. All are clearly right on point 100%. Some do not like to diagnose so quick. It is a process that may require a couple of opinions.

Please post your comment below... 

3 comments:

Mary Buchwalter said...

I don't know how to get a question to you so ill try this :/ my toddler is about to start therapies a couple times a week as he is showing some autistic tendencies. Thru research I found your videos on YouTube about living with an autistic spouse and I'm overwhelmed. It's almost as though you know my husband and I yet he has never been diagnosed with Anything other than adhd but the similarities are overwhelming! I am going to look into your material so I can learn how to handle it, but how do I talk to my husband about my findings without offending him?? Please I'm desperate to save my family and be who my boys need me to be :(

Angela Ruby said...

Definitely have him tested my son is 12 and for several years we werw told he had ADD but I knew there was more to it he didnt have friends liked it better to play alone cried over everything wouldnt drink out of a cup if anyone else touched it,I was so frustrated with our schools and teachers wanting me to medicate him I finally got him diagnosed at age 9 and what a releif I can finally help him even though we still struggle I understand him much better and know what to do and not do but we are learning everyday

Mary Buchwalter said...

The opposition surrounding me from family is unreal. But we are mom's! I know much boys inside and out. I called in the professionals because I knew I wasn't being who they needed me to be. I did talk to my husband and his response was "well baby that would explain why the whole time you were talking all I could think about was the oil pan on my truck, wanting to pull it off to fix it!" (He has an obsession with his truck, if something is wrong with it, that's literally ALL he can think about :/ I am doing all the research I need to become better at understanding how the autistic mind works. Last thing I want to do is lose my husband or set my baby up for failure!

My child has been rejected by his peers, ridiculed and bullied !!!

Social rejection has devastating effects in many areas of functioning. Because the Aspergers child tends to internalize how others treat him, rejection damages self-esteem and often causes anxiety and depression. As the child feels worse about himself and becomes more anxious and depressed – he performs worse, socially and intellectually. Thus, the best treatment for Aspergers children and teens is, without a doubt, “social skills training.”

Click here to read the full article…

How to Prevent Meltdowns in Aspergers Children

Meltdowns are not a pretty sight. They are somewhat like overblown temper tantrums, but unlike tantrums, meltdowns can last anywhere from ten minutes to over an hour. When it starts, the Asperger's child is totally out-of-control. When it ends, both you and the Asperger’s child are totally exhausted. But... don’t breathe a sigh of relief yet. At the least provocation, for the remainder of that day -- and sometimes into the next - the meltdown can return in full force.

Click here for the full article...

Parenting Defiant Aspergers Teens

Although Aspergers is at the milder end of the autism spectrum, the challenges parents face when disciplining a teenager with Aspergers are more difficult than they would be with an average teen. Complicated by defiant behavior, the Aspergers teen is at risk for even greater difficulties on multiple levels – unless the parents’ disciplinary techniques are tailored to their child's special needs.

Click here to read the full article…

Aspergers Children “Block-Out” Their Emotions

Parenting children with Aspergers and HFA can be a daunting task. In layman’s terms, Aspergers is a developmental disability that affects the way children develop and understand the world around them, and is directly linked to their senses and sensory processing. This means they often use certain behaviors to block out their emotions or response to pain.

Click here to read the full article…

Older Teens and Young Adult Children With Aspergers Still Living At Home

Your older teenager or young “adult child” isn’t sure what to do, and he is asking you for money every few days. How do you cut the purse strings and teach him to be independent? Parents of teens with Aspergers face many problems that other parents do not. Time is running out for teaching their adolescent how to become an independent adult. As one mother put it, "There's so little time, yet so much left to do."

Click here to read the full article…

Living with an Aspergers Spouse/Partner

Research reveals that the divorce rate for people with Aspergers is around 80%. Why so high!? The answer may be found in how the symptoms of Aspergers affect intimate relationships. People with Aspergers often find it difficult to understand others and express themselves. They may seem to lose interest in people over time, appear aloof, and are often mistaken as self-centered, vain individuals.

Click here to read the full article…

Online Parent Coaching for Parents of Asperger's Children

If you’re the parent of a child with Aspergers or High-Functioning Autism, you know it can be a struggle from time to time. Your child may be experiencing: obsessive routines; problems coping in social situations; intense tantrums and meltdowns; over-sensitivity to sounds, tastes, smells and sights; preoccupation with one subject of interest; and being overwhelmed by even the smallest of changes. The hardest part is you feel like you’ll never actually get to know your child and how he/she views the world.

Click here to read the full article...

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