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

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Does Your Child Really Have Aspergers?

Question

How can I know for sure whether or not my 8-year-old son truly has Aspergers? I'm not totally convinced at this point. There is some speculation based of observations of some of his behaviors - but I still have my doubts.

Answer

A comprehensive psychiatric evaluation from a Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist who specializes in Aspergers will be able to give you a definitive answer to that question.

Aspergers has a specific set of symptoms. However, each individual with Aspergers is unique; not everyone experiences the same combination of symptoms. Below is a basic list to help you identify whether or not your son has Aspergers-related symptoms:

Cognitive and Motor Skill Impairments—

Cognitive and motor skill problems are common in Aspergers. Typical cognitive and motor skill issues include:

• Difficulty with imaginative play: The Aspie does not engage in imaginative play as a child.
• Learns best visually: She has trouble learning without visual aids.
• Mindblindness: She has mindblindness, meaning she cannot determine what others are thinking and feeling in social situations or in relationships.
• Organizational skills difficulties: The Aspie experiences difficulty with planning, implementing and completing tasks.
• Problems with coordination: She may have problems with both fine and gross motor skills. Common examples of motor skill difficulty include bike riding, handwriting and playing ball games.
• Problem-solving issues: She has trouble figuring out how to solve problems outside of her routine.

Communication Problems—

An Aspie experiences a number of communication difficulties. Communication problems can include the following symptoms:

• Easily distracted: The Aspie has trouble concentrating her attention on people and objects that are not connected with her favorite subjects.
• Eye contact: He may not make eye contact.
• Facial expression: Facial expressions are either absent or inappropriate to the conversation or situation. She may have facial tics.
• Monotone speech: He may speak in a monotone voice, without expression or emotion.
• Personal space issues: He might stand too close to a person during conversation.
• Unusual gestures: The Aspie might make unusual or inappropriate gestures during conversation.

Language Skill Challenges—

An Aspie generally has a large vocabulary, but experiences problems with language processing. Language skills challenges may include:

• Difficulty processing language: The Aspie does not always understand the verbal speech of others or misunderstands the meaning of a conversation. He may have trouble making a decision or answering a question.
• Language rituals: He might have certain word scripts that he repeats ritualistically in conversation with others.
• Literal interpretation of words: The Aspie interprets most language on a literal level and misses abstract meanings.
• Trouble with language use: He has trouble using language appropriately in social situations. He may also misunderstand common word meanings.
• Unusual use of words: He may use words in an unusual way or create her own words.

Limited Interests and Unusual Behavior—

An Aspie often has a limited range of interest and may exhibit bizarre behavior. Interests and behavior may include:

• Narrow range of interests and obsessions: The Aspie is intensely interested in a small number of activities and subjects and refuses to engage in other activities.
• Self-stimulatory behavior: He may engage in stimming behavior such as hand flapping, rocking back and forth or twirling.
• Strict schedule: He prefers a rigid schedule and experiences anxiety when the schedule is interrupted.

Sensory Input Issues—

Many Aspies have sensory difficulties and may have unusual reactions to certain sights, smells, sounds or tastes. Sensory problems include:

• Limited food choices: The Aspie may choose and reject foods based upon smell or texture.
• Odors: She may react strongly to certain smells.
• Sounds: She might be hypersensitive to different sounds.
• Touch: The Aspie may not want to be touched.

Social Interaction Difficulties—

An Aspie may have difficulty with the following features of social interaction:

• Difficulty playing with others: The Aspie may not understand how to initiate play with his peers or how to play by common social rules. For example, he may take a ball from a group of children playing a game without asking to join the game first. He will not return the ball if they ask for the ball back because he does not understand the negative reaction.
• General social skills: He wants to socialize with others,, but does not understand how to interact.
• Inability to understand common social cues: The Aspie may not comprehend common social cues such as facial expressions, body language or gestures.
• Inappropriate responses: He may behave or respond to social situations in an unusual or inappropriate manner. For example, he/she may laugh at something sad.
• Problems with two-way conversation: He has trouble with initiating and maintaining a two-way conversation. He may appear to “talk at” someone rather than “with” them. Conversation topics may focus on an obsessive interest. He speaks inappropriately such as talking too loudly or softly.
• Relating to others: The Aspie does not understand other's emotions or social responses accurately in a group situation. He may not understand if an activity or conversation is boring or upsetting to another person.
• Rigid range of interests for social interaction: He will only engage in a narrow range of activities or talk about certain subjects.

The Aspergers list above can help you recognize common symptoms of Aspergers. If you believe that your youngster or teenager has this disorder, contact your pediatrician for an Aspergers screening. Early intervention provides the best chance for your son or daughter to live a healthy and fulfilling life.

The Aspergers Comprehensive Handbook

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

This is a great example of the diversity of the Asperger’s community. I have a 9 year old son who is diagnosed with Asperger’s, and while there seems to be some core tendencies there, also seems to be quite a few variables. My son loves to hug and be hugged, but doesn’t like to hold hands. I have taken the self evaluation on this website and scored a 30, which means I have some tendencies as well (I collect things to the extreme, am terrible with money, and love to read encyclopedias). I can’t remember anyone’s name, but I could tell you the Latin name of virtually every one of the 300+ plants in my yard (one of my collecting obsessions).

Back to my son….he also has a few more autistic tendencies than I see in other Asperger kids, mainly his stimming activities. He is however extremely intelligent and is doing great grade wise in school. That is mainly due to the diligence of my wife who not only spends time with him in the classroom (along with 4 resource teachers and a speech therapist), but also at home….not cutting him any slack when it comes to his homework.

His teacher in third grade brought his behavior to our attention (although the teacher assumed it was ADHD). My wife and I had been trying to determine why clumps of his hair were falling out at the same time he was having issues at school. His stimming activity at the time is what I called finger flipping. I Googled it and found a YouTube video with a child doing the same exact thing. The parent who posted it said their son was diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome (which lead us to get professional help). After we got the diagnosis, we were able to figure out why he was losing his hair. Up until that point, we all (including his teacher) were trying to stop the stimming, which ending up causing him a lot of stress, enter alopecia areata.

Now that we know, we do not try to stop the stimming, but try to redirect him to do it in areas other than in public. Since we have done this, his hair grew back and there have been no new outbreaks of alopecia areata. Not only do I see some of the attributes in myself, but also in my older son and daughter (both of which I believe were misdiagnosed with ADD & bipolar disorder respectively). As far as a link to immunizations, I feel that is very improbable. Eccentric behavior (like that exhibited by Aspie’s and high functioning Autistics) has been around a lot longer than vaccines.

There is a lot of information out there these days about Asperger’s, but the biggest challenge is getting the help for your child that he or she may need. Fortunately, we live in a school district that has offered more assistance than what most others will fight you on. We feel blessed to have an Aspie in our life.

Anonymous said...

I was told the other day my grandson has Aspergers and I do not know enough about it to know if this really what he has. He is 3 years old and the only things he say is momma , dadda, nanna, spongebob. He still drulle like an infant and he will not let you touch him. He will crawl up in you lap and sit as lomg as you do not touch him, and when you do he screams like you had pinched him or something. He throws really bad temper tantrums, throwing chairs and slaming doors , and hitting other children. He has walked to fridge and he will open the door and close it over and over and over. I just want to know how I can help him .

Anonymous said...

Hi Everyone, I am new to this group. My son was diagnosed with high functioning autism/PDD-NOS just over a year ago. He is now 4 years old. Over the last year I personally feel like I have surfed on a wave of emotions from protectiveness, to celebrating his strengths, to frustration with his challenges, to confusion/fear for his future, to being overwhelmed and consumed with makeing the right choices for him. Anyway, I am finally feeling at the point of wanting to reach out to other parents who may be in a similar situation as us. I realize that every child is different, but I am hoping to hear from other moms (or dads!) who have children that are a little bit older about what life has been like for them. Success stories are greatly appreciated! :)

Also, a more specific question: My son, David, does a lot of visual stiming, especially when overwhelmed. We have noticed that this behavior has really ramped up in the last month and are working to figure out why. I'm wondering if others have kiddos who are visual stimers and, if so, what has helped? Also, have you noticed that as your child got older and was more aware of their feelings they were able to self-regulate and that visual stiming decreased?

Jaclyn Schauer said...

I wish there was a way to contact you or your wife rather to talk and get advice from? I'm kind of lost and honestly have been in denial for several years about my son and his possible disability.

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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