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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Aspergers & Associated Conditions

“Our son is diagnosed with AS. He has stomach problems, difficulty sleeping, and can’t stand loud noises of any kind. Is this part of AS, or are these totally separate issues?”

It’s very likely that these issues are part of the Aspergers (AS) condition. There are a number of concerns that often accompany a child with Aspergers and High-Functioning Autism. Here are the primary ones:

1. Fragile X syndrome is a genetic disorder and is the most common form of inherited intellectual disability, causing symptoms similar to Aspergers. The name refers to one part of the X chromosome that has a defective piece that appears pinched and fragile when viewed with a microscope. Fragile X syndrome results from a change, called a mutation, on a single gene. This mutation, in effect, turns off the gene. Some people may have only a small mutation and not show any symptoms, while others have a larger mutation and more severe symptoms. Around 1 in 3 kids who have Fragile X syndrome also meet the diagnostic criteria for Aspergers, and about 1 in 25 kids diagnosed with Aspergers have the mutation that causes Fragile X syndrome. Because this disorder is inherited, kids with Aspergers should be checked for Fragile X, especially if the mom or dad wants to have more kids. Other family members who are planning to have kids may also want to be checked for Fragile X syndrome.

2. Some moms and dads of kids with Aspergers report that their youngster has frequent gastrointestinal (GI) or digestion problems (e.g., stomach pain, diarrhea, constipation, acid reflux, vomiting, bloating, etc.). Food allergies may also cause problems for kids with Aspergers. It's unclear whether kids with Aspergers are more likely to have GI problems than typically developing kids. If your youngster has GI problems, a doctor who specializes in GI problems, called a gastroenterologist, can help find the cause and suggest appropriate treatment. Some studies have reported that kids with Aspergers seem to have more GI symptoms, but these findings may not apply to all kids with Aspergers. For example, a recent study found that kids with Aspergers in Minnesota were more likely to have physical and behavioral difficulties related to diet (e.g., lactose intolerance or insisting on certain foods), as well as constipation, than kids without Aspergers. The researchers suggested that kids with Aspergers may not have underlying GI problems, but that their behavior may create GI symptoms (e.g., a youngster who insists on eating only certain foods may not get enough fiber or fluids in his or her diet, which leads to constipation). Some moms and dads may try to put their youngster on a special diet to control Aspergers or GI symptoms. While some kids may benefit from limiting certain foods, there is no strong evidence that these special diets reduce Aspergers symptoms. If you want to try a special diet, first talk with a doctor or a nutrition expert to make sure your youngster's nutritional needs are being met.

3. Some kids with Aspergers have some degree of intellectual disability. When tested, some areas of ability may be normal, while others—especially cognitive (thinking) and language abilities—may be relatively weak (e.g., a youngster with Aspergers may do well on tasks related to sight such as putting a puzzle together, but may not do as well on language-based problem-solving tasks). However, most kids with Aspergers often have average or above-average language skills and do not show delays in cognitive ability or speech.

4. One in four kids with Aspergers has seizures, often starting either in early childhood or during the teen years. Seizures, caused by abnormal electrical activity in the brain, can result in: (a) staring spells; (b) convulsions, which are uncontrollable shaking of the whole body, or unusual movements; (c) a short-term loss of consciousness, or a blackout. Sometimes lack of sleep or a high fever can trigger a seizure. An electroencephalogram (EEG), a nonsurgical test that records electrical activity in the brain, can help confirm whether a youngster is having seizures. However, some kids with Aspergers have abnormal EEGs even if they are not having seizures. Seizures can be treated with medicines called anticonvulsants. Some seizure medicines affect behavior; changes in behavior should be closely watched in kids with Aspergers. In most cases, a doctor will use the lowest dose of medicine that works for the youngster. Anticonvulsants usually reduce the number of seizures but may not prevent all of them.

5. Many kids with Aspergers either over-react or under-react to certain sights, sounds, smells, textures, and tastes. For example, some may: (a) have no reaction to intense cold or pain; (b) experience pain from certain sounds (e.g., a vacuum cleaner, ringing telephone, sudden storm, etc.) and cover their ears and scream; (c) dislike or show discomfort from a light touch or the feel of clothes on their skin. Researchers are trying to determine if these unusual reactions are related to differences in integrating multiple types of information from the senses.

6. Kids with Aspergers tend to have problems falling asleep or staying asleep, or have other sleep problems. These problems make it harder for them to pay attention, reduce their ability to function, and lead to poor behavior. In addition, moms and dads of kids with Aspergers and sleep problems tend to report greater family stress and poorer overall health among themselves. Fortunately, sleep problems can often be treated with changes in behavior (e.g., following a sleep schedule or creating a bedtime routine). Some kids may sleep better using medications such as melatonin, which is a hormone that helps regulate the body's sleep-wake cycle. Like any medication, melatonin can have unwanted side effects. Talk to your youngster's doctor about possible risks and benefits before giving your youngster melatonin. Treating sleep problems in kids with Aspergers may improve the youngster's overall behavior and functioning, as well as relieve family stress.

7. Tuberous sclerosis is a rare genetic disorder that causes noncancerous tumors to grow in the brain and other vital organs. Tuberous sclerosis occurs in 1 to 4 percent of people with Aspergers. A genetic mutation causes the disorder, which has also been linked to mental retardation, epilepsy, and many other physical and mental health problems. There is no cure for tuberous sclerosis, but many symptoms can be treated.

8. The particularly high comorbidity with anxiety often requires special attention. One study reported that about 84 percent of Aspergers kids also met the criteria to be diagnosed with an anxiety disorder. Because of the social differences experienced by those with Aspergers (e.g., trouble initiating or maintaining a conversation, adherence to strict rituals or schedules), additional stress to any of these activities may result in feelings of anxiety, which can negatively affect multiple areas of one’s life, including school, family, and work.

Children with Aspergers may also be diagnosed with:
  • ADHD
  • Bipolar disorder
  • Obsessive compulsive disorder
  • Tourette syndrome
  • Clinical depression
  • Visual problems

20 comments:

Anonymous said...

These are totally related to AS. At least for my child they are. The stomach issues have gotten better and so have the loud noises. There is hope and it will get better!

Anonymous said...

Part of it. Have you tried glueten and dairy free diet? It works wonders on my son.

Anonymous said...

part of AS...try stopping milk before you try glutten free...much cheaper way to start out...just stopping my son from drinking milk has done wonders for his stomach issues

Neurotic Iraqi Mom said...

This all sounds very similar to my son with the one exception, he is non verbal. Are all AS kids verbal?im curious now

Anonymous said...

My Asperger kid experiences all of those. He takes 3mg of Melatonin about an hour before bed, and Zantac for reflux. He still has constipation, though. He is extremely sensitive to noise. Today he complained about the noise that the pencils make when the students in his class are writing.

Anonymous said...

My son has these issues as well. He takes Melatonin to sleep & cutting back on dairy has helped w the stomach aches. Sometimes they would be really bad if he had ice cream or a milk shake, something really rich. As he gets older, these things seem to lessen. He's 13 now.

Anonymous said...

Nutritionist here. It is common for as kids to have digestive issues dairy and gluten proteins are some of the toughest to digest. Inability to digest properly can further agrivate sensory disorders. Hard to explain. Give diet changes 2 weeks to look for change . Make change gradual as to not stress the child :)

Anonymous said...

My AS son has same issues too and it's definitely part of AS. He also takes a supplement with melatonin to help him sleep, and asks for it when he's run out so I know it's helping. He's also mostly dairy and gluten free which helps his stomach and behavior both. He feels better and therefore acts better.

Anonymous said...

Yup....hypersensitivity to bright light, sound, touch as well as seasonal allergies and severe digestive issues have always been a part of my Aspie's life. He's had sleep issues and auditory processing issues to boot. Lactose free milk helps (along with an antispasmatic med) but it would be nearly impossible to take milk away from him. He loves it and, of course, has to have it. :-) Time itself has helped out too.....as he has matured, some of his issues have really gotten better. The poor kid has said "you name it, I've got it."

Anonymous said...

We do one adult probiotic a day the serving for adults is three daily. Dollar Tree has a Relax & Sleep aid that's worked great, better than Melatonin. Although it contains melatonin, chamomile & valerian and it's $1 for 30!

Anonymous said...

I also recommend melatonin. It's helped my son a lot. We are still dealing w/ digestive problems w/ my son.

Anonymous said...

Gluten and casein (milk protein). Definitely bad stuff for AS. Especially if that's all they want to eat - its like an addiction for them. We used GF/CF diet and melatonin when our son was younger and it was a notable difference. He's 13 and no longer has trouble with these. (teenage hormones helped with a lot of this stuff, especially sleep!)

Anonymous said...

all sounds normal with a/s,mine found being milk free did help,also good multi vitamine.and yes being sensetive to loud noise,bright lights all part of it,read the tony attwood books,it helped me

Anonymous said...

My 11yr old son has always had tummy trouble, ever since he was a baby, and long before his diagnosis. He is now on Movicol as he suffers extreme constipation, but that's more due to a lack of fibre as he has a very limited diet. Sleep issues are common and he has a lot of nightmares and night terrors.

Anonymous said...

This is normal for AS. My son takes Melatonin to help him sleep, sees a pediatric gastroenterologist for stomach issues, and is highly sensitive to loud noises, bright lights, and textures.

Anonymous said...

Yes noise is a big thing, might look at Asperger's too

Anonymous said...

Oh my! My daughter has those symptoms as well! We home school her and it helps so much! Drs are not very kind at all to us and don't believe half the stuff that goes on so we record everything :-(

Anonymous said...

Our 8 year old girl has Asperger's and can be very sensitive to loud noises, really any extremes such as very hot, very cold, very windy, etc. She use to have major issues with sleeping but ever since we started playing quiet classical music at night as well as provide a small dose of Melatonin,. things have literally changed 360 and she now gets a decent sleep most nights which helps her behaviors very much the next day.

Anonymous said...

they are all part of the aspergers, my daughter has same issues. fantastic book called parents guide to children with aspergers syndrome 2nd edition by william stillman. i wud reccomend u buy it, its fantastic. so informative. answer so many of ure concerns,

Jess Poole said...

I'm only 15 and I'm trying to do research on my AS. This sounds a lot like me. My doctor told me I had AS she said I can b taught. Mother says I'm normal. But it's really hard to explain to her. She gets mad at me when I twitch. I had to get some weird shady thing put on my glasses to keep the light from my eyes but it still hurts me. I hate the loud noises they hurt the worst. Mother called my doctor crazy. If she felt what I did. Do you think she would understand ? It's hard to talk to her when I have no idea if she's mad or sad or angry or happy. I can't see emotn

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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."

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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.

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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.

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Unraveling The Mystery Behind Asperger's and High-Functioning Autism

Parents, teachers, and the general public have a lot of misconceptions of Asperger's and High-Functioning Autism. Many myths abound, and the lack of knowledge is both disturbing and harmful to kids and teens who struggle with the disorder.

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Parenting Children and Teens with High-Functioning Autism

Two traits often found in kids with High-Functioning Autism are “mind-blindness” (i.e., the inability to predict the beliefs and intentions of others) and “alexithymia” (i.e., the inability to identify and interpret emotional signals in others). These two traits reduce the youngster’s ability to empathize with peers. As a result, he or she may be perceived by adults and other children as selfish, insensitive and uncaring.

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