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How Important is an Official Diagnosis?

“Our son is slightly quirky and eccentric. We believe it is high functioning autism or Asperger syndrome. How important is it to get a diagnosis? What things should we look at with regard to past behaviors or symptoms that may confirm he has it?”

Getting an accurate diagnosis is important in getting appropriate treatment for your son. Without an official diagnosis, he’s in limbo, legally and financially. With a diagnosis, doors to treatment open.

Your physician will be asking you for some information about your son’s past. A careful history should be obtained, including: 
  • medical and family history
  • information related to pregnancy and neonatal period
  • early development and characteristics of development

Your physician should review any previous records, including previous evaluations. The information incorporated and the results should be compared in order to obtain a sense of course of development. Also, several other specific areas should be directly examined because of their importance in the diagnosis of High-Functioning Autism (Asperger’s), including:
  • social development
  • self-concept
  • patterns of attachment of family members
  • past and present problems in social interaction
  • mood presentation
  • emotional development
  • development of motor skills, language patterns, and areas of special interest (e.g., favorite occupations, unusual skills, collections)
  • development of friendships
  • careful history of onset/recognition of the problems

Getting appropriate treatment for your son depends on having an accurate diagnosis. If your physician is reluctant to give you an official diagnosis, ask him/her why. Don't be afraid to ask for a referral to a specialist, or to a team of specialists for diagnosis. If the verdict is that your son doesn’t have High-Functioning Autism, then move on, enjoying your slightly quirky, eccentric boy. On the other hand, if the physician or specialists agree on a diagnosis, you now have a tool that will help ensure that your son receives the treatment that he needs.

Personal One-on-One "Parent Coaching" from Mark Hutten, M.A.


•    Anonymous said... A diagnosis is crucial if you want an Individual Education Plan (IEP) for him at school. Our school told us our son was on the spectrum, but they couldn't do anything officially until we had a diagnosis.
•    Anonymous said... even then the school will be difficult my daughter had a statement and they ignored it
•    Anonymous said... Even with the diagnosis my son's school still is being difficult about giving the IEP. it's been an ongoing battle. I think the diagnosis is crucial for you & your sons awareness.
•    Anonymous said... My son is not yet diagnosed but have to say the school have been fab.he shared a T.A in some lessons.he has a buddy for lunchtimes and sees a teacher after the last lesson to help with his notes for homework.i did go in a lot and said I had read this and that and surely it helps everyone if he isn't kicking off and they worked with us.good luck.
•    Anonymous said... Official diagnosis, it would appear, is entirely dependant upon funding.
•    Anonymous said... time spent obtaining a diagnosis in many cases is better spent on alternative treatment. we did GAPS and biomed, plus heaps of other stuff, and never ended up getting the diagnosis!

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Dyspraxia in Children with Asperger's and High-Functioning Autism

Dyspraxia is a disorder that affects motor skill development. Most children with Asperger’s (AS) and High-Functioning Autism (HFA) have a history of delayed acquisition of motor skills (e.g., hand writing, pedaling a bike, tying shoe laces, catching a ball, opening jars, climbing monkey-bars, etc.), which is called “motor clumsiness.”

These kids are often visibly awkward, exhibiting rigid gait patterns, odd posture, poor manipulative skills, and significant deficits in visual-motor coordination. Although this presentation contrasts with the pattern of motor development in autistic kids (for whom the area of motor skills is often a relative strength), it is similar in some respects to what is observed in older people with autism.

In this post, we will discuss the following:
  • Constructional Dyspraxia  
  • Ideational Dyspraxia  
  • Ideomotor Dyspraxia  
  • Oromotor Dyspraxia
  • Speech and language therapy
  • Perceptual motor training
  • Occupational therapy 
  • Active play Equine therapy

Click here for the full article...

The #1 Symptom Exhibited by Children with High-Functioning Autism

"In your practice, what would you say is the most common symptom shared by children with high functioning autism?"

I would say the most commonly observed symptom in High Functioning Autism involves preoccupation with restricted patterns of interest. Children with High Functioning Autism (HFA) and Asperger’s (AS) are not commonly reported to exhibit ALL of the typical symptoms associated with this disorder…

(e.g., encompassing preoccupation with one or more stereotyped and restricted patterns of interest that is abnormal either in intensity or focus; failure to develop peer relationships appropriate to developmental level; inflexible adherence to specific, nonfunctional routines or rituals; lack of social or emotional reciprocity; lack of spontaneous seeking to share enjoyment, interests, or achievements with other people; marked impairment in the use of multiple nonverbal behaviors such as eye-to-eye gaze, facial expression, body postures, and gestures to regulate social interaction; persistent preoccupation with parts of objects; stereotyped and repetitive motor mannerisms)

…with the exception of the all-absorbing preoccupation with an unusual and restricted topic, about which vast amounts of factual knowledge are acquired and all too readily demonstrated at the first opportunity in social interaction. Although the actual topic may change from time to time (e.g., every year or so), it may dominate the content of social interchange as well as the activities of HFA and AS children, often immersing the whole family in the subject for long periods of time.

Even though this symptom may not be easily recognized in childhood (because strong interests in dinosaurs or fashionable fictional characters are so common among young kids), it may become more noticeable later on as interests shift to unusual and narrow topics. This behavior is odd in the sense that extraordinary amounts of factual information are learned about very limited topics (e.g., dinosaurs, maps, names of stars, railway schedules, snakes, etc.).

The good news is that the HFA or AS child’s special interest can be used as both a learning and a social skills training tool. More on the topic of “special interests” can be found here: Children and Their Special Interests: A Good or Bad Trait?
Your article is spot on with my 20 year old Aspergers son. He has an eidetic memory for numbers and has been obsessed with math and physics for years, to the point that he taught himself all the college level math courses during high school. He is now a graduate student in mathematics focusing on number theory, as well as majoring in computer engineering. He works as a TA. He spends the rest of his time studying or with his professors, who he idolizes. They seem to have filled the spot his family used to have in his life. I feel as though I am losing touch with him. We were always very close when he was at home. We did everything together and enjoyed each others company. Now he rarely calls. I am the one who initiates phone calls a couple of times a week, but he acts resentful as though I am a bother. He will tell me everything (in detail) about his studies, but never asks about other family members even though there have been a couple major life events. He never comes home unless it is a holiday when the dorms and dining halls will be closed. We have pre- arranged to visit him, making certain it iwas a good time for him, but it ended in disaster. He was sullen, angry, and non communicative the entire day. I feel as though we are no longer relevant in his life. He seems to dread being home because we no longer have anything to offer him that he values. When he is here on break he often avoids us and refuses to communicate. I am desperate for advice on how to maintain a good relationship with our son. I miss him and want to remain a part of his life. Sorry if this is a repeat comment. It seemed like my first one didn't go through. Nancy

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

Social rejection has devastating effects in many areas of functioning. Because the ASD 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.

Click here to read the full article…

How to Prevent Meltdowns in Children on the Spectrum

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 or HFA child is totally out-of-control. When it ends, both you and your 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 Teens on the Spectrum

Although Aspergers [high-functioning autism] is at the milder end of the autism spectrum, the challenges parents face when disciplining a teenager on the spectrum are more difficult than they would be with an average teen. Complicated by defiant behavior, the 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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Older Teens and Young Adult Children with ASD 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 ASD 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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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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to read the full article...

Highly Effective Research-Based Parenting Strategies for Children with Asperger's and HFA

Become an expert in helping your child cope with his or her “out-of-control” emotions, inability to make and keep friends, stress, anger, thinking errors, and resistance to change.

Click here for the full article...