Is it possible to have an affectionate AS kid?

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michi
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02 Jul 2010, 3:58 pm

Yes - my 6-year-old son with HFA is extremely affectionate. Lots of hugs and cuddles.



pennywisezzz
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08 Jul 2010, 9:31 pm

My 8 year old daughter is overly affectionate and has trouble understanding others personal space. It has got better with therapy and constant reminders. These days I can take her grocery shopping without her randomly hugging a complete stranger for no apparent reason... :roll: For a while she resorted to giving complements instead. It was always sweet to see the happiness it would bring to peoples faces to get an unexpected hug or complement from a little kid. So many times a person would say "That was EXACTLY what I needed! You just made my day!" or "I've been having a horrible day and you just made it all better." But, as sweet as it was, it made everyday things like grocery shopping take longer and I worried also that as she got older it would turn from something "cute" to something "weird". I guess I never quite understood her need to do it as I am not a huggy person (except towards my daughter). But I guess it was her naturally loving spirit that wanted to reach out to people but she needed to be taught more appropriate ways to show her affection towards others. For example, even though you love your friends, you should sit NEXT to them and not so close that you are ON them, lol.

She is a cosleeper as well (sleeps in my bed with me). She loves to be massaged at night and when she was younger it was one of the only ways to get her to settle down to sleep. She loves a really light touch with just your fingertips. She loves to be hugged and kissed, both initiated or uninitiated. The only thing with her is she doesn't like people messing with her hair and she does not like to be picked up without warning as it scares her and she says it hurts her stomach.

So yeah, it's possible - but from what I've been told it's just not the "norm".



mrmagick
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05 Nov 2013, 4:58 pm

So it seems that the consensus of opinion on this is that AS kids can be physically affectionate, but that it is not typical of AS and that it may not be as much about expressing emotion as it is about seeking physical stimulation. I find it very interesting because my 7 year old son shows some of the classical signs of AS but shows other behavior that isn't typical. For instance he is very affectionate. He also looks my and his mother in the eyes when we speak to him, and in fact demands that we look at him when we talk to him. With strangers and people he is less familiar with (like school teachers and other adults) his doesn't initiate eye contact. He is very emotional, he has fits of laughter and seems to be very happy. He also seems to show empathy for others when they are sad or have hurt themselves. Some of his behavior that is more typical of AS is that he doesn't initiate contact with others. He don't really ask questions at all. He is talkative but likes to speak in repeating patters of phrases that he has heard on tv or from computer games and videos. He isn't interested in playing with other children, unless they are younger than him. He is more comfortable playing with 3 and 4 year old children. He reads at a 2nd grade reading level and is very talented musically as well as figuring out complex puzzles. He can spend hours in front of the computer doing stick figure animations or using photoshop (both of which he taught himself to do by watching youtube videos) and loves to draw the same characters over and over. When he is excited he likes to jump up and down, which he does frequently when he is watching videos he enjoys.

It is quite confusing for both myself and my wife. We really love our son and believe that he is fine just the way he is, yet we get advice from friends, family and teachers that he needs special help with his lack of attention and focus that is apparent when he is in a classroom setting.

My question is this, what do we really know about Autism and Asperger's? Why is it considered a disability? My ex wife's son was diagnosed with AS and constantly had behavior problem when he attended school, yet now that he is grown to adulthood, he doesn't seem to exhibit any of the strange (visible) behaviors he did when he was a child. Could it be that autism and asperger's are really just a symptom of our children reacting in frustration to an educational system that no longer works? As I said earlier, my son teaches himself by watching youtube. He has taught himself how to play the piano, how to use photoshop, how to do cell animation and how to cook. These are what he is interested in right now. He can read very well but shows little interest in reading books of his own accord. He likes being read to but enjoys watching videos or playing games much more so. He is very gifted in recognizing and manipulating geometric shapes, but seems to struggle with and actively dislike basic arithmetic.

I would love to hear some of the experiences of others parents who have children that, while they are definitely not typical of how most other children behave, are also not typical of how AS or Autistic children are thought to behave.



ASDMommyASDKid
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05 Nov 2013, 6:15 pm

If you are wondering how it manifests in school, I would pop in and observe, if that is at all feasible. Yes, your presence will change everyone's behavior (your kid's, the teacher's, the other kids etc.)but you will get a better idea than if you solely rely on the reports of others.

Whenever you tell people about a diagnosis like AS, you are bound to get a lot of (unsolicited) advice from people who have varying levels of knowledge and insight. Weigh it all accordingly, feeling free to ignore what people say, if it seems stupid (much of it will be stupid) but try to remain open to information that might be helpful.

As far as why it is defined as a disability, it is (sort of) circular. You won't get a diagnosis unless there is clinical evidence that AS manifests in a way that is somewhat disabling. If you are milder than that (or just not properly diagnosed) then you just get to go on your merry, quirky way.

So, for example, if you have communication deficits that are sufficiently disabling (communication is an important functional skill when dealing with other humans) then well, yeah, it is a disability.

Are some environments/circumstances more apt to push the symptoms into disabling territory? Absolutely. Generally, to get a diagnosis they want to see the that symptoms are disabling in multiple environments. Of course, even if it does happen in one environment like school (or work) there are clearly going to be problems.

While I (kind of reluctantly) acknowledge that AS can indeed be disabling and is not necessarily ust a matter of being quirky it doesn't imply being less valuable or even disabled in a more global sense. You can still be successful, and still be happy, but it is much harder.



Loulamai
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05 Nov 2013, 7:22 pm

My son is overly affectionate, he's gotten in trouble at school for hugging teachers, and we had to talk to him about appropriate kissing because he'd walk up to people and kiss what he could reach, so when he was butt height, it was awkward. He needs physical reassurance when he thinks he's done something wrong also.



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05 Nov 2013, 7:39 pm

My son who has aspergers is one of THE MOST affectionate people I have ever met. he can not get enough hugs, kisses and snuggles, and loves to sit in laps. He is 8 an is super affectionate!


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MiahClone
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05 Nov 2013, 7:52 pm

mrmagick wrote:
I would love to hear some of the experiences of others parents who have children that, while they are definitely not typical of how most other children behave, are also not typical of how AS or Autistic children are thought to behave.


My oldest is diagnosed HFA. He has a history of moderately severe developmental delays, but progressed very well with early intervention. He does well in any setting where he gets focused 1:1 or very low ratio attention. He has several times tested out of PT (he's out right now), and a couple of times tested out of OT (he's going back in right now), basically he doesn't progress in physical skills (or any other skills really) without explicit instruction, but with it, he does quite well and progresses. I don't know if this is typical or not, but I feel like it isn't. He's always been very affectionate. We had a heck of a time teaching him to respect other people's personal space and to not hug, lean on, etc random people. Not sharing every detail of our life story to random strangers took longer. Old folks have always LOVED having him around, because he has been perfectly willing to come right up to them and chatter away even if it's the first time he's met them. He's sweet. It is kind of funny, but I am pretty sure that every single evaluation and verbal report that I have ever gotten on him from the time he was 2 to past 13 1/2 has included the word sweet in it somewhere. And he really is.

Of course, now that he is in Junior High, it is most definitely out of the ordinary that the predominate description of him is "He's such a sweet boy!" The average person meeting him would probably not notice anything at all unusual about him, except possibly prosody issues, but I have found that even when he is talking WAY too loud or running his words together such that even I can't understand him, that very few people will act like they notice. He has never had a lot of obvious stims, and none of the stereotypical ones, except limited hand flapping and spinning as a preschooler. He does have some, but they are hard to notice--shuffling his feet is one. He can't be stopped once a thought starts to come out of his mouth. Even if everyone leaves the room, he keeps talking until he gets to the end of what he was saying. He collects Marvel superhero toys and can tell you when they were manufactured, by what company, how many other models there are out there, and how the ones that he has differ from the others (which I think is very cool, but unfortunately not very marketable).

Those are really just quirky things. We pursued the diagnosis because he still has significant delays in fine motor areas, he's gullible in the extreme, and his processing speed is so much slower than the average person's. He understands instructions slowly, thinks slowly, reacts slowly, formulates a plan slowly (and with no ability to prioritize and a good deal of distractibility although these things I think will improve with training), and then moves slowly to carry out the plan. His IQ is in the normal range, he just operates at a different speed than everyone else. He understands higher level concepts, but can only cope with resource classes, because there just isn't time to slowly absorb the info in mainstream classes. For him it is like the whole world is on fast forward around him. If he found the right employer who accepted his need to know all the details up front, his odd social skills, and his slow speed (because he'll keep plodding along with detailed work where the average person would be bored to tears) then they'd have a lifelong, loyal employee.

As his mom, however, I seriously worry in this day and age that he'll never make the right connection with the right boss. So when after years of therapy, this speed issue hasn't improved even a little bit (in fact is more obvious the older he gets) we pursued the diagnosis and got the developmental disability paper trail going for him. I think PDD-NOS might have been a better fit--the restricted and repetitive behaviors section was a stretch, I think. I am glad they went with HFA though, since the manual was going to change in a few months, and now he has the right term for insurances under the new manual.

I don't know that the processing thing is at all typical of autism, but that is the thing that is most likely to keep him labeled as disabled unless he gets very lucky. He is a good helper though. The local Mennonite group loves him, because he'll work right along without complaining, and they don't mind giving instructions as if he is was a younger kid, because they are used to working with kids of all ages. Maybe he'll be able to find at least part time work with them when he's older. I don't know.



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06 Nov 2013, 12:57 am

My ASD son is, and has always been, extremely affectionate.

What he can't do it make it reciprocal, reading when others would - or would not - want it.

He is basically a sensory seeker when it comes to touch in every single way.


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06 Nov 2013, 10:32 am

It's ENTIRELY possible.

I don't know if it was the way my AS manifested or my grandmother's training, but I was extremely affectionate. Almost TOO affectionate-- if I hadn't already been depressed and withdrawn by the time I got to elementary school, it would have been a problem. I can remember other kids getting violent with me-- kicking or punching or shoving, hard-- because I would get in their faces trying to comfort them when they were upset. To this day I do not sleep well alone-- I would much rather be cuddled up to my husband's back (or better yet in a dog pile with my kids).

My dad was also extremely affectionate and demonstrative. He also tended to make people-- even me-- uncomfortable by being over-the-top.

My grandpa and aunt on my mom's side-- who I also suspect were/are on the spectrum, but really can't verify-- are the other way: Very rigid, very unaffectionate, very non-demonstrative. My aunt can at least look in your general direction and say, "I love my kids, but..." though I do not think the words "I love you" could pass her lips if someone held a gun to her head and told her to say it or die. Grandpa never got that far-- we knew he loved us because he brought his paycheck home, and helped us do projects and things around the house, and worried constantly.

One night when I was a small child (and he was on a LOT of Xanax and going to therapy several times a week), I chirped, "Love you, Pappy." This was a nightly ritual; none of us ever expected any reciprocation. His face contorted up; with great effort, he managed to choke out, "Yeah, you too." I went upstairs and told Grandma what he'd said-- and she literally fell on her knees sobbing praises to God for the miracle. NOT KIDDING.

Don't let that make you think Grandpa wasn't a good man-- he was one of the finest. He had quite a few comorbids and a BOATLOAD of collateral damage, but he was a damn good man. Neighbors STILL tell me stories about wonderful things he did for them, even if they can't help appending that he was always "gruff and so darn strange." He was beloved by his church-- he was the longest-standing trustee and would have been a deacon if it would have been considered socially appropriate at that time and in that place. I have NEVER, in all my 35 years, seen so many people turn out for a funeral; there were so many well-wishers (in two towns, on both sides of the Catholic/Protestant divide) that we had to have two services.

Anyway-- YES, it is perfectly possible to have an affectionate Aspie. It's perfectly possible to have an unaffectionate Aspie and and affectionate Aspie in the same family. I think there are multiple genetic coding "errors," (if we have to call them errors) that manifest as autism, and it just depends on the error and the upbringing-- and you could very realistically have learned lessons with the first child that just kind of got de facto applied to the second one. Shazam-- different result.


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bookwyrm
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06 Nov 2013, 5:12 pm

I have both an affectionate son with autism and one with Aspergers. Its my NT son that refused to hug me for years because it was uncool :roll:



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07 Nov 2013, 11:17 pm

Yes.

My AS son is very affectionate with his parents and one grandparent.

I also have Aspergers and am less affectionate. I did not tolerate being touched as a child.


(And yes, these differences cause problems in our lives!)



ASDsmom
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10 Nov 2013, 7:51 pm

My son is affectionate.



JSBACHlover
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14 Nov 2013, 6:08 pm

I was affectionate and sought affection, unless I was listening to my music or playing with my blocks.



Kisster
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17 Nov 2013, 9:30 am

Aimless wrote:
My AS son is affectionate with me but only with me. When relatives wanted to hug him he used to turn around and back into the hug. Now if he's feeling down he'll ask me for one.


My daughter has always been affectionate with me, and has become more affectionate with my husband in the last few years. She also backs into hugs with everyone else, which is usually other family members that we are forcing her to hug. But, the school has reported that she has spontaneously hugged her special ed teacher and one of her aides.

She has also recently started spontaneously saying "I Love You" to me. So yes, I think that some with ASD can be affectionate.