Best Way to Support a Child with possible AS or HFA?

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WEW10
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02 May 2013, 9:12 pm

Hello,

I stumbled across this website and love reading all of the insights of those on the spectrum. I'm thinking my 2.5 year old son may get a diagnosis at some point, of course our family will love him unconditionally regardless of this but for those older children and adults, what did your parents do or not do while raising you that you feel was particularly helpful or made you feel supported? I just want to make sure he always knows that we will support him in any way we can and I want to set him up for success and as much independence in life as possible. He is verbal (though he has a moderate speech/language delay-speaks in short phrases/sentences), and enjoys contact-hugging us/being hugged and shares his world with us very often, very socially aware....which is why we haven't been given a diagnosis as of yet.

Also, another question: he has a visual stim that most people don't really notice that he does with objects. For those that stim (I know we all do in one way or another), would it have been beneficial at a young age to have your parent point it out, or should I just let him do it as he pleases? It doesn't interfere with his functioning and he can stop himself. I feel at some point, if it is important enough to him, he will stop and I think this might be the best way of dealing with it.

Thank you for your time. It is sincerely appreciated.

Thank you. Any insight/suggestions are greatly appreciated.



ASDMommyASDKid
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02 May 2013, 11:08 pm

As far as the stims go, I don't point them out other then the ones that are safety issues. (Chewing on his shirt (dye and buttons--not to mention trashing the shirt) and rocking in the chair too precariously.)) I am not sure what constructive purpose it would serve to point them out. I don't want to make him self-conscious and that is the least of his social issues, so I don't worry about it. If I felt like it would make him a bully target or something, I might bring it to his attention, but right now there would be no point. I let him enjoy them.

I don't know what we do that he appreciates that we do, so I can't really answer that part of your question.



EMTkid
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03 May 2013, 7:10 am

First of all let me say how awesome it is that you have this attitude and want to look into how to help your child. I have insight to both sides here. I was raised by a seriously self-absorbed mother who assumed all my Aspie weirdness was just to spite her and her social aspirations. And also I have an 8-year-old son who we are seeking a diagnosis for. To begin with, if you point out his stims it could make him self-conscious about them. ("I'm not supposed to do this, it's wrong, people are watching me")

Also, if he develops a special interest, partake with him. With me it was superheroes when I was six or so. I remember my dad used to pretend we were superheroes when I was with him. Then Ninja turtles, then X-files agents when I was older. My special interests have always been fiction related, and at my dads I was always safe to watch Firestarter five times in a row or take a day when I did nothing but read.

While I understand the importance especially in a child, of teaching them to abide by social rules and manners and such that we don't generally comprehend well, it is also important to give him time just to be himself, not to force him to talk or to let him eat pieces of bologna with his fingers or to line up his toy cars or whatever. Pretending to function in normal society is exhausting, even to a child. Give him time to not have to live up to anything.

Also understand that some of the stuff you read in child care books does not apply the same way to him. My son, for instance, hates to eat or sleep. Typical wisdom says "Sit down and have a meal, not letting them up until they have eaten." With my son, this only leads to an hour-long battle, him being punished several times, and a miserable evening for all. And still eating only about 3 bites. So we play "pit stop" with him. His food is sitting at the table, and he has 45 minutes in which he doesn't have to sit down and eat. He can come and go as he pleases. And he will eat a lot more that way than battling to keep him at the table. Also, I tried to put him to bed at 9pm. This would generally end at 11:30 with both of us exhausted and angry, him grounded and me feeling like a failure. Finally, we had a family meeting and put a new rule into effect. 9pm is bedtime. At nine, he has to be in bed with the lights out. He can watch a movie, play his tablet, or his DS as long as he stays in bed and is quiet. On the condition that he doesn't give me any trouble getting up for school or while at school. This also has the added benefit that he tries harder to control himself at school because he doesn't want to lose that extra time he has to himself.

That's about all I have as far as advice. Well, that and just treasure your child for who he is. My son is different, but I wouldn't want him to be different for anything. He is the sweetest, most loving child I have ever met. I am so blessed in that respect. So many Aspie children won't hug you or tell you they love you. My son does multiple times a day, and often can't get close enough. But we are blessed to be parents to children who see the world just a little differently. Those are the ones who can change the world.



Ettina
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03 May 2013, 9:41 am

Well, with regards to speech delay, there is stuff you can do at home to help your son's speech development. Firstly, if you take his statements and repeat them back properly, eg if he says 'want cookie' you say 'you want a cookie?'. You can try learning a few ASL signs and using them while you talk to him, to see if he'll pick them up. Most importantly, just talk to him a lot - the more speech he hears, the better he'll learn it.

Regarding your question about stimming, just leave it be. Stimming usually serves a useful purpose. It can be a form of sensory play, or it can be something that helps the kid regulate their arousal level (too high arousal = overload, too low arousal = boredom or sleepiness). As long as it doesn't interfere with him doing other activities, stimming tends to be beneficial to a kid's functioning.

If you do point it out, do so in a friendly manner, without suggesting he should stop it. For example, when he's older and more verbal, you could try asking some questions about what he likes about the stim. Knowing what kind of stims a kid tends to do and why, in my experience, makes it easier to soothe or engage the kid. You just create an interactive activity that gives them the same sensation. (Eg one boy I knew really liked fans because of the visual effect of things moving between other things. He also liked if I flapped my hand behind a screen of some sort, such as my other hand.) Also, it can build self-awareness to have him analyze himself and see what he likes about the stim, and good self-awareness makes it easier for him to help himself.



WEW10
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03 May 2013, 2:43 pm

Thank you so much for your responses. Very helpful and insightful.



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03 May 2013, 4:58 pm

My mom understood that it takes me a really long time to do things (I have terrible executive dysfunction) and most of the time she would give me the time I needed to do things on my own, rather than rushing me, scolding me, or taking over and not letting me do things by myself. She was very patient about these things, and did her absolute best to make sure I didn't feel bad about being slow, disorganized and forgetful....for example: When she'd ask me to get something for her in another room and then have to come looking for me and whatever I was supposed to have gotten for her, because I'd forget about my task within seconds, she never got mad at me for it -- sometimes she'd just laugh (not in a mean way...in the way that's all about love and silliness and accepting imperfections) -- but she never stopped asking me to do things, either. Whenever possible, she allowed me what I can see in retrospect was tons of time for transitions between activities.

She believed me when I said "I can't," but she never stopped encouraging me to try things. She told me that it was okay that I couldn't do things that other people could do ... she told me this by the way she treated me and spoke to me -- for example by not making a big deal out of the ways I was different, and by standing up for me when others were mean or harshly judgemental of me because I wasn't whatever-they-thought-I-should-be (i.e. because of developmental lags and assorted problems with independent functioning...that people thought of as something else -- something that made me a bad person in their eyes, it seemed). She told me in words, too...and her words are important to me, but the other ways meant more.

My mom never pushed me to make friends or be more social the way other adults did, but she helped me to understand others when I eventually asked for help with people as a teenager and she always invited me to do things with others, even if 9 times out of 10 I'd say I didn't want to.

She paid attention to my sensory sensitivities -- at least the ones that were obvious -- and tried very hard to be accomodating. She would only buy me soft, loose, cotton clothes. She remembered the smells I hated and the smells I liked, and tried to accomodate me in terms of soaps and things. She tried to vacuum when I wasn't in the house, because I couldn't handle the noise of the vacuum cleaner and would have terrible meltdowns. Apparently when I was little she cut my hair and fingernails when I was sleeping, to spare us both the trauma of attempting to do so when I was awake.


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WEW10
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03 May 2013, 5:04 pm

Thank you! I love this information:). Sounds like your mom was very patient and understanding.