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TheColonel
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12 Feb 2009, 3:33 pm

Here we go.

Our son was diagnosed with Asperger's and ADHD a few weeks ago. He's 5 and in kindergarten at a small private Catholic School (we're not Catholic...we just like the idea of a small private school). We noticed odd behaviors when he was only a few months old. In some respects the diagnosis was a relief - at least now we know - but now we're in that horrible place of learning about this terrifying "thing" (disorder, syndrome, whatever), watching him get worse, and desperately trying to get him help.

Just because I have no one to talk to other than my wife, I though I'd summarize some of the stuff we're dealing with in case anyone feels like empathizing...

- School is a disaster. We already pulled him out of one school and stuck him in another. The only reason the new school hasn't kicked him out is because, well, I don't really know. He hates it. The teachers are nice but totally unable to deal with him. The other kids look at him as either a source of amusement or annoyance. He cries when we wake him up and won't talk to us after we pick him up. I think we're all (mostly his teachers) just crossing our fingers that once he starts on medication things will drastically improve. They know the situation but still can't control him. We've asked them to stop reprimanding him for behavior he can't help. Redirect. Positive reinforcement. Blah blah blah. So now when he spits on the other kids or pushes or walks out of the bathroom with his pants around his ankles, they don't reprimand him. They just SEND HIM HOME in the middle of class. "Sorry, he's just too disruptive."

- We're in this awful waiting period, waiting for this particular Pediatrician to evaluate him. She's the foremost expert in our area, so we've been advised to tough it out. Two more weeks to go. Some have suggested we try to get his regular pediatrician to do something in the meantime. She's willing but clueless. At this point we know as much about diet and medication as she does.

- We're learning about the GFCF diets. Sounds great but also just another nightmare to add to this one. The kid eats virtually nothing as it is. Hates everything but sugar, which is like crack for him. We've done our best to cut out sugar, but it's hard to maintain and I'm not sure it's doing any good anyway. We're going to TRY to start the GFCF diet this week, even though we still haven't seen the aforementioned specialist yet. At this point we're just desperate to try something, anything.

- His sleeping is still awful. Nightmares 2-3 times a week, yells out in his sleep regularly. Night terrors probably once a month.

- The obsessions are a blessing and a curse. On one hand it's nice that he'll stay in his room and stare at his record player for an hour. On the other hand, hey, my kid is STARING at a RECORD PLAYER for an HOUR. He'll just stand there, sucking his thumb, staring at the record going round and round and round. Sometimes I just smile, sometimes I want to take a sledge hammer to the thing. It's the same story with volcanoes (lava), the peddles on his bike (God forbid he actually rides the thing, which he actually can do fine), the lights on the front of trains, etc., etc.

- The social interaction is probably the worst part. Up until this year we could always just shrug it off as, "Hey, he's just a little kid. Little kids are weird." But now that he's in kindergarten the other kids are making these quantum leaps in socialization. They're becoming buddies. They greet each other in the morning, run off to their little places, whisper, giggle, tackle each other. Not my son. He pulls me into his classroom every morning, "Hey dad, come see my favorite thing!." Then we get to stare at some picture of a bug in some book. The same picture. Every morning. He looks at the book. I look at the children looking at the weird kid in their class. I look at the teachers giving me that, "Gee, it must be hard" look, and even though I know they're trying, he's making their jobs incredibly difficult and they're going to take giant relieved breaths when we finally pull him out.

Today in particular was a real treat. A while back I helped my son do a collage for his classroom. It's supposed to contain pictures of family, activities, vacations, etc. He's obsessed with cakes, so of course we had include a picture of him with his birthday cake on his 5th birthday. Now, having the atrocious fine motor skills that he does, we were still putting bibs on him when he turned five. Otherwise his clothes looked like a Jackson Pollack painting after every meal. So, of course, he's wearing a bib in this photo of him blowing out the cake. I tried everything I could think of to NOT include this photo. I even cut the cake out all by itself.

"Hey, let's just show them the cake!"
"No, Dad, I want the whole picture."

So I relented and we did. Seriously, who's going to notice anyway? You can barely see it. It's 70% blocked by a giant chocolate cake.

But this morning, when I dropped him off and we were staring at the picture of the bug together, two of his classmates ran up to us holding his photo collage.

"Hey, can we show you something?" they asked me. At first I was excited. Maybe these kids like my son's collage. Maybe they like my son!

"Why is he wearing a bib?" they asked, pointing right to the photo I had worked so hard to camoflage amongst the two dozen other photos of him surfing, climbing rocks, and all the other activities I figured would be a thousand times more interesting. My son just continued staring at his bug book. I hummed and hawed, totally caught off guard.

"Um, is that a bib? I don't think that's a bib." Pathetic. They were undeterred.

"Why is he wearing a bib? IS HE A BABY?" They laughed and ran off. I was floored. Speechless and flustered. My son didn't even know he'd been teased. Better yet, teased in front of his father who not only could not defend him but was the cause of the tease in the first place. Why did we put a bib on him on his 5th birthday? Why did I let him put it in the collage? Why didn't I take those two little brats and snap them over my knee?

So I just kissed him goodbye, walked to my car, and broke my cell phone into 30 pieces.

Looking forward to another 13 years of this. Or better yet, maybe he'll never leave home and we can do this for another 50.

"At least he doesn't have cancer." Funny, that phrase doesn't work anymore either.



DW_a_mom
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12 Feb 2009, 4:57 pm

ok. Time for perspective.

There is nothing THAT wrong with a 5 year old wearing a bid. There IS something THAT wrong with kids who are allowed to laugh about it and call him a baby.

Often it is the fine motor skill issues that are the most visible area of real disability. Much of the other differences are, well, just different, and can quite well be gifts. But your child has a fine motor skill co-morbid, as mine does, it is truly a disability.

And no one should be laughed at for having a disability.

Would you allow kids to laugh at a child in a wheel chair. NO.

And who could be happy in an environment where being one's normal self is laughed at? NO ONE. Should it surprise you, then, that he isn't happy going to school?

The thing is, none of these problems need to be problems. At my son's elementary school, this sort of stuff was swiftly dealt with and by the time my son hit 5th grade all the kids were able to clearly see his gifts and forgive his quirks. It was hilarious to discover a group of younger kids that followed him around basically acting like groupies, they admired his gifts THAT much (he invents games, that his big thing). And he had friends. No enemies. No one teasing him.

Does it break my heart to see his illegible chart up on the wall with all the other pretty and neat ones? Yes. It's hard for me. I wish he didn't have that disability. But nothing is hid and nothing is teased and he is THRIVING. I'm the one who has to let go, and not be embarassed if other parents see how pathetic his writing and spelling are. It isn't holding HIM back; he just started writing a novel. Seriously - he's on the third chapter of a novel.

Medications aren't going to change the core of who HE is. The ONLY thing it can do is help him think clearer. He's still going to have motor skill issues and he's still going to have very different interests than other kids. But those things can and should be ACCEPTED. By you, by the other kids, by the teachers.

Diagnosis isn't going to give you a magic bullet, either, but it will help you understand him. No doubt he has many sensory issues, and you need to figure those out so you can help him deal with them. Identify and mitigate. You can't change him, but you CAN make the environment he lives in more suitable to his needs. When you do, you will see a world of difference.

As for motor skills, you should check out the possible co-morbids like hypo-tonia, hypo-mobility, and disgraphia. This will help you determine therapy needs (usually OT) and develope a long term coping plan.

The diet ... some find it helps clear their thinking, others not. I've always put it in the "can't hurt to try" category, but we've never had the discipline to do it in our household. I don't honestly think it would make much difference; my son doesn't have the issues that members here have reported it helping (clearer thinking, less GI discomfort, mostly).

I'd write more but I've got to run; time to get my son from school. Just, really, start looking at this all in a different way. That is the best place for you to start, IMHO.


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DW_a_mom
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12 Feb 2009, 7:04 pm

I"m back.

Although maybe you are tired of hearing from me already .... ?

First, kind of a fun thing. And then I'll get more practical. You talk about your son enjoying staring at the record player. Have you ever asked him what he sees? Sometimes these kids see the most interesting things that we would never think to notice. They don't tell us possibly because they've already figured out that we don't see those things, and might criticize them. But if you can engage in that with your child, you just might see the world in a new way. I remember an adult on another AS forum posting about one of his favorite memories, a certain brick wall at his grandfather's house. He loved staring at that wall. Why? He saw people in it, each arrangemet of 6 blocks forming a head, arms, body and legs. He would then count the people on the wall. All of them.

AS kids see what we don't and hear what we don't and feel wha t we don't. You may tune out the flush of a toilet; they might find it a terrifying roar. You may see no difference between one type of orange and another; they might be explain it in detail, including all the small taste variances. You may not notice when the heat register in your house turns on; your child might, and it could be something he loves - or something he finds scary. And so on. Most of these kids are full of senses turned on high volume.

One of the most practical and useful things you can do as a parent is see the world the way your child does. Find what his sensory sensitivities are, and honor them. Until that input has been mitigated, it can be really difficult for your child to focus on virtually anything else. And be aware that just because he likes something does not mean he can deal with it; my son was always drawn to crowds, but it also consistently led to sensory overload. It made a huge difference for all of us once I figured that out.

I believe that the single most important thing you can do as a parent is to take the time to TUNE INTO YOUR CHILD. Understand how he perceives things, understand how certain small things may really frighten him, understand how he perceives textures, and so on. Then honor those sensitivities. Once they are safely removed from his life, he will be able to develop in his own time and at his own pace, and eventually overcome many of the same issues. But he needs to be safe from them first.

Understand that school is a guantlet of sensory overstimulation for most AS kids. The other children are loud and unpredictable. They run and are frightening. They tease. The teacher needs to be loud to be heard. The room is full of obstacles and new textures, objects, and visuals. Singing as a class may literally hurt your child's ears. Smells at lunch may be overwhelming. And so on. Depending on his particular sensory issues, he may be on overload the entire time, and unable to cope. These issues are very real for AS kids; the entire environment of school is just "too much."

You need to see that and understand that before you can help your child through it.

My son went through phases of being terrified of public flush toilets, of being unable to bear the noises in an assembly, and so on. By protecting him from these things, he learned to cope with them. His own time, his own way. Don't be afraid to mitigate the sensory input on the grounds that doing so isn't "real life." You can't throw an AS child into the deep end and expect him to learn to swim; AS brains don't work like that. They need to be freed of the outside disturbances first.

And that will take a bit of detective work on your part. Becoming sensitive to that slight change in his eyes that indicates he has seen something bothersome. Or that slight tensing in his hands. Or how he might wind up when he's been overstimulated. And how exposure to A might not result in anything noticable until he runs into B. You have to KNOW YOUR CHILD, and on a very subtle level.

I am sure your son is an amazing child just waiting for someone to understand him. I know my son is. His mind is alive in ways I could never have imagined; he wants to be an inventor and everyone who has ever met him is sure he will end up being one. He has things to overcome in order to get through school and in order to function in the world as it exists, but he IS getting through those things. His is amazingly bright and unique, but he needs to develop in his own unique way, and not be forced to endure sounds and sensory input that agitate him. He needs to be guided and channeled, and he needs to be protected from mean spirited people who aren't willing to take the time to see his gifts, and will cut him down instead. When we do that, he thrives and has much to give out to the world. When we don't, he retreats and withdraws inside.

And, finally, ADHD .... Be aware that many AS kids are missdiagnosed as having ADHD when they do not. This may or may not be true for your child, just pay attention. True ADHD never turns off. The mind is always in several places at once. AS kids with extreme sensory issues, however, can appear ADHD when their minds wander in response to sensory stimuli. Real ADHD is INTERNAL; medications are designed to adjust the brain accordingly. But if your child is agitated because of SENSORY issues, it looks like ADHD, but it isn't, because the problem is EXTERNAL, not INTERNAL, and medications will do pretty much nothing. The only way to get your child calm and focused would be to remove the sensory stimulation.

You may well need to deal with it all: an internal mind jumping issue, AND an external sensory issue. But I STRONGLY believe in working the sensory issues FIRST, and treating for ADHD LATER, if mitigating the sensory issues hasn't solved the problem. This gives you the best chance at properly identifying the sensory components. If you do treat first and don't notice a postiive result, consider that there isn't ADHD at all, but sensory issues.

Think about it: why is a child who has ADHD able to stare at a record player for an hour?

OK, I'm done rambling. I could write a book, but I think you've got enough to chew over already.

Stay positive and tuned in. We have amazing kids. We really do.


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Katie_WPG
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12 Feb 2009, 7:38 pm

TheColonel wrote:

Looking forward to another 13 years of this. Or better yet, maybe he'll never leave home and we can do this for another 50.

"At least he doesn't have cancer." Funny, that phrase doesn't work anymore either.


Well, if you keep on with THAT attitude, then he won't improve.

You say that you're concerned about it getting worse, but Asperger's tends to improve with age.

Simply put, if you treat him like he's incapable, then he will become incapable. Treat him like you would any other kid, and he will eventually begin to "get it". Set standards high, and he will acheive. Self-fulfilling prophesy.



TheColonel
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12 Feb 2009, 9:57 pm

DW_A_Mom, that was, hands down, the most unique, interesting thing I've heard since the day we started down this path. Seriously. I'm not sure what kind of feedback/advice I expected on this board - if any - but that knocked my socks off. I'm going to share it with my wife as soon as I get home.

I did hear a great quote in, of all things, a surf movie about a young Hawaiian named Clay Marzo. Clay is a hot up-and-comer who many think could be a future world champ and also happens to have A.S. One of the doctors in LA who diagnosed him said, "People who have Asperger's don't have a problem. The PROBLEM is OTHER PEOPLE." At first I thought that was some kind of clever soundbite that sounded good but didn't really mean anything substantial, but I think I'm starting to get it now.

One of the things we talk about all the time is that the biggest problems in our son's life are all external: school, the kids in the neighborhood, our reactions to the things he does that we perceive as "weird." Minus the negative input he gets, he's an incredibly curious, outgoing, HAPPY kid. As a parent of three little kids (two of which - the girls - are Nancy Drew normal) I am never happier than I am with him at the beach or going on hikes or camping or in any environment where he can be free, do what he wants, and just be himself. He is a delight.

I guess that's why we've found it so brutal watching him get squashed at school. The OTHER PEOPLE are starting to become a problem, and it affects the way WE react to him, which is terrible, I know. It's like, I see him staring at the record player, and if I was the only person who ever had to see him do that, no prob. But now I see it and I think, "s**t, he's going to do that in class or at some kid's house, and then the teasing/bullying will start." So we start thinking, "Okay, how do we stop that?" And, lo and behold, now we've become OTHER PEOPLE.

Anyhow, you obviously know what we're going through. The change in perspective has to start with us, and your perspective is fantastic. Honestly, it never occurred to me he might be seeing something we don't see on that black vinyl. I do know that he has absolutely incredible vision...maybe that's part of it. When he was a toddler we used to joke that if he said he saw something, not matter how unlikely, he was telling the truth. We called him Eagle Eye.

"Daddy, I see da moon."
"No you don't. It's 1 in the afternoon and we're in downtown San Francisco surrounded by skyscrapers."

Then, sure enough, a few minutes later, we'd spot a tiny sliver of afternoon moon, practically invisible, flanked by two buildings and in between the foliage of a tree. And stuff like that happened all the time.

Thanks for the thoughtful replies, DW. Really, really good stuff. Everything to date has been about "fixing", "curing" and "improving". We'll throw "understanding" into the mix now, too.



DW_a_mom
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13 Feb 2009, 12:05 am

I loved your little stories. Yes, the problem is "other people." It's hard, at times, to stay focused on what is real and most important in a world that wants to fix and conform everything, but we have to. If we don't, we fail. So ... I am glad I was able to help you refocus on the joy. Best of luck to you. It can be hard to sort through all the noise you will hear from the experts and the schools and more, but if you stay focused on how things are from your child's perspective, the answers come a lot easier.


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Yocritier
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13 Feb 2009, 2:03 am

DW_a_mom, you truly are a credit to this forum.

However, I wish it was so simple. Our AS child needs NT company. This cannot be denied.

The 'other people / us people' is not the solution. It can't always be 'us against the world' attitude. Your AS child will break your heart the day s/he tells you how lonely they are.



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13 Feb 2009, 2:12 am

DW, you are wonderful.

I truly believe you need to write a book!! Seriously. When I read what you write, I am always in awe. You explained everything so well.



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13 Feb 2009, 5:35 am

I'm going to chime in and agree with y'all: DW, you give the best advice, and in a nice, nurturing way.

Yocritier, I'm sorry your guy is having such a hard time. I relate, because 40 years ago, I was in his place. I was lonely, and couldn't figure out what I was doing wrong, and why I didn't have the secret knowledge everyone else had in being social, and then there was the stimming and clumsiness and other stuff. I wanted to die, and had serious depression. I lived not knowing what was up with me up until two years ago. I had already accepted some things, and was very sad for it, and then the possibility of AS came up.

I was diagnosed with AS quite quickly, thanks to old school records and the series of tests. It was such a relief. Such a relief. Everything made sense! And not only did it make sense, I was able to start dealing with it effectively.

Your guy has the advantage I didn't have. His parents know he has AS. And there are books, and people who have been in your shoes (like DW) who can help, and special services and groups. I know it's still hard, because of his issues, but he can learn to deal with them, and take advantage of his strengths.

Bless his heart, and yours, too.

Metta.



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13 Feb 2009, 7:12 am

one thing that might have helped was to wait until he was 6 to start kindergarten as it is called in the USA. I was three weeks off six when i started school and it did help because I was older and more able to cope (although barely) now that he is already there h ave you considered repeating?



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13 Feb 2009, 12:58 pm

Katie_WPG wrote:
TheColonel wrote:

Looking forward to another 13 years of this. Or better yet, maybe he'll never leave home and we can do this for another 50.

"At least he doesn't have cancer." Funny, that phrase doesn't work anymore either.


Well, if you keep on with THAT attitude, then he won't improve.


Keep in mind that we are all human. This can be very heartbreaking for a parent, and your feelings are totally normal, especially now with a new diagnosis. I totally understand your frustration with the school and fear for your child. Hang in there, you got some great advice. When you feel down, revel in the beauty of your child.



AJsDad
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13 Feb 2009, 1:41 pm

I'm right there with you Colonel. My son is 6 and in 1st grade. Kindergarten was a nightmare - lots of outbursts and agression toward teachers, the principal and other kids - kicking, hitting, biting, spitting...etc. We got calls almost every day to pick him up early. When both parents need to work and you can't afford a nanny, this is tough. We were stressing out constantly because we needed him to be able to go to a daycare in order for us to work. Fortunately, my work schedule was fairly flexible and it worked out ok.
What you wrote about the kids looking at yours strangely and the teachers and other staff looking like they feel sorry for you, It could have been me describing many days I've had at AJ's school.
I can tell you that it WILL get better. This year has been fantastic! AJ is doing great in school and although he has had a couple of aggression issues, they have been 10 times less severe and I can count the number of times it's happened on 1 hand instead of needing a calculator! I agree 100% with a previous poster who suggested waiting until 6 to start Kindergarten. We didn't but only because the public school autism specialist informed us we could lose services by taking 1 year off and not starting him at 5. Anyway,they grow and mature SO much between 5 and 6. I know it may be hard to see now but you'll get there.
My 2 cents on the private school: small classes and a more "protected" environment sound great but unless it's a school where the teachers receive training in working with kids with things like AS or ADHD, your son may be suffering more than he would in a public school. My son is in public school and is mainstreamed and I would say it's pretty good. He receives speech and OT services(although very limited) and the district hires special ed staff that really know their stuff when it comes to AS. He also qualified to have a "shadow" aide who is with him throughout the day to help him stay on track and out of trouble. Of course services will vary from district to district and good/open minded teachers make all the difference. Have you researched private schools that cater to AS/ADHD? We have 2 that are fairly nearby but cannot afford right now and the way this year is going, don't feel the need just yet. I am anticipating AJ will have social problems(being teased/excluded) in the years to come and we are trying to save up $ to get to private school for the horrific middle school years where even typical kids tend to have the worst time of their school years existence. Right now, the kids are ok with him but I still see that he's viewed as a little odd and I know this will only get worse as kids get older and more exclusive. AJ seems oblivious to it now but I assume eventually he'll see it and this won't be good for any of us.
Sorry to ramble but your post caught my eye and I immediately related to it.

You're not alone on an island. This is a bit of a comforting thought to me when we're going through tough times. And you can always find others with similar issues(and some great advice) on this board.

Good luck to your family.



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13 Feb 2009, 1:47 pm

I TOTALLY get where you're coming from, TheColonel. I'm not going to chastise you for feeling the way you might right now - because I think we're all entitled to that, for a brief time. The key there is BRIEF. :)

A lot of what you said about your son could be used to describe my own, the difference being that we didn't have our son diagnosed until he was almost 8. We knew something wasn't quite right - but we didn't know what, and our doctors weren't necessarily listening to us. It took me writing down a lot of the behaviors I observed and taking the list into the pediatrician's office before she actually heard me....and then we went to a neurologist and had him diagnosed. I don't really know what I expected to have happen when he was diagnosed. Hearing the words out of the doctor's mouth somehow made it real, and I cried. Not sure if it was from relief of knowing, or from dread...but whatever. Then we did mostly nothing. I suppose part of me thought that since I knew what we were dealing with, I was suddenly going to know how to handle it all. Hardly! I read a lot of books, and I tried a lot of different things - but the fact remained that yes, I had a child with High Functioning Autism. (he falls into that category, although he exhibits a LOT of AS behaviors and symptoms) We're lucky because cognitively, our son is VERY smart...and I keep telling him that the day the school and I learn how to unleash all of that knowledge, it's going to be a huge explosion! :D On the downside, he's so high functioning that he has fallen through the cracks at school - we're having trouble getting the school district to serve him in the areas he needs served (not so much academically, but absolutely socially and I'm guessing that he needs some OT therapy as well for handwriting and smaller motor skills...), he gets teased on a pretty much daily basis, and yet the school says that because he has ONE friend he eats lunch with, he's doing very well socially. That doesn't explain why, every day after school - my son runs the entire way home. It doesn't explain why my son will escape up to his room, and destroy beloved stuffed animals from the sheer stress of school, it doesn't explain the panic attacks he has in the middle of the night, it doesn't help his obsession with video and computer games......or his obsession with chewing ANYTHING....and I could go on and on as probably anyone else could around here. :)

It all could drive you crazy, so just imagine how your son must feel. He's doing what comes naturally to him, and yet instead of applauding him for being himself (or my son for being himself...), we're trying to force them to fit into a world where they don't understand the rules. How frustrating for them.

I don't know what to tell you about the children at your son's school other than they are lucky, dearly truly lucky, that I was not the parent they were talking to that day. I would have swiftly explained how mean they were being, and I would have marched them right over to the teacher, explained the issue - and absolutely EXPECTED that the teacher address the problem to the entire class. That stuff does not fly with me and quite frankly I'm shocked that the teacher and school allows that sort of behavior - but then again, if the school is sending your son home for being disruptive....clearly they are not equipped to handle a special needs child, and aren't worthy of your son's attendance.

I know it's all very overwhelming. It's overwhelming to me at times, and we've been dealing with this for a few years now. ;) Some days I handle it all with grace, other days...not so much. :) We're ALL human....but this is a very good place to come and make sure you're not completely losing it!



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13 Feb 2009, 4:16 pm

Yocritier wrote:
DW_a_mom, you truly are a credit to this forum.

However, I wish it was so simple. Our AS child needs NT company. This cannot be denied.

The 'other people / us people' is not the solution. It can't always be 'us against the world' attitude. Your AS child will break your heart the day s/he tells you how lonely they are.


Thank you and, yes, nothing is simple. I hope I didn't imply it was. But what I wanted to get out there was a first step, a new focus for someone who was in a difficult spot that most of us here can recognize - but all hopefully have moved out of. There will be many, many other difficult spots - but unless I'm going to post a chapter book that can be printed out with tabs easily accessible at just the right moment, that all seemed like discussion for another day and another time. And, actually, it's pretty much all here already. There isn't much that we haven't talked about in depth on this board. Still, ultimately, every issue gets put through the same prism: what is right for the one unique child. Nothing is universal in parenting, and nothing is universal in AS. As everyone here knows, I believe.

I am sorry your child is feeling lonely. My son is actually in a fairly low social spot right now himself. He has friends - 2 very good friends, and one in particular that will fight battles for him when needed and is popular enough to be very successful doing so - but they have their own needs and other friends they like to spend time with as well, and my son just isn't interested in the larger circle. He just wants to be with his 2 friends, one at a time, preferably over lunch every day, but one right now wants to play basketball at lunch and the other is spending time with a "better" friend that my son just can't get into.

You want to know the funniest thing that turned out into the hugest blessing? Carpooling. No joke, carpooling. We send our son to religion class once a week, and in first grade set up a carpool with another school family that does the same. I took care of all the drive to's; they took care of all the drive home's. Because there is a little extra time on the front end, I arranged little picnics and the boys had play time between. In first grade, they weren't interested in each other. Second grade - so so. Third grade - they became real friends, and that has lasted. This other boy was probably THE most popular boy in the elementary school, and yet I overheard him tell my son one day that there were only 3 friends that he really, really trusted, and knew he could talk about anything to - my son being one of them. I really don't know if they would have bonded without that forced time; they really have very different interests. But they've learned so much from each other. Ideally, my son would take one friend and just have that one friend there when he wants him, but he has learned it doesn't work that way, and he accepts it, even if he doesn't like it. So, now I'm trying to cajole him into a wider circle, but that isn't so easy, because he really doesn't like kids until he knows them well, and he doesn't want to spend time with kids he doesn't like - a total catch 22. But, you know, I'm sure it will be alright. It just takes time and investment. He's got to do a few things he doesn't want to in the interest of building bonds. He knows that intellectually, but emotionally it's tough for him to do. He wants to be in his own world and do what he wants to do by himself - except for when he doesn't want to. That you have to PUT IN to create a friendship or even maintain one is difficult for him, but if it becomes important enough to him, he'll do it.


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Mom to an amazing young adult AS son, plus an also amazing non-AS daughter. Most likely part of the "Broader Autism Phenotype" (some traits).


musicislife
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15 Feb 2009, 5:03 pm

TheColonel wrote:
- The social interaction is probably the worst part. Up until this year we could always just shrug it off as, "Hey, he's just a little kid. Little kids are weird." But now that he's in kindergarten the other kids are making these quantum leaps in socialization. They're becoming buddies. They greet each other in the morning, run off to their little places, whisper, giggle, tackle each other. Not my son. He pulls me into his classroom every morning, "Hey dad, come see my favorite thing!." Then we get to stare at some picture of a bug in some book. The same picture. Every morning. He looks at the book. I look at the children looking at the weird kid in their class. I look at the teachers giving me that, "Gee, it must be hard" look, and even though I know they're trying, he's making their jobs incredibly difficult and they're going to take giant relieved breaths when we finally pull him out.


I was dx'ed with AS near the end of last school year(my junior year in high school), so I didn't have the advantage you will have with your son. He has the advantage of getting help he might need academically, like extra time on tests or essays, in the future. Sorry, that was a bit off topic, but...

The social side gets better, believe me. I was treated like crap by some students in my class, especially after they found out about my "obsession." However, at the same time, I found a group of people who accepted me, quirks and all. In 2nd grade, I met my best friend, and even though she moved to another school district in 4th grade, we still get together as much as possible. The resounding majority of my friends are classified as NT, some with quirks of their own(example: dislexia and AD(H)D). Part of the other kids' staring problem is that they probably have not realized that, though your son acts different, the only real difference is the way he sees the world vs the way they see it.

AS is not a disability in itself, the disability stems from how it is looked at.


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Dance like no one is watching. Sing like no one is listening. Love like you've never been hurt and live like it's heaven on Earth. -Mark Twain
If life gives you lemons, make grape juice, sit back and watch the world wonder how you did it.


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15 Feb 2009, 9:52 pm

Rjaye wrote:
I was diagnosed with AS quite quickly, thanks to old school records and the series of tests. It was such a relief. Such a relief. Everything made sense! And not only did it make sense, I was able to start dealing with it effectively.

Your guy has the advantage I didn't have. His parents know he has AS. And there are books, and people who have been in your shoes (like DW) who can help, and special services and groups. I know it's still hard, because of his issues, but he can learn to deal with them, and take advantage of his strengths.

Bless his heart, and yours, too.

Metta.


You are so right. Our kid has one advantage in that today there is much more information on AS, and we (as parents) are facing the issue head on and placing him in AS schooling. Thank you for your blessing and I'm happy for you too in finally having found some answers to your own existance.

TheColonel: you are not alone in this battle.