Autism Spectrum Disorder | ASD

PJ at 4 years old

PJ would quite happily play for hours on his own at this age.  Before he was diagnosed with Aspergers Syndrome
PJ would quite happily play for hours on his own at this age. Before he was diagnosed with Aspergers Syndrome

Living with Aspergers Syndrome as a Teenager

My nephew PJ was diagnosed with Aspergers Syndrome when he was 7 years old.

He is now attending University and loving his life.

But it was not always like that. His story in his own words is below.

Autism Spectrum Disorder - ASD

There are more and more children being diagnosed with Aspergers Syndrome nowadays. This is good because it means they can get help a lot sooner.

I was only diagnosed a few years ago in my late 50's.

Here in Ireland and some other countries the medical profession has started to diagnose Aspergers as the 'Higher End of Autism Spectrum Disorder' rather than calling it Aspergers. I do not know the reason behind this change

People with this Condition have Difficulty with Social Interaction

They also have very specific problems with understanding the complexities of language, especially within the social environ.

Another physical impairment in the inability to breathe correctly while speaking and this can also be a problem in social situations.

Below is a Project that my Nephew PJ, Completed for School when he was Fifteen Years Old

He explains his experience of living with AS now and what it was like to be him at five years old and as yet undiagnosed with Aspergers Syndrome

In an extract from this report PJ says. " I was very aware of the problems in the world from the age of five and it was much too difficult for me to tolerate then.

By the age of eight my search for knowledge became more refined. Physics was my calling in life. I read Einstein, Newton and anything I could find."

Service dogs trained to assist children with Autism and Aspergers Syndrome
Service dogs trained to assist children with Autism and Aspergers Syndrome | Source

PJ's School Project on his Life with Aspergers is below

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My name is PJ. I am 15 years old.

I have Aspergers Syndrome.

My story so far is outlined below in a Project I wrote for school.

Aspergers Syndrome Characteristics

The basic view is that someone with AS will usually have most of the following traits:

(1) Have a hard time grasping the concept of non-verbal or semi-verbal communication (ie body language, sarcasm, subtext and taking things literally that are meant as figure of speech)

(2) Fail to develop relationships with people in their own age group.

(3) Will have a hard time expressing emotions or understanding the feelings of others.

(4) Have a very intense interest in one or more topics. (usually very specific fields)

(5) Stick to some very strict routines or rituals (ie. always brushing their teeth for exactly 4 minutes, exactly 10 minutes before going to bed at exactly the same time every night)

(6) Subconscious repetitive movements.

(7) Impaired social interaction.

(8) No significant delay in the development of other areas (ie. language)

These can cause problems in every day life, for example; when I was 5 years old, someone phoned my house, I answered the phone and the person asked if my mother was there. I said “yes she is”, and then hung up the phone.

You may be laughing at that right now as it is funny however the harsh truth is that some of these problems can be somewhat depressing. Like how, due to trait #2, I didn’t have a friend my own age until I was 13 years old.

Aspergers Syndrome Isn’t All Bad

Han Asperger had a very positive view of Aspergers Syndrome.

In 1979 he said that for a career in Science and art, “a dash of autism is essential. For success, the necessary ingredients may be an ability to turn away from the everyday world, from the simply practical, an ability to re-think a subject with originality so as to create in new untrodden ways, with all abilities channeled into the one specialty.”

Many Famous and Successful People have or are Speculated to have Aspergers Syndrome

For example, Albert Einstein, Charles Darwin, Isaac Newton, Mozart, George Orwell, Bill Gates and Satoshi Tajiri; the creator of PokeMôn.

These have all be successful in fields where both logical and abstract thinking are required and the first three have made breakthroughs in science that are still some of the most influential of all time.

This implies that many of the biggest advancements in human history were created due to the abstract reasoning of those with Aspergers traits.

Puppies in Training as Assistance Dogs for Children with Autism

Assistance Dogs
Assistance Dogs

Aristotle The Father of Science

Aristotle, the father of science, is believed to have had Aspergers.

During his time in history most scientific questions would have answered with ‘the Gods did it’. It was his burning desire to find a deeper meaning and pattern as to why the world behaves as it does that drove him to invent the scientific method and change how we view the world forever.

Because of this breakthrough it could be said that the entire human race as we know it came about due to the traits of Aspergers Syndrome.

My Personal Experience of Life with Aspergers

I was very aware of the problems in the world from the age of five and it was much too difficult for me to tolerate at such a young age.

A child so young should be in a state of ignorant bliss until they are emotionally developed enough to know about things like death, murder, war, slavery, racism and rape.

Stressed Out All the Time

My Parents knew there was something wrong with me as I was completely stressed out

I could not go to school or wear shoes or certain clothes. I was having complete meltdowns at home and was in a terrible state all the time.

My mother tells me the last straw for her came when I was having a complete meltdown about going to school one morning.

I Wanted to Die

She saw the absolute desperation and hopelessness in my eyes as I begged her not to send me

She realized that I came first and she as my mother was there to protect me and not go by the rules and make sure I attended school.

Child Psychologist and Diagnosis

My mother took me to our doctor who made an appointment with a child psychologist in the Mater hospital here in Dublin Ireland.

No Way Out

I could see no way out of the life I had. My mother tells me I was constantly telling her and the rest of the family that no one could help me and I would be feeling like this for ever.

One day I went into my mother and begged her to kill me with a knife. I told her I had tried a few times myself but couldn’t do it. We both cried more tears of helplessness that day.

Diagnosis

I was diagnosed with Aspergers Syndrome on the first visit with the child psychologist as my symptoms were very evident

I was seven years old. The doctor wrote a prescription for Prozac to help with my bouts of depression and suicidal thoughts.

Today at fifteen years old I have control of some of my traits and now most people who are not aware of my condition would just see me as a bit eccentric.

Coping with School and Aspergers was Still a Problem

School was still a terrible problem for me

I was still stressed every time I went to school but at least my parents made the teachers aware of Aspergers Syndrome and the reason I behaved in certain ways in class.

Gradually the tablets and the understanding of the condition helped me and my family cope.

I Found Sanctuary in my Books

I didn't care much for fiction but fact and science fascinated me to no end. I had an insatiable thirst for knowledge that aroused my senses and consumed my mind.

I wasn't very sociable and in fact I had no friends at all; I didn't even know what a friend was.

But that didn't matter as I moved on to bigger and better things. When I came home from school I would head straight to my room to read.

I Read Einstein, Newton and Anything I Could Find.

By the age of eight my search for knowledge became more refined.

Physics was my calling in life. I read Einstein, Newton and anything I could find. Very unusual for a boy my age.

My interests turned to astronomy and I joined the Irish Astronomers Association.

Once a month we would go up to the Phoenix Park in Dublin where many large telescopes were set up and we stayed there, looking at the stars for nearly two hours.

Depression

As time went by, my interest in astronomy dwindled as I entered a darker period of my life.

Many failed suicide attempts and fits of depression marked a premature end to my sad excuse for a childhood

Friends and Aspergers

: At the age of nine I made my first friend. She was a girl much like me called Caoimhe.

She was an outcast as I was; ostracized by the ‘normal’ children in my school.

She didn't care how strange I was and she was a comforting companion to help me out of my downward spiral. I went to her tenth birthday party after she invited me as she was my only friend and she lived very close by.

Bullying

On my way walking back from the party I ran into a small boy a few years younger then me.

He was being bullied by two children who though older then him were still younger then me

I chased them away and me and the boy, whom I later found out was named Mark, struck up a friendship that lasts to this day.

Though he has moved further away than I can walk to I still see him twice a week. We are great friends and I saw him nearly every day till he moved.

Attending Secondary School

I entered secondary school and I found out how much trouble Aspergers Syndrome can be in higher levels of education.

It was very hard and stressful at first but I adapted and made a small, tightly knit group of friends.

I did what I could to cope and in time the Junior Cert came around.

It was a very stressful time but due to the great amount of support from my parents and the staff in the resource room in my school, “G4”, I got through it with great results and nobody was killed, ha ha ha.

Now I am in Transition Year and I am enjoying it very much

It has allowed me to explore many different subjects and examine my abilities. I will be going into fifth year soon and I have chosen to do all three science subjects of Physics, Biology and Chemistry, as these are subjects I enjoy and excel in.

This is where my story ends for now but it continues as we speak.

My story may not be a happy one but I wouldn't change it for the world as it has made me the man I am today and I believe it is worth it.

In this situation, the end justifies the means.

School Project

That was part of a School Project I did when I was fifteen years old. Many people read it and were so interested in it that they asked for copies.

My resource teacher also asked me to make a copy for every teacher in the school. Including family, friends and my psychologist who wanted copies there will be well over fifty made.

I started this project as a learning experience and it has turned into a relatively widely published medical article.

I hope that reading this will help other kids in my school with Aspergers Syndrome to be understood better and be much more accepted.

PJ Mullen

Update. Hello this is PJ again: My Story Continues.

Discovering something new every day.

I am writing this now, two years on as I am halfway through my Leaving Certificate exams. (High School Diploma.).

I am doing very well thanks to the help of the amazing teachers in my school who are always willing to go out of their way to do that little bit extra.

Trusting People

In the past two years I have opened up and have began to trust people more, gaining many new and interesting friends on the way.

I now express myself and my own unusual way of thinking and acting without holding back

I wore surgical scrubs and a stethoscope into my biology exam because I thought it would put everyone in a good mood; which it did, even the teachers laughed and gave compliments.

I try to do at least one unusual thing every day to make the world more interesting and I never have to look far.

Off to College

After my exams I'll be going to college to study computer science which is my passion now

I haven’t talked to Caoimhe in a long while since she moved away which makes me sad but the last I saw of her she was happy so I'm optimistic. I still talk to Mark through email, though I don't see him as often as I used to, maybe every two months.

Every day I'm discovering something new and interesting which changes me a little so who knows what I'll be like in a year or two. Let’s just keep our fingers crossed that still no one will get killed. Hahaha!

PJ Mullen


Update August 2011

PJ now attends Dublin City University and has just completed his first year of a four year Degree in Computer Science Applications. He loves it!

Update April 2012

PJ is now in his second year of University and is still enjoying his life!

Living with Aspergers Syndrome

My nephew PJ has explained his thoughts and experiences up to this point of his life living with Aspergers Syndrome.

As he says it is not all bad now. He has hope and enthusiasm for his future.

He did have a terrible few years in his early life where neither his parents or himself knew what was happening to him and why he felt the way he did.

Thankfully he was diagnosed with Aspergers at the age of seven and received the medical help he needed.

He also received the support of his parents as they finally knew what was wrong with him and how they could help their son

Family Support for Children with Aspergers Syndrome

I believe it is very important for the sanity and physical well being of the small child with Aspergers Syndrome to have the support and love of their parents.

If the Aspergers child is allowed to be different and accepted as such, then he or she will be able to grow up with confidence in their abilities and future.

They will accept they are different than the majority of people in this world and will like PJ and myself be glad of this difference and embrace it.

More by this Author


Comments 31 comments

drbj profile image

drbj 6 years ago from south Florida

A fascinating yet positive account of what it's like to live with AS, viking. Should be of immense help to parents and children struggling with AS.


Jaypyramid profile image

Jaypyramid 6 years ago

Its great to hear such a positive outlook PJ. I agree Viking, it makes all the difference when children are diagnosed young and get the services they need, both from a medical perspective but just as importantly from a school perspective. If people understand the traits and where a person with AS understands or sees things differently it makes all the difference. Thats why 'Awareness' campaignes are very good.


viking305 profile image

viking305 6 years ago from Ireland Author

Yes drbj We never thought all those years ago when PJ was 5 yrs old and he and the family were going through such a confusing and terrible time that he would be so happy now. He is a lovely child or I better say adult lol, as he has just turned 18.

I really hope a lot of people who are struggling with their children who have just been diognosed with aspergers will be able to see a wonderful future for themselves and their child.


viking305 profile image

viking305 6 years ago from Ireland Author

It certainly does make a huge difference,Jaypyramid. the sooner a child is diognosed with Aspergers Syndrome. Everything falls into place for both the child and the parents.

At the time of PJ's Diognosis Aspergers was not well known but thankfully there is a lot more information out there now. And this kind of positive information like the article above can only help to make AS more understood


Baileybear 6 years ago

Thank you for sharing about your experience. My son was recently officially diagnosed at age 7 too. His meltdowns are starting to lessen in intensity. He is so stressed at school. We are going to try a new school. I've been writing about our experiences.


Pamela Kinnaird W profile image

Pamela Kinnaird W 6 years ago from Maui and Arizona

This really was very interesting to read -- and to see the videos. Your nephew is a great young man. Thank you for a really good article and for pointing out -- as your nephew did -- that some of the best thinkers in the world have been people with Asperger's.

It's my understanding, too, that some people can have Asperger's to a very small degree which can make life more difficult until it is recognized. That's how it is with someone I know and love.


viking305 profile image

viking305 6 years ago from Ireland Author

Yes Bailybear it is very hard for a child to cope with the outside world when thay have aspergers. School is such a large part of their lives.

But to be honest as with my sister and her son PJ sometimes it is necessary to stand back and say hold on should I be putting my child through this pure hell in making him go to school and suffering in so many ways.

PJ eventually went back to school once he was on medication and strong enough to cope with the pressures of life outside the protection and understanding of his family.

I hope you and your son find peace with a new and more understanding school soon


viking305 profile image

viking305 6 years ago from Ireland Author

Thanks for reading the article Pamela. Yes PJ was the worst case the hospital have seen in years he had all the traits of AS and all in a very strong way. He still has but now that he was got through the childhood years he is able to cope with it better. Everything is hard for him but it is something he accepts and gets one with.

I am 53 and have AS too. I was lucky in the sense that my father, we know now also has it. So my family life was a bit unusual. we travelled all over the world when I was a child so never settled or made friends. My mother accepted that her 5 children all had different tastes in food and accomadated us. Much to her relatives amazemant. My brother and 3 sisters all have AS to varying degrees.

But as you say we knew we were different but not why. I have AS pretty bad though and it has effected my life adversly because it went undiognosed until 10 years ago. Having AS to a lesser degree is sometimes harder yes I agree because it can go undiognosed and therefore the person will continue to believe they can change the way they feel and act. They blame themselves for not being like the majority of the population and therefore unable to fit in.

Being diognosed with aspergers is a relief because they can now understand why they feel like they have all their lives


kathyfofathy profile image

kathyfofathy 6 years ago

endearing


Ingenira profile image

Ingenira 6 years ago

it's good to hear from an AS directly what it is like to be an AS. A great article indeed.


Greatlife profile image

Greatlife 6 years ago

What a touching story, I had a vague idea of what AS was. Thanks to this insightful hub it brought the entire subject to light. Thanks for sharing.


bayoulady profile image

bayoulady 6 years ago from Northern Louisiana,USA

An awesome informative hub. I have a daughter who is autistic and a relative who is a high functioning asperger's syndrome kid. As long as you can remind yourself of what they are experiencing and not expect them to be a cookie cutter mold of you, then you can have enjoyable and enduring times together.

RATE UP!


viking305 profile image

viking305 6 years ago from Ireland Author

Thank you Kathyfo and Ingenira for reading and your comments. Yes, life for a person with Aspergers is complicated and a child finds it hard to cope until they get older. The thoughts of a person with AS are different and complicated for sure.


viking305 profile image

viking305 6 years ago from Ireland Author

Thank you Great life for your comment. Yes I believe it is important for Aspergers Syndrome to be highlighted.

The more people who are aware of the condition the better, it creates an understanding of people who are different. The workings of a child particulary with AS is very confusing and frightening. If undiognosed then the child goes through hell at home and in school.

Once AS has been accepted by the doctors and the parents and the child's mind is understood, that child's life improves immensely.


viking305 profile image

viking305 6 years ago from Ireland Author

Thanks Bayoulady for reading and commenting. Yes I agree with you totally. Especially where children are concerned. At least with adults with Aspergers they have to a certain degree control of their own daily lives. They can choose what to wear and eat. Very important to a person with AS.

I cannot wear shoes of any kind in the house. I wear shoes to go out and to work and have taught myself to put up with it. But once in the house I take off my shoes immediately. I eat what I want when I want. I have control of my daily life.

A child does not. This puts tremendous stress on them as the WORST thing for a person with Aspergers, child or adult is for things to happen unexpectantly.

A child is made to wear and eat what they are told, once it gets to the stage for that child that they cannot cope with this situation then usually they do what all children do, have a trantrum and a meltdown.

They are living a life of pain and hurt and confusion and fear. Once Aspergers is diognosed then the child has the understanding of their parents and some hope of a better life.


topdentistfinder profile image

topdentistfinder 6 years ago

Great information and positive hub! Thanks.


viking305 profile image

viking305 6 years ago from Ireland Author

Thanks for reading the hub and your comment topdentistfinder


It's just me profile image

It's just me 6 years ago from Alaska

Thank you and PJ for writing this. I also believe that the unconditional love, respect, and acceptance by family help a great deal.


viking305 profile image

viking305 6 years ago from Ireland Author

Hello It's just me and thanks for reading the hub. Yes it certainly does make a difference because anyone with Aspergers has to put up with a lot from people in the 'ouside' world. It is very stressful for us and then we need to be able to have the security and safety of our home.

If people with AS know they have this support then they can go home and feel strong and recharge their batteries in safety.


Christopher Woodward 6 years ago

I liked your story.


abbykorinnelee profile image

abbykorinnelee 5 years ago from Ripon Wisconsin

Very emotionally driven in a positive way hearing the account from a child through teens. To get a view of the inside that we don't normally get to embark on. A world that is so majestic for our kids they don't always want to join us. I learned so many things beyond educational rights and advocating and diagnosis. Watching these kids and listening to the different ways they communicate or they interact or their different way of viewing the facts or the world. Its so innocent yet so adult. Even when they understand the realities of life or war when they should be to young yet struggle with small daily normal tasks can be heart breaking if you let it but his heart shows that even though its hard and at times you wanted to not be born sheds light on your pain and frustration so we can now see it before we usually would be fore the problem is so out of control. I understand now why my son with Autism gets upset and say's he is fired or that he will kill himself...I don't think he literally means it but its saying how great that pain is. Thank you for sharing a view that is so much a private life in the past and I hope we all can learn from the amazing people these kids are and if our communities are more aware we may get even better diagnosis and treatment availabitly. God Bless your son for he is going to be a wonderful addition to our society


MPG Narratives profile image

MPG Narratives 5 years ago from Sydney, Australia

PJ has a lot in common with Luke my friends son who has AS, I wrote about Luke, it was one of my first hubs. Aspies are special people who deserve to be loved for who they are and not be forced to conform to 'normal' conventions. My best wishes to PJ and his family and friends.


Qbrown9 5 years ago

My son has been diagnosed with Asperger's. He suffers from debilitating tics and anxiety. He is not able to attend the public middle school. It was too much for him and I took him out. He is gifted in so many ways, but he struggles to understand his peer group and expectations of others. He will attend a school that embraces Asperger's and knows how to handle these kids. I hope this works for him. It is tough, but I agree that kids needs to feel special about who they are rather than disabled or deficient. It makes a tremendous difference. He can say now I have Asperger's and it's okay. He defends those with autism. He has taken notice. It's a beginning. Thanks for the hub. Getting the word out is so important.


viking305 profile image

viking305 5 years ago from Ireland Author

Thank you abbykorinnelee for reading and your comments

Yes it is very important to understand what younger children with AS are going through. They do not have the freedom of adults to direct their life in a way that gives them relief from the never ending stress of their life.

They are having to deal with social situations, noise and other sensory overloads every day. It is no wonder they have melt downs and appear to be badly behaved.

Children with Aspergers Syndrome are unique and wonderful young people. Unfortunetly the majority of people do not accept someone who is different without suspision


viking305 profile image

viking305 5 years ago from Ireland Author

Thank you MPG Narratives for reading. Yes we were the same when PJ was diagnosed with AS all those years ago. We had never heard of this form of Autism before. Now thankfully it is a lot more well known. But it is important that more people get to understand the condition and the stresses it can cause for a very young child.

I am delighted to read that Luke has indeed grown up to enjoy his life and is doing well.


viking305 profile image

viking305 5 years ago from Ireland Author

Qbrown9 thanks for your comment. Now that your son has been diagnosed with Aspergers his life will improve.

Taking him out of the school where he could not cope was the best thing you could have done for him at this stage. He will be with people who understand his needs at the new school. This in turn will give him confidence and enable him to relax and enjoy his life.

Your son is among a very select group of human beings. As PJ said he has Aspergers Syndrome and wouldn't have it any other way because it made him who he is.


La Papillon profile image

La Papillon 5 years ago from Melbourne, Australia

Awesome! I hope your son keeps writing and sharing his experience of life.

Qbrown 9 - best wishes to you and your son too. He sounds like a wonderfully enlightened and intelligent boy.

The 'voices' of people on the Spectrum are invaluable, as are the individuals themselves.

Cheers, Louise ;)


CMJ 5 years ago

Has anybody tried homeschooling their children? It can be a big help I believe.


linda 5 years ago

thanks for sharing. My daughter is w9. just diagnosed. Wwish we had your wisdom


Carol - Aspie Sibling 4 years ago

CMJ - when you observe the stress that school can bring to an Aspie, the temptation to home-school is huge - but not every family can afford that option financially (living on one paycheck), plus you may be denying your Aspie long-term improvements in social schools just to avoid short-term stress. Working closely with an experienced teacher in the development of an IEP can make a great deal of difference.

www.aspergersschools.org


viking305 profile image

viking305 4 years ago from Ireland Author

Thank you all for taking the time to leave a comment. PJ is now 19 years old and doing great at University.

Life is still a challenge for him socially, but as he says if he did not have Aspergers Syndrome he would not be who he is today!

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