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Autism/Asperger's Syndrome

Updated on July 16, 2011

Questions and Answers for Aspergers Syndrome

What is asperger's syndrome? How can you tell if your child is a victim of asperger's syndrome? How do I handle a child with aspergers syndrome? What is the prognosis for a child of Aspergers Syndrome? There are so many questions that come come with these two words-Asperger's Syndrome! I'm hoping this will be a place that can answer a lot of those questions. As a mother of a child who I believe(there has been no official diagnosis but all the symptoms are there) has Aspergers Syndrome I know there can be a lot of confusion as to what's really going on in your childs mind.So I will try to gather as much information on this page as I can that will be helpful in answering some of these questions not only for you but also for me.

DEFINITION of ASPERGER'S SYNDROME

Asperger's syndrome is a developmental disorder that affects a child's ability to socialize and communicate effectively with others. Children with Asperger's syndrome typically exhibit social awkwardness and an all-absorbing interest in specific topics.

SYMPTOMS of ASPERGER'S SYNDROME

Signs and symptoms of Asperger's syndrome include:

Engaging in one-sided, long-winded conversations, without noticing if the listener is listening or trying to change the subject

Displaying unusual nonverbal communication, such as lack of eye contact, few facial expressions, or awkward body postures and gestures

Showing an intense obsession with one or two specific, narrow subjects, such as baseball statistics, train schedules, weather or snakes

Appearing not to understand, empathize with or be sensitive to others' feelings

Having a hard time "reading" other people or understanding humor

Speaking in a voice that is monotonous, rigid or unusually fast

Moving clumsily, with poor coordination

Having an odd posture or a rigid gait

Owen's AS Journey

ASPERGERS SYNDROME

Asbergers Syndrome

from yourhealthcare.net

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Asbergers Syndrome (from FAAAS.org )

Asperger's Syndrome is a newly recognized neurological disorder. It shares many of the same characteristics of autism, although people with Asperger's Syndrome do not have the accompanying disabilities. Those afflicted with this syndrome have difficulty understanding what those around them think and feel. As a result of this, they often behave inappropriately in social situations, or do things that may appear to be unkind or callous.

Many Asperger sufferers have a difficult time in planning and coping with change despite average or above-average intelligence. This manifests itself as a notable lack of 'common sense'. There are many nuances to how this disorder affects the lives of those afflicted as well as the lives of their families.

Individuals with AS can exhibit a variety of characteristics and the disorder can range from mild to severe. Persons with AS show marked deficiencies in social skills, have difficulties with transitions or changes and prefer sameness. They often have obsessive routines and may be preoccupied with a particular subject of interest.

They have a great deal of difficulty reading nonverbal cues (body language) and very often the individual with AS has difficulty determining proper body space. Often overly sensitive to sounds, tastes, smells, and sights, the person with AS may prefer soft clothing, certain foods, and be bothered by sounds or lights no one else seems to hear or see.

It's important to remember that the person with AS perceives the world very differently. Therefore, many behaviors that seem odd or unusual are due to those neurological differences and not the result of intentional rudeness or bad behavior, and most certainly not the result of "improper parenting".

The name "Asperger" comes from Hans Asperger, an Austrian physician who first described the syndrome in 1944.

Asperger Syndrome By Rosalyn Lord

Social Interaction Children with Asperger Syndrome have poor social skills. They can not read the social cues and, therefore, they don't give the right social and emotional responses. They can lack the desire to share information and experiences with others. These problems are less noticeable with parents and adults, but it leads to an inability to make age appropriate friends. This in turn can lead to frustration and subsequent behavior problems. They find the world a confusing place. They are often alone, some are happy like this, others are not. They are more noticeably different among peer groups in unstructured settings i.e. playgrounds.

Their naiveté can cause them to be bullied and teased unless care is taken by assistants or buddies to integrate and help protect them. They can often focus on small details and fail to see the overall picture of what is happening in any situation.

Communication Both verbal and nonverbal communications pose problems. Spoken language is often not entirely understood, so it should be kept simple, to a level they can understand. Take care to be precise. Metaphor s (non-literal expressions - 'food for thought') and similes (figures of speech - 'as fit as a fiddle') have to be explained as children with Asperger Syndrome tend to make literal and concrete interpretations. Language acquisition - learning to speak - in some cases can be delayed. They make much use of phrases they have memorized, although they may not be used in the right context. A certain amount of translation may be needed in order to understand what they are trying to say. Spoken language can sometimes be odd, perhaps they don't have the local accent or they are too loud for a situation or overly formal or speak in a monotonous tone.

If the child with Asperger Syndrome has a good level of spoken language you must not assume their understanding is at the same level . Some talk incessantly (hyperverbal) often on a topic of interest only to themselves without knowing the boredom of the listener. Difficulties in using the right words or forming conversations is part of semantic-pragmatic difficulties. They appear often to talk 'at' rather than 'to' you, giving information rather that holding proper conversations.

Body language and facial expressions of a child with Asperger Syndrome can appear odd (stiff eye gaze rather than eye contact) and find 'reading' these things in others gives rise to further difficulties. Early age is known as Hyperlexia. Some children have remarkable reading abilities although you should check if they also understand the text. The ability to read fluently without understanding the meaning is known as Hyperlexia. . They usually excel at rote memory - learning information without understanding, but it can still be an asset.

Attempts should always be made to explain everything in a way they can understand. Don't assume because they parrot information back that they know what they are talking about. Education If the child with Asperger Syndrome is to be educated in a mainstream school it is important that the correct amount of support is made available. In order to get the correct support a Statement of Special Educational Needs should be drawn up from the various advice's supplied by you and the specialists. This procedure, when it begins, can take 6 months and be a very stressful and confusing time - don't be afraid to contact people who can help, this need not be a professional it may just be someone who has done it all before.

It is beneficial if the school of your choice is willing to learn about the difficulties that they and the child will face, some schools are better than other on this score. Looking at several schools will give a better picture of exactly what is available. The support currently offered in mainstream school is by Special Support Assistants (SSA) for a certain number of hours each week based on the child's needs in order to help the child access the curriculum and develop in a social setting. A support teacher with specialist knowledge of Autism should support the child, SSA, teacher and school in understanding and teaching the child. Other professional input may also be required such as speech and language therapy to help develop skills.

It can be very easy with a child who rarely speaks not to tell them all the things you feel inside. Remember, they are children just like the rest, they have their own personalities, abilities, likes and dislikes - they just need extra support, patience and understanding from everyone around them.

Sensory Sensitivities

Light

Too much light, the wrong sort of light i.e. blue light, movement, synesthesia where sound appears in the brain as light

Sound

Too much sound, too much of one frequency of sound, and or the brain focussing on one sound and ignoring all other sounds i.e. a computer fan, cause AS people great discomfort and distraction. Unable to filter extraneous sounds a melange of sound overloads the AS who often has bother discerning which they should be hearing or ignoring individual peaks of sensitivity aggravate an already troublesome condition

Touch

Often referred to as tactile sensitivity, Asperger people are highly sensitive to certain fabrics; sometimes these cannot be tolerated i.e. wool, wearing shoes, hats sunscreen application and the like. Seams labels joins in the fabrics are also sources of often-intense irritation. Others cannot tolerate; hugs, light caress like touch that is perceived as painful, certain types of food in the mouth or even full stomachs

Taste

Some AS people are able to detect certain chemicals or tastes to micro molar amounts whereas others totally lack taste discernment. When medication, for the AS person, is administered via drink or food the AS person is often able to detect the presence of medication via taste even in very small doses. Other people have extreme bother in consuming certain types of food for the taste they perceive overpowers them greatly to cope they often limit themselves to what they eat opting for bland or foods of a certain taste only at the expense of everything else.

Smell

As with food smells and fragrances affect different AS in different ways. Some perfumes over power others do not, the response to the overpowering may be avoidance, anger, windup due to overload, or inability to cooperate with the person who has the perfume, ditto other odours and smells but a number of AS people prefer some odours and try to smell them more regularly.

Smell may trigger outbursts when the fragrance smell whatever is linked to an event thus when experience at a latter date the same feelings or replay of the event takes place.

Right and wrong

Many AS people seem pre-programmed to detect right and wrong and often will bluntly announce what is wrong. Other times will note others short comings but not their own.

Pain

Some AS people are unable to detect pain, others do but have a high pain threshold. On the other hand some are more sensitised and respond to only very small pain incidents out of proportion to the incident, still others may respond to minor pain incidents but fail to do so in more severe events.

Need For Routine

As a train or tram needs tracks so to do ASD people need routine and predictability. Change can cause ASD to become stressed and too much change can lead to meltdowns. Changes like a different teacher at school, a new routine, doing things in a different order are some of the more obvious more subtle might include putting pants on before the shirt, going to the toilet at someone else's place, changing a bedroom curtain can contribute to stress.

I can say AMEN! to the above paragraph.This is SOOOOO evident in my child. There MUST be a routine and things MUST always be done the same way in the same order all the time.No deviation at all! She thinks! To try to get her to adjust to the normal disruptions that do come in life sometimes I will tell her to do chore #2 before chore #1 or rearange the usual schedule just a little . It seems to have helped her realize the world really won't fall apart if every minute of every day isn't exactly the same. I make sure I do it at a time though when I have time to handle the meltdown in case there is going to be one.

A Letter Of Explanation

Apparently this is a letter written by someone with Autism/PDD. While this is not exactly the same as aspergers there are a lot of thoughts, feelings and coping skills that are the same in both and this letter gives some information that helps me as a parent understand whats going on.

Dear Family and Friends-

I understand that we will be visiting each other for some get-togethers this year. Sometimes these visits can be very hard for me, but here is some information that might help our visit to be more successful. As you probably know, I am challenged by a hidden disability called Autism, or what some people refer to as Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD). Autism/PDD is a neurodevelopmental disorder which makes it hard for me to understand the environment around me. I have barriers in my brain that you can't see, but which make it difficult for me to adapt to my surroundings.

Sometimes I may seem rude and abrupt or silly and out of control, but it is only because I have to try so hard to understand people and at the same time, make myself understood. People with autism have different abilities. Some may not speak, some will write beautiful poetry. Others are whizzes in math and computers (Albert Einstein and Bill Gates are both thought to be autistic), or may have difficulty making friends. We are ALL different and need various degrees of support.

Sometimes when I am touched unexpectedly, it might feel painful and make me want to run away. I get easily frustrated, too. Being with lots of other people is like standing next to a moving freight train and trying to decide how and when to jump aboard. I feel frightened and confused a lot of the time. This is why I need to have things the same as much as possible. Once I learn how things happen, I can get by OK. But if something, anything, changes then I have to relearn the situation all over again! It is very hard.

When you try to talk to me, I often can't understand what you say because there is a lot of distraction around. I have to concentrate very hard to hear and understand one thing at a time. You might think I am ignoring you - I am not. Rather, I am hearing everything and not knowing what is most important to respond to.

Get-togethers are exceptionally hard because there are so many different people, places and things going on that are out of my ordinary realm. This may be fun and adventurous for most people, but for me, it's very hard work and can be extremely stressful. I often have to get away from all the commotion to calm down. It would be great if I had a private place set up to where I could retreat every time I go to get-togethers.

If I cannot sit at the meal table, do not think I am misbehaved or my parents have no control over me. Sitting in one place for even five minutes is often impossible for me. I feel so antsy and overwhelmed by all the smells, sounds, and people - I just have to get up and move about. Please don't hold up your meal for me - go on without me, and my parents will handle the situation the best way they know how.

Eating in general is hard for me. If you understand that autism is a sensory processing disorder, it's no wonder eating is a problem! Think of all the senses involved with eating. Sight, smell, taste, touch AND all the complicated mechanics that are involved. Chewing and swallowing is something that a lot of people with autism have trouble with. I am not picky - I literally cannot eat certain foods as my sensory system and/or oral motor coordination are impaired.

Don't be disappointed if Mom hasn't dressed me in the best clothes there are. It's because she knows how much stiff and frilly clothes drive me buggy! I have to feel comfortable in my clothes or I will just be miserable. When I go to someone else's house, I may appear crabby. Things have to be done in ways I am familiar with or else I might get confused and frustrated. It doesn't mean you have to change the way you are doing things - just please be patient with me, and understanding of how I have to cope. Mom and Dad have no control over how my autism makes me feel inside. People with autism often have little things that they do to help themselves feel more comfortable. The grown-ups call it "self-regulation" or "stimming." I might rock, hum, flick my fingers, tap a string, hit buttons or any number of different things. I am not trying to be disruptive or weird. Again, I am doing what I have to do for my brain to adapt to your world. Sometimes I cannot stop myself from talking, singing, laughing, or doing an activity I enjoy. The grown-ups call this "perseverating" which is kinda like self-regulation or stimming. I do this only because I have found something to occupy myself that makes me feel comfortable. Perseverating behaviors are good to a certain degree because they help me calm down.

Please be respectful to my Mom and Dad if they let me "stim" for a while as they know me best and what helps to calm me. Remember that my Mom and Dad have to watch me much more closely than the average child. This is for my own safety, and preservation of your possessions. It hurts my parents' feelings to be criticized for being over-protective, or condemned for not watching me close enough. They are human and have been given an assignment intended for saints. My parents are good people and need your support and not rude remarks.

Gatherings are filled with sights, sounds, and smells. The average household is turned into a busy, frantic, festive place. Remember that this may be fun for you, but it's very hard work for me to conform. If I fall apart or act out in a way that you consider socially inappropriate, please remember that I don't possess the neurological system that is required to follow some social rules. I am a unique person - an interesting person. I will find my place at these celebrations that is comfortable for us all, as long as you'll try to view the world through my eyes!

-Author Unknown

Helpful Strategies

There are many things you can do to help your child better understand the world and in doing so make everyone's lives a little easier. The ideas below are only suggestions which you may or may not find helpful.

# Keep all your speech simple - to a level they understand.

# Keep instructions simple ... for complicated jobs use lists or pictures.

#Try to get confirmation that they understand what you are talking about/or asking - don't rely on a stock yes or no - that they like to answer with.

# Explain why they should look at you when you speak to them.... encourage them, give lots of praise for any achievement - especially when they use a social skill without prompting.

# In some young children who appear not to listen - the act of 'singing' your words can have a beneficial effect.

# Limit any choices to two or three items.

#Limit their 'special interest' time to set amounts of time each day if you can.

# Use turn taking activities as much as possible, not only in games but at home too.

# Warn them of any changes, and give warning prompts if you want them to finish a task... 'when you have colored that in we are going shopping'.

# Try to build in some flexibility in their routine, if they learn early that things do change and often without warning - it can help.

# Don't always expect them to 'act their age' they are usually immature and you should make some allowances for this.

#Try to identify stress triggers - avoid them if possible -be ready to distract with some alternative 'come and see this...' etc.

#Find a way of coping with behavior problems - perhaps trying to ignore it if it's not too bad or hugging sometimes can help.

#Promises and threats you make will have to be kept - so try not to make them too lightly.

#Teach them some strategies for coping - telling people who are teasing perhaps to 'go away' or to breathe deeply and count to 20 if they feel the urge to cry in public.

# Begin early to teach the difference between private and public places and actions, so that they can develop ways of coping with more complex social rules later in life.

# Let them know that you love them - wart's an' all' - and that you are proud of them.

It can be very easy with a child who rarely speaks not to tell them all the things you feel inside. Remember, they are children just like the rest, they have their own personalities, abilities, likes and dislikes - they just need extra support, patience and understanding from everyone around them.

Asperger's Syndrome and Nutritional Recommendations

Autism & Asberger's Syndrome Nutritional Recommendations: It's critical to have them eat a diet high in fruits and vegetables ( high fiber diet). Eating 50-75% raw foods, including large amount of fruits and vegetables ( void of pesticides/chemicals ), brown rice, lentils and potatoes.

Protein: beans, legumes, fish, raw nuts and seeds, skinless white turkey (with no added hormones or antibiotics), tofu and low fat all natural yogurt.

Eliminate: Alcohol, caffeine, canned and packaged foods, carbonated beverages, chocolate, all junk food, refined and processed foods, salt sugar sweets, saturated fats, soft drinks and white flour. Avoid all foods that contain artificial flavors and colors, MSG, or preservatives. Avoid fried and fatty foods such as bacon, cold cuts luncheon meats, gravies, ham, sausage and avoid all dairy products except for low fat soured products.

Avoid wheat and wheat products, drink steamed distilled water, eat frequent small meals.

Research strongly shows many autistic people are sensitive to dairy products, and may be sensitive to strawberries, citrus fruits, behavior reactions to these foods can be seen immediately or within 36 hours of consumption.

Dosages listed below are for adults. For ages 12-17 reduce to 3/4 amounts, child 6-12 use 1/2 the amounts and children under 6 use 1/4 amounts.

Always use supplements with no added artificial colors or flavors, no yeast, dairy or wheat.

Nutrients - Dosage - What it does

Calcium 1500mg daily & Magnesium 1000mg daily - essential for normal brain

and nervous system

Choline - 500-2,000mg daily- improves brain function and

circulation to the brain

Coenzyme Q10 -as directed- improves brain function

Vitamin B complex Vitamin B6 -50mg of each major Vitamin B 3X daily with meals- essential for normal brain and nervous system function

Vitamin B6 50mg - 3X daily- deficiencies have been linked

to autism

Vitamin C bioflavanoids- - 5,000-20-000mg daily in divided doses- antioxidant,and free radical destroyer

Methylsulfonylmethane - as directed -increases alertness, mental calmness

and ability to concentrate

Multivitamin & Mineralcomplex with A, Beta-Carotene and Selenium

and Zinc- as directed

all nutrients are needed in balance

Ethan's Autism Recovery After Diet Change

Positive Traits of Aspergers Syndrome

Trustworthy and Reliable

Most people with Asperger's are dependable and loyal. They don't play games or force others to live up to demanding social expectations. Aspies have no hidden agendas and no interest in harming others or taking advantage of their weaknesses. They are not inclined to lie to, steal from, or attack the reputations of those around them. Aspies are not likely to be bullies, con artists, or social manipulators, and girls with Asperger's syndrome are less inclined to be fickle or bitchy than their neurotypical counterparts. While some people with Asperger's may lash out when provoked, they are unlikely to launch unprovoked attacks, verbal or otherwise.

Aspies like to spend time alone and are perfectly capable of entertaining themselves. While most like to have friends, their need for social contact is not usually as strong as that of ordinary people. Because they are not motivated by an intense social drive to spend time with anybody who happens to be available, they can be selective, choosing honest, genuine, dependable people who share their interests.

Free of Prejudice

Aspies are very accepting of the quirks and idiosyncrasies of others. Most don't discriminate against anyone based on race, gender, age, or any other surface criteria, but instead judge people based on their behaviour. They don't usually recognize hierarchies, and so are unlikely to accord someone superior status simply because that person is wealthy or has attained a high position in an organization.

Those with Asperger's can listen to people's problems and provide a fresh perspective, offering pure assessments based on the the information provided, untainted by the judgments that people often make regarding one another's social position or social skills. Others can relax and be themselves around an Aspie without fearing social censure.

High Integrity

Aspies will not go along with the crowd if they know that something is wrong. Most stick to their positions, even in the face of intense social pressure, and their values aren't shaped by financial, social, or political influences.

Most Aspies have a good work ethic and pay attention to detail. Conscientious, reliable, and honest, many Aspies make very good employees if able to control their pace and work within either a solitary or socially supportive environment. Aspies are persistent, and when they set their minds to something or make a promise, they can usually be trusted to follow through.

Intelligent and Talented

Those with Asperger's syndrome often have above-average intelligence, and many have one or more highly developed talents. They are more likely than those of the general population to pursue a university education, and because many are drawn to technology, they tend to become proficient in the technological media required for lucrative employment in the Information Age.

Enthusiasm and a propensity for obsessive research ensure that Aspies develop a broad and deep base of knowledge in subjects of interest. They loathe small talk and trivialities, preferring instead to talk about significant things that will enhance their knowledge base.

Because they have exceptional memories, those with Asperger's can bring up a variety of interesting facts (though some of these facts will only be interesting to the Aspies themselves), as well as recalling fine details that others miss. They also bring a highly original perspective to problem solving, and their acute sensitivity may support creative talents as well.

Extreme Endurance

Some of those with Asperger's syndrome have great endurance when engaging in activities they like, which may translate into a talent for certain athletic pursuits, despite an inclination to be clumsy. Some Aspies have talents for swimming, rowing, running, bodybuilding, or other activities that require sustained physical effort. They tend to prefer individual sports to team sports, as there are no social demands and they can exercise complete control over the activity.

Those who develop an interest in sport or fitness are likely to work at it every day, often for long periods of time. This tendency to adhere unvaryingly to routines enables Aspies who have fitness interests to stay fit and healthy, manifesting an exercise ethic that ordinary people can only match with a heroic exertion of will power.

Links to other Autism/Asperger Sites

There is an article in this link written by a teenager who has a mild form of AS.

Video- Our Life With Autism/Aspergers

Tips,Ideas,Opinions,any Kind of Helpful Advise Welcome

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    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      I have Asperger's syndrome, I have lots of lenses about each major issue for adults. I was diagnosed aged 53 - but I always knew I was different. Good luck.

    • sisbrown34 lm profile image

      sisbrown34 lm 6 years ago

      my niece has autism. I really learned a lot form your lens. Thanks for taking the time to write about AS

    • karatepooh profile image

      karatepooh 8 years ago

      I just saw that you update on Twitter! I'm going to add this page to my Lense on Asperger's! You've packed a lot of info into this lense, and it's always good to know you're not alone.