Autism Spectrum Disorder in Adults and Children
Autism Spectrum Disorders ASD
Support for a child with Aspergers Syndrome and their family is getting better all over the world. I have given links to some websites that offer this healthcare support. There are also websites for Adults with Autism Spectrum Disorder, ASD who have only been recently diagnosed.
Aspergers Syndrome or ASD
Most specialists are now diagnosing people with Aspergers as on the ASD Chart at the highest end. This is because there is a move to get all autistic type symptoms into the ASD Chart. The reason behind this change is unclear. In this article I will continue to call it Aspergers Syndrome.
Symptoms of ASD
Adults and children who have been diagnosed with Aspergers have severe difficulty with social interaction. They also have very specific problems with understanding language and how it is used especially within the social setting. An inability to breathe correctly while speaking can also affect some children. Another aspect of Aspergers Syndrome is the tendency to take what people say literally.
This can be a major problem with children and young adults who have not yet been diagnosed with AS. Until they are this aspect of the condition is not obvious to the main carers of children. This can cause some dangerous and often stressful situations.
Austrian Pediatrician Hans Asperger
Asperger's Syndrome is named after the Austrian pediatrician Hans Asperger. He published the first definition in 1944. He observed four hundred children and noticed a pattern in their behavior which included, inability to form friendships, a lack of empathy with others, one-sided conversations, intense absorption in a special interest or interests, and clumsy movements.
But it was not until the early 1990s, that Hans Asperger's findings began to gain notice and acceptance in the wider medical world. It is generally accepted that there a number of specific characteristics that a person with the condition will display in varying degrees of severity.
Living with Asperger's
Difficulty with Social Interaction
When a very small child, children with AS will happily play all day on their own. As they grow older though they have to interact with other people socially and it then becomes a problem. Once school is attended the child will realize that having friends is unattainable for them.
They do not understand how to see the verbal and nonverbal cues that are used in typical social interactions. They cannot understand why other children do not want to know every detail of a particular subject that they are interested in.
As they get older they become isolated and withdrawn. Some children and young adults have no desire to make friends and are quite happy in their own isolation. Some people with AS have problems in working out facial expressions and body language.
They cannot grasp the idea that during a conversation taking turns in expressing their views is essential. Or that they should give the other person time to express their view on the subject. These social skills are essential to form friendships. So usually a child with Aspergers has no friends their own age.
Most older children and young adults with the condition are aware of the value of friendships. Social interaction is needed in everything in life. Though they would always find it hard to find and keep friends the desire and longing of companionship never leaves them.
People need to make long life friends from school and college in order to have a network of support and encouragement in their future endeavors in life. As an adult it is important to make friends in work enabling the person to become part of the company and a candidate for promotion.
To attract a lifelong partner and therefore enjoy love and companionship in their life is the normal endeavor of most people. Adults with Aspergers Syndrome find social interaction a struggle. This will cause adults to suffer stress and anxiety in these situations.
My Aspergers Story
Most people with autism have problems understanding language and gestures within a social setting. People with AS feel the need to communicate their knowledge of a certain topic they have an interest in. They share facts and information quite happily without realising that other people have no interest in the subject.
A major problem especially with children and young adults with ASD is their tendency to take what people say to them literally. Once a person is older then this trait is somewhat controllable. I am 60 years old and still get caught out quite often by taking what my family says to me literally.
When the child has been diagnosed the parents will then be aware of this particular tendency and will speak to the child or young adult carefully in order to get the desired communication across.
Routine is Calming
A very young child will be happiest with routine. As they get older they will create their own routine and insist that it is kept. A family who is aware that their child is different but is not aware that they have Aspergers and what the traits of AS are will usually fall in with the child’s desire for particular routines within the household.
The parents become aware of the child’s calmness and happiness once these are implemented so agree to them. This is unfortunately not the case once they start school. Both parents and the child go through a very stressful and dangerous part of their life until the child is finally diagnosed with Aspergers Syndrome.
Obsession with a Particular Interest
The child with Aspergers will have obsessions with particular interests and spend hours of everyday immersed in this subject. They believe that everyone else is also fascinated by this particular topic and get annoyed when other people do not respond to their continuous sharing of information on the subject.
Many people with Aspergers Syndrome have difficulty with fine motor skills. Typical difficulties include handwriting, riding a bike, and most sports with ball skills.
These can occur in one or all of the senses of sight, sound, smell, touch and taste. The degree of difficulty varies from one Aspergers person to another.
Touch can be a major problem. A child has no control over what they wear. If the parent is unaware of this touch sensory issue then the child will go through a very stressful and painful part of their life.
Only certain clothes will be alright for this child. If they are forced to wear other types of material then they suffer a real and painful reaction. To them certain clothes and shoes will make them want to explode with pain. This is a real problem for those younger children who have not yet been diagnosed with Aspergers and therefore their parents are totally unaware of the real pain their child is suffering.
Certain sounds can send a person with Aspergers Syndrome crazy. Each person with Aspergers will have their own sound sensitivity. It could be traffic, electrical equipment or any everyday normal sound that people without the condition do not even hear. The sound will cause physical pain and anxiety and stress.
A child with ASD can have a bad reaction to any type of food. Certain foods will make them want to be physically sick and no amount of bribing or threats will make the child feel different about certain foods.
All people with AS have different degrees in their tolerance of tastes and texture of food. Once they become adults they have control of their own diet and this stressful part of their life is eliminated.
Smell and Sight
Certain smells will also make a person with Aspergers want to be physically sick. These smells may not even be detectable to other people but they can cause a bad physical reaction in the person with AS. Photographs or television programmes about certain subjects will also cause stress and anxiety to some people with the condition.
ASD Diagnosis in Children
Each individual person with the condition will have their own combination and severity of the above. Once a child is diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder their behavior can be explained by the above traits. They stop being labeled as aggressive and uncooperative in school and are given the particular help needed to make their experience in the outside world as less frightening and threatening as possible.
For the sanity of both parents and children it is best that the condition is diagnosed as soon as possible before school age but this is not always the case. Children with Aspergers Syndrome are at the mercy of their parents understanding of the condition. A child with ASD has their home life made bearable only by their parents actions.
If the parents are able to realize the individual traits of Aspergers that their child has, then a routine and acceptable family life can be organised around the child. They will also be able to become the advocate for their children in the outside world of school and medical appointments.
Diagnosis in Adults
For an adult who knew they were different but did not know why then being diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder is a relief. They realize that their habits and confusion of the outside world was not their fault. Usually an adult will be diagnosed only when their own children have also got the condition and they have gone to the specialists for help with their child.
Once they learn the characteristics of ASD they begin to realize that they too have suffered from all or some of these traits all their life too. I believe once a child or adult has been diagnosed then the life of those children and adults can then be made so much easier and enriched with understanding of these unique individuals.