Monday, March 30, 2009

OK, it's been kinda crazy at our house the last few days!

Will went to the eye doctor on Friday March 20th and we found out he needs glasses. We picked out some very nice Timberland frames that are very durable. He's not happy, but we've spent the last week really playing up how cool his new glasses are and how awesome he's going to look. So, if you see us out, be sure to say how cool he looks!!

But this is a special blog. It's to pay tribute to people who probably don't really understand how much they mean to our lives. A lot of times, I really stink at true emotions. I now say that it's my Asperger's peeking out, but all kidding aside, I am great with helping others and telling them I'm there for you. I am terrible at accepting help and being gracious. I think it comes from being a control freak! I am really working on it and praying about it. In addition to that, I have always been able to express myself better in print than with words.

On Saturday, March 21st Will's best buddy in the world Madison and her family came over for dogs and Wii. The great part is Madison's mommy, Melissa is my best buddy too! They are a great family and I really lean on Melissa a lot for support. We are perfectly matched though. Her husband Phillip and Craig are very much alike. Me and Melissa could have been separated at birth, except she's younger than I am. Their youngest daughter Megan was born 2 weeks after Matthew. Christian doesn't have a match, but he's our life of the party anyway. I don't think there's another one out there quite like him. Now for Maddy.

You have to understand that it is hard for children with Asperger's to make a "connection" outside of family members. This is just a part of that "social" learning curve that they have. But Aspie mom's have hope. Every so often, angels will walk into your child's life. Madison is Will's angel. They met in daycare. She was 3 and he was 4. She had just moved to the 3 yr old class and he was waiting for a space to open to go to the 4 yr old class. He came home every day telling me about his new "girl". That's what he called her because he couldn't remember her name. While in daycare, Will didn't play with the other children. He usually took a book or a bucket of blocks outside and sat on the sidewalk while the others ran, jumped, climbed and played outside. That is until Madison came. Every day the teacher would tell me, "Will played during outside time today with Madison!" I became excited. I worked in Winston Salem at Baptist Hospital, so I only dropped Will off at daycare I never picked him up. Either Craig or his mom and dad picked him up in the afternoon. So, I kept hearing about Madison but never got to meet her until we went to the zoo. I had recently found out I was pregnant with Christian. I took the day off to go on the field trip to the zoo (this was before I decided to quit). I drove with Will to the zoo, but Madison and her mom had rode the daycare "bus". So when we were going into the zoo, we met up with Madison and her mom (this should read that will drug me across the North America entrance to get to her). We rented a stroller together. They had a blast and Melissa and I became fast friends! From that point on, they were inseparable. He still has a picture that I took of them together that day in a frame in his room (we had to blow it up to a 5 x 7). Will went to her birthday parties, she came to his, etc. They are at that time of year, in April, where they will both be 7 for a short period. Even though it seems silly, Will looks forward to the months that he and Madison are the same age. He loves anything having to do with her and whenever they are together, it seems like everyone else just fades away. We joke sometimes that we are going to end up as in-laws, but truth be told I really don't think Melissa and Phillip or Craig and I would mind a bit. They used to tell everyone that they would get married when they were grown up.

Even though they don't attend the same schools, Will talks about her all the time. She is always in his thoughts and prayers. If he never has another true friend in his life, and I hope he has a million, but if he never does he can say he has had a dear friend who loves him. Whenever Craig and I talk about it we say that she just "gets" him. I sometimes wonder why it is so easy for her to see how great he is and so difficult for others, including adults. I thank God every day for that little girl. She is a bright star in his life and we are grateful for her!
So to Madison, we love you so much! To Melissa and Phillip, no matter what else goes on in your life. No matter what "drama" and hardships you have to endure. Hold your head high in the knowledge that you are wonderful parents who are raising an angel who touches the lives of those around her. Especially one little boy who loves her!!

Friday, March 20, 2009

Sensory problems

Sights and Sounds
People with Asperger’s Syndrome often have to deal with extreme sensitivities to everyday sights, sounds, smells and touch.This sensitivity is not one of their "official symptoms" as described in the Physician's Desk Reference doctors use for diagnoses. However, there are thousands of parent and therapist's anecdotes about this condition. Some experts believe that while sensitivity may cause AS children to tantrum and "act out" in the first place, after a while such behaviors become learned. They hold on to them because of the rigidity of their personalities. Nevertheless, certain studies indicate that between 42% and 88% of people with Asperger’s Syndrome do experience such sensitivities.Hearing problems. Some AS children seem to hear sounds others do not. They can be driven to distraction by noises everyone else filters out, such as the buzz of fluorescent lights, the tick of a clock or the brush of corduroy against a desk. The inability to filter out background noises makes it hard for many AS children to follow conversations or listen to their teachers' directions.Some sounds seem actually painful to children with Asperger’s. This is one of the things that seem to stand out with Will. For example, the sound of the vacuum cleaner, a police siren, the fire drill or just the noise from the lunch room is enough to cause him to be very uncomfortable and even enough to cause a meltdown Auditory sensitivity makes it hard for us to take him noisy places like ball games or concerts, etc without proper ear protection to muffle the sounds.
Taste and Smell. Many experts conclude that AS children rely more on their senses of smell and taste than sight and hearing. They have strong memories of smells; for example, they may be able to recognize people by their unique body odors.Certain smells like food, cleaning fluids, perfumes, shampoos and lotions can make them nauseous. This sometimes makes it hard for them to handle routine places like the school cafeteria, laundry detergent aisle at the grocery store or shopping mall cosmetic counter.An AS child’s acute sense of smell and taste may also create eating problems. They may limit their selves to certain foods, eat one food at a time, certain color foods, not allow foods to touch on their plate, and so forth. With Will this comes and goes to some extent. For two years he wouldn’t touch anything green. However, certain textures in his mouth can cause him to vomit. Many AS children even vomit easily. Everyday substances like toothpaste can make them sick to their stomachs.Touch. AS children may be overly or under-sensitive to touch. Will seems to be overly sensitive only to clothes. This is the only thing that we have found that disturbs him. He finds tags on clothing very irritating. He will only wear certain fabrics or clothes that are old and soft from washings. He does not like to wear new clothes because of it. Visual problems. Perhaps only one in five persons with Asperger’s Syndrome has them. Will is one of these. Some AS children get upset by certain pictures, colors or bright lights. Will has a horrible aversion to bright lights. This is real and severe for him. To the point we have to take sunglasses with us to the dentist’s office and a trip to the eye doctor is excruciating for him.
He will often stand too close to others or stare at them inappropriately. This is because he is committing to memory every detail of this person. This is actually, in his own way, a compliment. It means that he likes you enough to want to remember you.
He can search for an object and not notice that it is right in front of him. This is very typical for AS children.
Most AS children, including Will, have problems making eye contact with other people.Proprioceptive and Vestibular disorders. These are about orienting yourself in space, keeping your body in balance and maintaining good posture and movement.
In normal people, a complex network of nerves works together with the senses naturally. You can sit down without looking at your chair. You know where your feet are. You know how to straighten your shirt without looking into a mirror. AS children have problems with such abilities that operate on the unconscious level for normal people. This makes simple activities such as climbing stairs feats that must be learned.
Activities that involve complex movements, changes in speed and hand-eye coordination such as handwriting or playing baseball become nightmares for many AS children, but can be learned to the point of being almost unnoticeable of having ever had a problem. AS children may never be professional athletes but are more than able to enjoy sports if they so choose. Please check out the link I have posted for ASD athletes. This a charity that my dear frien Jen Higgins and her husband have started. It is a great organization that sponsers children on the spectrum in athletics. I think it is an awsome idea and I ask that you all be sure to go see what they are all about. They are based in Knoxville, Tenn.

The Meeting

Well, much to my surprise, the meeting went much better than expected. Even though I was a bit testy, I managed to keep Jesus in my heart and on my lips. I was very proud of myself. I sometimes struggle with that when I lose my temper. That is one of the things that I pray for daily. To control my temper. I just don't have much patience for people who say "stupid" things or act badly towards my children. I always try to remember that it is better to take an opportunity to educate them than to bite their heads off but I don't always succeed. I try to work everyday at being a better person and a better role model for my children. It's hard to teach self control to a child if you don't exhibit it yourself. I truly believe in leading by example.

Well the school is going to make an exception and have the AIG (academically intellectually gifted) teacher to pull will out of class during english time and do activities with him that are more advanced and try to center it around his intrests. This is perfect for him. It is exactly what we were looking for! They will work one on one with him in class every day with advanced work and twice a week he will be with the AIG teacher for about an hour each day. I think maybe a somewhat intelligent 18 page report that I emailed them to prepare them for the meeting got their attention. I think it may have also made them take us more seriously this time!! Either way, I was pleased. They are also ordering some new materials for him to use both in class and in AIG.We discussed some other things as well. He now has earplugs for the bus that the bus driver will keep up with for him and more for inside the school for the lunchroom, pep rallies, etc as well. He will also be assigned a buddy, one of his friends, to help him pack up. We requested a little girl named Adialee who has been in his class since kindergarden and is really kind to him.

We discussed the children who are picking on him and the fact that he just doesn't get that they are being mean to him. They have promised to pay more attention and I have promised to make surprise visits! I also reminded them that Will knew a lot of people who would also be dropping by to visit (eg friends, family members, psychologists, ...) and watching from out in the community. Thanks Christi!!!

We assured them that we wanted to work with them because Will wants to go to school there, and we want him to be happy. We also assured them that while his happiness was very important, as his parents we would ultimately do what's best for him.

But all in all we were encouraged.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Coming Attractions

Well we are going to Will's meeting at the school tomorrow. I have mixed emotions. On one hand, I really want them to step up to the plate and do what they are supposed to do to help him both academically and socially. On the other hand, if they refuse, it makes the descision whether or not to home school pretty easy. I'm very conflicted right now.

On Friday, we go to the eye doctor. He's always had very good vision. It was 20/20 when we had him tested before kindergarden. When we went for his visit to our pediatrician the other day, he couldn't see part of the eye chart that he could read the last time, so we are going to have him checked by an opthamologist. I truly hope he doesn't need glasses. Speaking as someone who got glasses in second grade, it's not going to help him out socially. All parents of small children in school know that no matter how perfect your child is, kids are CRUEL! I guess if he does, we will just have to find the coolest most awsome ones that they make! My mom rocked on that account! Even though they were twice as expensive as the nice regular ones and she didn't really have the money, she got me the Strawberry Shortcake glasses for my first pair. Thanks Mom!!

So, just remember to keep us in your prayers!

Also, one of my best friend's little girl Chloe is having some outpatient surgery on Friday. Please pray for her and my friend, Rena. Chloe is only one week older than Matthew and it's going to be tough on the whole family!!

Mindblindness or "Theory of Mind"

One big challenge for those with high-functioning autism is mindblindness (sometimes called brain blindness). Mindblindness refers to the inability of people with Asperger’s to understand and empathize with the needs, beliefs, and intentions that drive other people’s behavior, and their own. Without this ability, AS children cannot make sense of the world. The world is constantly confusing them, and they go through life making mistakes because nothing makes sense (mindblindness). They cannot connect their own needs, beliefs, and intentions to experiences and positive or negative consequences, at least not on their own. Many of them are unaware that they even have this problem, even if they know they have Asperger’s.
Yet, they can learn to compensate for mindblindness with a lifetime of constant “counseling” by good teachers, parents, counselors, and therapists. Some adults with Asperger’s can read books and learn, but AS children need others to help them. With good help, they can grow up to lead nearly normal lives.

Parents and important adults must understand that their AS children must be taught to use logic to make sense of the world and the people in it, one personal situation at a time.
Here are some “rules” written by a gentleman with Asperger’s that may help you assist AS children. He named them “Rules to Make Sense” and recommends that AS children are taught them.

1) Every human behavior has a reason behind it, even if I don’t see it.

2) I will not give up my unrelenting, autistic single-mindedness until I find the reason for a behavior or until I am satisfied that I do not have enough information to find it.

3) When I find the reason, all the pieces will fall into place, and there will be no single one left that needs to find a place.

4) After I find it, I will dig further to try to disprove it.

5) If I find a single piece that doesn’t fit, then I still have a problem. Go back to step two with the problem.

6) I will force myself to accept what I have in front of me as the truth, even if I find it hard to believe.

Here are a few more facts that AS children must learn that just come naturally to most of us. Because of the mindblindness they will never just “get” these concepts.

v Most people usually talk about the things they want, and openly say what they believe.

v Women talk more than men and focus on feelings more.

v When somebody’s behavior flies in the face of logic, concentrate on his or her feelings.

v Not everyone is telling the truth.

v Not everyone will like you and that’s OK.

v Some people say what they think you want to hear to get a certain reaction from you. (AS children can be easy to manipulate by others in social settings)

v Some people are so messed up that it is just not possible to figure them out. Know when to give up.

However, you must remember some things while attempting to counsel the child.

· The AS child will take everything you say to heart. While it might not make sense now, or they may not be able to act on it or process it now, it will be filed away with them forever.

· You may say it is not appropriate behavior, or next time, do this. You cannot say to them that you hurt my/their feelings or that that was bad or naughty. While another child will shrug this off an Asperger’s child will again file this away and add it to the stress and depression he/she is most likely feeling.

· It may seem small but sometimes wording is the difference between a meltdown or causing depression and having a valuable opportunity to teach the child a lesson that will last a lifetime.

AS children want to please you. Therefore, while they may appear to be “OK” after an incident like a meltdown, an embarrassing episode or a “dressing down” in a public setting, they are not always alright. It may be because they do not want to be found different by their peers, or because they do not want to cause the person who caused the situation to feel bad themselves. These feelings are very confusing for them.

So what does this mean in terms of what a child with Asperger’s needs?
A parent or other important adult must:

o Teach the AS child to make sense of the world by himself (eventually).

o Constantly explain people’s states of mind to him and what they mean until he learns to figure them out on his own. This means explaining the wants, needs, and beliefs that drive human behavior and the reasons behind all the unwritten rules that are part of human relationships.

o Give the AS child books to read. Books on feelings may relay more information than other people ever could.

o Explain that he should ask you questions about things he doesn’t understand and do not shrug off his questions as unimportant.

o Explain his own needs to him. It is only when he understands what he wants himself that he will have a basis for understanding that others also have wants, and that peoples’ wants are what makes them behave the way they do.

o Protect the AS children from the cruelty of strangers. Some people are not going to pass up the opportunity to treat them badly. You should explain that this is going to happen, and that they should not feel ashamed to go to you for support.

o Explain that they are going to meet people that will try to convince them they are worthless. You must convince them that they can and will make a success of life. You must explain that these people are just cruel and why they do what they do – over and over.

o Explain before punishing. If you punish a child for doing A, all that he is going to learn is that if he does A again, he is going to be punished again. He will not understand why he should not do A in the first place or even remember what you punished him for. This creates an endless cycle with the child learning nothing and the adult trying to discipline becoming needlessly frustrated.

The key word is explain.

If you explain something over and over, and he never ‘gets it’, the reason could be that there is more basic knowledge that he doesn’t have in order to understand. Try rewording your explanation to offer more information. He is not in most cases trying to be purposefully disobedient. You simply haven’t given him sufficient reasoning to why his way doesn’t work. It is this constant explaining and counseling by parents, teachers, and therapists over years and years of living, repeated over and over again, that eventually will help the AS child break through the bonds of mindblindness and learn to handle life successfully, on his own.

Don’t give up; keep trying.

Monday, March 16, 2009

My Monday

Today was the day that we met with the people from Amos Cottage. A very sweet lady named Tamika came out and met Christian and we did the paperwork to get started with his evaluation. His official evaluation is next Friday March 27th. They will check his hearing and evaluate his speech. Tamika and I hit it off immediately. From what I could gather, she will be his case worker and will be making monthly visits to evaluate his progress until he is three. At age three if he still needs services, he will probably have to go the elementary school to get them. God, I love being in a hick town! NOT!

Well Thursday is our initial meeting with the school. I have already emailed them 18 pages both educating them on what Asperger's is (that is what I'm posting 1 section at a time on here) and what we need them to do. I don't think they will love me much anymore. Not that they did to start with! I don't really think it is going to matter. I'm pretty sure we are going to home school next year with the Abeka curriculum anyway. The kids just get meaner by the day!!!

Well among other things, I am happy to report that some of the people that were giving me grief have stopped. Not all mind you, but some of the most important ones! Don't ever let anyone tell you that they know more about your child than you do! And never forget you are your child's best advocate and whether they are talented or average run of the mill, they are special! Settle for nothing less than the best that is possible for your child and then praise their achievements, no matter how small!! This is the best builder of self confidence there has ever been.


Asperger's Syndrome with ADHD

Asperger’s Syndrome is sometimes overlooked when combined with ADHD unless the child, like Will, has a very high IQ. Some of the symptoms and behaviors are very much alike such as:

Ø Inability to talk or play quietly; disrupts others with talk or actions

Ø Inability to play with others (This stems from the fact they have already played out how the game is supposed to go in their minds and any deviation from how they imagined it is unacceptable.)

Ø Little to no eye contact or inability to hold someone’s gaze

Ø Seems to ignore the consequences of his actions.

Ø Inappropriate giggling or laughing

Ø Interrupts, disrupts, talks and acts inappropriately

Ø Always on the move, overactive, even during sleep

Ø Works impulsively; often makes careless mistakes: work is sloppy

This can all be summed up by the lack to control ones impulses. Both Asperger’s Syndrome and ADHD come with an inability to control even the most basic impulses that one has. When you have both, it is almost impossible.

This may present in an AS child as interrupting simply because they do not consider your feelings or what you have to say as important as what they need to tell you. It can also be quite dangerous. ADHD comes with a lack of focus or sometimes a hyper focus (which is a different kind of focusing problem). While sometimes the AS child will be unfocused and unable to concentrate enough to even repeat back to you what you just said, hyper focus is exactly the opposite and probably more dangerous to the child.

When you are hyper focused, you are so intent on what you are doing that you do not consider anything else, such as other people around you or dangers such as oncoming traffic. An AS child with ADHD can become so hyper focused on a topic or thought, that they will not consider the possible danger that they are putting their selves into.

For example, while thinking about what should be done with a lost umbrella, Will almost stepped into the road with cars coming at school. Not because he doesn’t know that he shouldn’t go into the road or because he doesn’t know to look both ways if he must cross a street, but because his mind was on returning the lost umbrella to the policeman who just happened to be standing in the road. In his mind, his only goal was to get the umbrella to the policeman because that was the most trustworthy person to return lost property to. He was so focused on this goal that he did not consider the consequences of his actions. He did not go with the intention of getting hurt or disobeying. He simply was so intent on his purpose that he didn’t consider anything else. How is this different from anyone else? Because even though he knew not to go into the road, and even though both we and school administrators talked to him about alternate solutions, he was still that afternoon focused on his task and failure to complete it (give the umbrella to the policeman) that he could not see that it was not a good choice. All he came away with is that he wanted to do this and was upset that he didn’t get to complete his undertaking. This caused him to be upset and talk about it over and over for a number of days to us at home. This was him trying to reason out what was wrong and why everyone was so upset. It was only after explaining it in a number of different ways that we finally got enough information to him to change his mind about his reasoning and get through to him.

The hyper focus can also present when he is intent on a project or assignment. If he is really hyper focused on it, you may tell him to stop or that it is time to do something else, but if he is in that state of mind, he will literally not hear you until he is done and his focus is satisfied. He may even be somewhat disoriented as to what happened between the time he started and now and why everyone around him is doing something else. If you want his attention at these times, you must gain eye contact to be assured he understands you and that the focus has been broken. Sometimes a simple touch on the shoulder will bring him back into the real world from his hyper focused activity. However, sometimes it won’t be broken until he is done.

However, there is a fundamental difference between Attention Deficit Disorder and Asperger’s Syndrome. AS children lack what doctors call "social reciprocity" or Theory of Mind (mindblindness). Theory of Mind is "the capacity to understand that other people have thoughts, feelings, motivations and desires that are different from our own."

Children with ADD have a Theory of Mind and understand other people's motives and expectations. They make appropriate eye contact and understand social cues, body language and hidden agendas in social interactions. AS children cannot do these things.

One author put it this way: children with Attention Deficit Disorder respond to behavioral modification. With Asperger Syndrome, the syndrome is the behavior.

In the next few days I will have a new blog up dealing just with mindblindness.

Friday, March 13, 2009

A Little Reminder

OK today has been very trying! I thought yesterday was my bad day, but apparently we are having a run of them. Let's just say that I am sick of people telling me that they know more about my child than I do. Or that they know more than a very large team of psychologists, my pediatrician and the numerous tests that they performed. I am also tired of hearing people tell me that it could be worse. I didn't say my situation is bad. I have a wonderful husband and 3 beautiful children, all of which are fine. It's grown ups that I don't like today! Them and the stinky, rat faced system that I am fighting to get what my baby needs! In all my anger, ironic huh that my earlier blog was about anger in my Aspie, I lost God. Once again I was trying to do things my way and in my time and once again, he sent me a message in a timely manner. Just when I needed it. So I'm going to quit ranting a reprint part of an email I just received.

The Lord is my Shepherd ---- - that's a Relationship!
I shall not want ----- that's Supply!
He maketh me to lie down in green pastures ----that's Rest!
He leadeth me beside the still waters -----that's Refreshment!
He restoreth my soul ----- that's Healing!
He leadeth me in the paths of righteousness --that's Guidance!
For His name sake ----- that's Purpose!
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death --that's Testing!
I will fear no evil ----- that's Protection!
For Thou art with me ----- that's Faithfulness!
Thy rod and Thy staff they comfort me -----that's Discipline!
Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine Enemies------that's Hope!
Thou annointest my head with oil ----- that's Consecration!
My cup runneth over ----- that's Abundance!
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my Life----that's Blessing!
And I will dwell in the house of the Lord -----that's Security!
Forever ----- that's Eternity!

These were all of the things that I was asking God for in prayer only a few minutes before the email came! Nothing like getting immediate answer's, huh?

Anger and Depression on the Spectrum

Anger and depression are both issues more common in Asperger's syndrome than in the general population. Part of the problem stems from a conflict between longings for social contact and an inability to be social in ways that attract friendships and relationships. Even young children seem to know that they are not the same as other kids and this gets emphasized in the social era of adolescence.

This leads to “trying too hard” to fit in with others. This in most cases actually puts off the very people with whom he is trying to connect. Many cases of depression, in fact, begin in adolescence. Anger, too, stems from feeling out of place and being angry at one’s circumstances in life.Ideally, the focus should be on prevention and on helping younger children with Asperger’s syndrome develop communication skills and develop a healthy self esteem. These things can create the ability to develop relationships and friendships, lessening the chances of having issues with anger or depression.

Anger in AS children often occurs due to over stimulation of the senses or a change in routine. It is often the only response the AS child knows. Anger management presents problems. They see things in black and white, which results in tantrums when they don’t get their own way, feel threatened, or overwhelmed. Some children with Asperger’s bottle up anger and turn it inward and hit or bite themselves, never revealing where the trouble is. Many people with AS are perfectionists reacting with anger when things don’t go as they wish.

Anger can also come in Asperger’s syndrome sufferers when rituals can’t get accomplished or when their need for order or symmetry can’t be met. Frustration over what does not usually bother others can lead to anger and sometimes, violent outbursts. This kind of anger is best handled through cognitive-behavioral therapy that focuses on maintaining control in spite of the frustration of not having their needs met. Will begins this therapy on April 7th. While it is better to teach communication skills and self esteem to the younger children, communication skills and friendship skills can be taught to teens or even adults that can eliminate some of the social isolation they feel. This can avert or reverse depression and anger symptoms.The truth is that some Asperger’s syndrome patients become so depressed that they commit suicide. The challenge becomes recognizing these individuals before they do harm and getting them into therapy or starting medications for depressions or for obsessive compulsive symptoms so that tragedy can be avoided.
Will is not violent. While he does on occasion have an angry outburst his anger is almost always directed inward. We have had a few, and I mean 2 or 3 ever, times that he has showed any aggression toward Christian. He is a very good big brother and seems to connect better with Christian than anyone else. I must also mention that he is very kind and helpful with Matthew. I have noticed though, that sometimes his reactions with them are totally inappropriate. For example if Christian falls down, Will smiles at him while in a very sing song type of baby talk asks him if he is OK. He is concerned for his well being, but his expression and tone are all wrong.

If nothing else I want everyone to know what a good boy he is and how hard he tries.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

I'm sure I won't always be able to blog so many times a day, but right now there's just always so much on my mind that needs to be said.

Yesterday was just a rough day. I know we are going to have them, but you just don't always see them coming. It wasn't a catastrophic event of any kind, it was just a lot of things that made up the whole rotten, fishy smelling day!

Well, let's see to start with, no one slept good the night before. Will had a nightmare, those are getting more frequent. He is afraid his TV is going to turn on by itself and he is afraid of it. I have to cover it with a blanket every night before he will go to sleep. I tried to get him to let me take it out if he's afraid of it, I thought it made sense, but the conversation went kind of like this:

Me: If you're afraid of it, why don't we take it out of your room.
Him: But how would I watch theater TV? (theater tv is where you lie in bed in the dark and watch tv(ultimately he always falls asleep))
Me: You could always go watch in your brother's room.
Him: Mommy, don't you realize I am much more advanced than Christian.
Me: Yes, but sometimes you watch TV with him.
Him: That's because he will watch what I tell him to, but he really doesn't know how to appreciate my shows. He likes Spongebob, but he's not old enough to know how good it really is.

(Apparently neither am I.)

Me: Well what would make you feel better?
Him: I'll think about it and get back to you with an answer.
Me: OK well what can we do until you come up with an answer.
Him: Just keep covering it with the blanket for now. It's not a solution, but it will have to do until I find one.

OK, whose 7 year old talks like that??

So, Christian didn't sleep well again. But unlike Will, he can't tell me what's going on. He keeps waking up about 2 to 3 times a night. I'm pretty sure it's either nightmares or he's just scared when he wakes up alone because when you go in in there and cover him back up he goes right back to sleep.

Matthew is actually my best sleeper, but he was even up about every hour and a half wanting a bottle.

Needless to say I was tired. So after being out of school for two extra days you can imagine what a time I had getting Will out of bed and ready for school. He got up at 6:45 and still wasn't dressed by 7:15. I was feeding Matthew and hadn't realized how long had passed until I got finished. I put Matt down and ran to his room. The bus comes at 7:30 and he still hadn't had breakfast. He was sitting in the middle of his floor with only underwear and one sock on. He was leaning back against his bed with his eyes closed almost asleep. I told him to shake a leg, so he did. He shook the leg with the bare foot on it like it was being electrocuted. I rephrased my command and got him to the table to eat his granola bar and drink his juice. This week is granola bar all week. You can't switch his breakfast without plenty of advanced notice or it will screw up his entire world! We finally got dressed, ate, got our book bag and made the bus just in time.

Whew time to rest a minute, Matthew was asleep. Then Christian got up. My butt had just hit the couch, I think he has a radar. So, I got him up and got his "bites" for him. Anything to eat has become "bites". So I started washing dishes and bottles and cranked up the coffee pot with high test. He ate and watched cartoons till Craig got home from work. The rest of the day went fairly smooth. Then 3 pm came and with it brought the bus.

He got off the bus and the bus was still sitting there. I could see Ms. Scarlet the bus driver turning around to have "prayer" with some kids on the bus. Will walked very slowly in the house and when we asked what was going on on the bus he said"How did you know something happened on the bus?" and started squalling. We were inquiring about why the bus was still sitting in the road when he was already in the house. He proceeded to tell us that older kids were picking him up an carrying him back to the front of the bus. All the K-3 are supposed to sit in the front, but he thought since he was as smart as a 5th grader according to his tests that he could go back there. It made sense to him, but the older kids didn't want him back there.

I asked how the rest of his day was. He pulled 3 cards, all for talking and interrupting. I want to just scream. He has Asperger's and ADHD some days he just can't help it. I know he has to learn not to do it, but it has got to where it feels like they are just punishing him for having blue eyes! Anyway, he was upset about being on "blue" and then he told me about the playground. He wanted someone at school to push him on the swings and the little girls told him if he would run behind the swings 100 times without getting hit, they would push him. He said "So I did it 10 times and had to start over when I got hit and then I was out of time." I had to actually explain to him that that means they don't want to play. I asked him what did the teachers do when he got hit. (He had a scrape and a bruise on his arm) "They said just go play." He's just having a hard time and the school is not helping at all.

We got through that and started homework. Craig had been up all day, so he had to go to bed. Will kept complaining that he was tired and didn't want to do it. Craig's mom, Nona, was coming to pick him and Christian up to go to her house and play for a while so he had to get homework done or he couldn't go. Nona night is once a week, usually on Thursday night. So he plowed through his homework and actually had just finished when Nona got here.

They went to Nona's and I sat down at the computer for a few minutes with Matthew to chill. When Matthew went to sleep, I laid him down and started trying to pick up some of the toys and stuff out of the floor. I found Christian's lost shoe. (I had been looking for it all day and found it inside my shoe) Well when they got home, both got a bath and we were doing the whole bedtime thing, including the nightly conversation about the tv. I got halfway back down the hall and heard Will yelling, "Mommy".

I went back to his room. He assured me that he wasn't going to be able to sleep because the idog's spots kept coming and going. This is our newest stall tactic, so I took the idog with me. Then he called he needed a drink. Then it was to tell me "I love you" I put them down before 8:30 but it was probably about 9:45 before he went to sleep. I finally sat down and started watching tv and Matthew woke up for a bottle.........

I swear it is never ending!!

How Does an Asperger's Child Think

Children with Asperger’s Syndrome may have underdeveloped areas in the brain that cause problems in: communication(not talking, but actually communicating thought effectively), learning appropriate social skills and responses, understanding the thoughts and feelings of others, and focusing on “the real world,” as opposed to becoming absorbed in their own thoughts and obsessions.
Those with Asperger’s are often extremely literal in their interpretation of others’ conversations, for example, they may wonder if cats and dogs are really raining down or think there are two suns when someone talks about two sons. They are unable to recognize differences in speech tone, pitch, and accent that alter the meaning of what others’ say. They often do not understand a joke or take a sarcastic comment literally. Often to cover the fact that they don’t understand, they will attempt (and I stress attempt) humor over the subject in an effort to avoid the stress and awkwardness they feel at not understanding. These children are naturally bright and are not used to finding something in which they do not excel. These things that confuse them tend to cause much frustration and anger.
Learning social skills for children with Asperger’s Syndrome (AS) is like learning a foreign language. A child with AS is often unable to recognize non-verbal communication that other children learn without formal instruction. Some examples are: not understanding the appropriate distance to stand from another person when talking (personal space or touching), how to tell when someone does not want to listen any longer, and how to interpret facial expressions.
Many AS children will be highly aware of right and wrong and will bluntly announce what is wrong. They will recognize others’ shortcomings, but not their own. Consequently, the behavior of those with Asperger’s is likely to be inappropriate through no fault of their own.
Children with AS need routine and predictability to give them a sense of safety and stability. Change can cause stress and too much change can lead to meltdowns (tantrums). Changes that are stressful for them are: a different teacher at school, a new routine, doing things in a different order (e.g.; putting pants on before a shirt), going to the bathroom at someone else’s home, changing a bedroom curtain or the color of the walls, to name a few. Routines and predictability help them remain calm.
Their thinking may be totally focused on only one or two interests, about which they are very knowledgeable. Many children with Asperger’s syndrome are interested in parts of a whole (intricate jigsaw puzzles), designing houses, video games, drawing highly detailed scenes, astronomy, the computer, insects, trains, and many more. Because their brains are so obsessed by their interest, they may talk only about it, even when others are carrying on a conversation on a different topic. They will often try to incorporate their interests into that topic to fit into the group.
AS children notice details, rather than the “whole” picture. The importance of the detail prevents the AS child from understanding the bigger picture, so instructions may get lost in their focus on a single detail. A lesson at school may be totally ignored in favor of a fly on the wall. Multiple instructions are extremely difficult for these children to retain and follow.
AS children are not able to access their frontal cortex or prefrontal lobe efficiently, so they must call on social skills from their memories. If a social skill has not been taught, they won’t have it. Consequently, turn taking, imagination, conversation, and other’s points of view cause AS children great difficulty. The AS person may be unable to realize consequences outside his or her way of thinking. In addition, they cannot recognize when someone is lying to them or trying to take advantage. Most have trouble in a school setting often for these reasons. They need a teacher, parent or other trusted adult to watch out for others for them, as they will often follow along with anyone who promises friendship or appears to give them the social acceptance they crave. With AS children, peer pressure takes on a whole new meaning.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

What is Asperger's?????

Asperger's syndrome is considered a form of high-functioning autism. The outlook for children with Asperger's tends to be much more positive than with many other forms of autism. Because much of Hans Asperger's work was lost in WWII, this autism spectrum disorder did not become widely known until the 1980s when Lorna Wing, a British researcher, published a paper called Asperger's syndrome: a clinical account.

Marie Curie, Albert Einstein, and Mozart are among some of the intellectual giants that have been suspected to have had Asperger’s Syndrome. Some people also believe that Bill Gates, Shakespeare, Jane Austen, Charles Darwin, Galileo, Pablo Picasso, Benjamin Franklin, Margaret Mead and Aristotle are also in the club.Dr. Asperger believed these "little professors" had problems understanding other people. They tended to be overly logical and rigid, sometimes moralistic in their viewpoints. They had trouble understanding metaphors. As Dr. Asperger and others after him continued to study the syndrome, they were able to pinpoint other traits AS children have in common. Some are clumsy and uncoordinated. They have trouble with self-care and tasks like tying their shoes or buttoning. Others have problems controlling their voices. They speak too loudly or in whispers; they have unusual inflections or monotones. They tend to have unusual and inappropriate facial expressions as well as inappropriate reactions to social situations.

Many AS children have trouble with sensory integration. They may overreact to loud noises or bright lights. They may be overwhelmed by the inside of a Wal-Mart with all the people, displays, lights and stimulation. They may cope with the stress by repeating certain behaviors to soothe themselves. Self-soothing may include elaborate rituals or "rules," such as wearing a certain item of clothing all the time, always sleeping with their lucky blanket or always eating from the same restaurant.

However, the trait that causes AS children the most difficulty in life is their inability to pick up on other people's social cues and to respond appropriately. Unlike traditionally autistic people, AS children often are very interested in other people and want to make and keep friends, however, they have to learn social interactions on an intellectual level instead of just picking them up naturally the way others do. For example, when a friend is wearing an ugly new shirt but seems very happy about it, most people will lie and say how nice the shirt looks. An AS child may believe that the friend wants an honest answer to: "How do you like my shirt?" This as you can imagine does not win any friends. For this reason, AS children may constantly want feedback from the people in their lives. They may ask things such as, "Did I say something rude?" because they really do not know if they did or not.

In 1994 Asperger’s Syndrome became part of the official "Bible" of American medicine, The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM). This is the big reference book doctors keep on their desks when they diagnose mental disease.In order to be diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome, a person must show two of these problems:

"Marked impairment" regarding nonverbal social cues (doesn't make eye contact, doesn't understand others' body language, etc);

Failure to make friends;

Lack of appropriate social and emotional responses to others; or

Inability to spontaneously share enjoyment, interests and achievements with other people.

In addition, the person must show one of these behaviors:

An abnormal and intense interest in one subject;

Adherence to a strict set of rules, routines and rituals;

Repetition of certain mannerisms like hand flapping, hair twisting or even whole body movements

An obsession in the parts or mechanics of objects.

Asperger’s Syndrome is considered one of five "Pervasive Developmental Disorders" within the spectrum of autism. It is a lifelong condition and occurs in boys four times as often as girls. Because AS children are not mentally retarded, doctors usually do not diagnose them until they are in the early elementary school grades.

Here We Go

Well this is my first official blog. I am blogging while trying to get through our second grade homework. For those of you who don't know us, Will has Asperger's Syndrome. This is a high functioning form of autism. He has an IQ of 123 at 7 years old. He also has ADHD. Now imagine trying to keep his attention long enough to do work so boring that he could have done it in kindergarten. Yep, every afternoon, Monday through Friday, 3-5 or 6 you'll find us at the dining room table struggling to get "our" homework done. Christian usually does his "homework" from his high chair with a pencil and some of Will's sheets that have already been graded and Matthew hangs out in the portable swing and watches the toys and lights overhead. He does have some challenge work from time to time, but basically, public school just doesn't know what to do with him!

Most days Craig, who works third shift, gets up about 5:30 and takes over homework if we're not done so I can start dinner. But because of therapy, doctor's appointments and school functions, our schedules are disrupted quite alot. We try to keep day to day pretty scheduled. It helps everyone, especially Will. He does not do change well!

In the next few blogs, I'm going to try to put up some things to help you understand what Asperger's is and what my "Aspie" faces in a world where things just don't make sense.

I hope you guys find this interesting and I find it cathartic!