Friday, October 16, 2009

Friday Lesson and Bragging

My son has Aspergers Syndrome, which is a form of Autism. I have known about this since 2006 and have done everything I could to help him. Weekly therapy appointments, specialized services in school, even planning selling my house and not moving until it was a good time for him. His father on the other hand, doesn't believe in the diagnosis and doesn't apply any of the interventions that help him. Here is some info on Aspergers Syndrome (AS) and some of Son's symptoms:
Characteristics of Asperger Syndrome:
Each person is different. An individual might have all or only some of the described behaviors to have a diagnosis of AS.

These behaviors include the following:

  • Marked impairment in the use of multiple nonverbal behaviors such as: eye gaze, facial expression, body posture, and gestures to regulate social interaction.
  • Extreme difficulty in developing age-appropriate peer relationships. (e.g. AS children may be more comfortable with adults than with other children).

Son doesn't have a "best" friend but he does play with kids in the neighborhood pretty well. They are younger than him. If you get him with his classmates, things don't go as well. But the school is working on this with him.

  • Inflexible adherence to routines and perseveration.

Son is getting better with changing the schedule around but it used to be that I could not change ANYTHING without him loosing it. He just could not change things in his mind and feel secure with things.

  • Fascination with maps, globes, and routes.

When he was 2, he would give me directions to the babysitters every morning. I thought it was cute that he could do that. He also loved the map of the US that was in his room. He spent hours staring at it and memorizing it.

  • Superior rote memory.

He can recite almost anything back to you. AND he can remember details of almost every outing we have been on. SCARY!

  • Preoccupation with a particular subject to the exclusion of all others. Amasses many related facts.

AS kids seem to have a particular fascination with trains, cars and making lines of things. Son has been in love with trains since he was tiny and still is. He loves Thomas but is getting away from that a bit. He loves the big trains and can give you details about how they are different from each other and how to drive them. He also has every Matchbox and Hot Wheels car ever made and loves to line them up all over the house.

  • Difficulty judging personal space, motor clumsiness.

Son was always too close to people and definitely will not be a ballerina. :) He is getting better about judging the personal space and no longer has a special gym class to help with his clumsiness.

  • Sensitivity to the environment, loud noises, clothing and food textures, and odors.

This is a big one. Son doesn't mind the fire engine sirens but when the nuclear siren would do their test, he would FREAK. I used to think it was because of his ear problems but apparently its from AS. He will not wear jeans, prefers elastic pants or sweats. His food cannot be too hot or too cold and NO GREEN! And it cannot be to hard to chew. This is the most frustrating for me because I want him to eat well and because I LOVE food and know what wonderful things he is missing out on!

  • Speech and language skills impaired in the area of semantics, pragmatics, and prosody (volume, intonation, inflection, and rhythm).

Son is LOUD. The teachers at school think its because of his ear problems but I disagree. When his ears are normal, he is still loud. He also tends to talk fairly monotone, this has gotten better and he is learning to put feeling into his stories.

  • Difficulty understanding others' feelings.

Son had NO empathy for anyone or anything. One of the goals for his therapy was to teach him empathy. Now, there are times that I think he is too sensitive. But at least he is considering other peoples feelings.

  • Pedantic, formal style of speaking; often called "little professor," verbose.

Again, he uses BIG words (I thought it was because I didn't talk "baby" to him) and enjoys lecturing people on his favorite subjects.

  • Extreme difficulty reading and/or interpreting social cues.

Son still has difficulty with this. There are times when he will burst out laughing when it is TOTALLY inappropriate. This will take time for him to learn and with all the different situations that could happen, may never be perfect.

  • Socially and emotionally inappropriate responses.

Son has trouble with this. He still has meltdowns over little things. But he is working on this as well.

  • Literal interpretation of language. difficulty comprehending implied meanings.

Son still has trouble recognizing sarcasm. And I like sarcasm so he gets a workout with me!

  • Extensive vocabulary. Reading commences at an early age (hyperlexia).

Son didn't start reading at an early age but he does have a good vocabulary, thanks to Mom!

  • Stereotyped or repetitive motor mannerisms.

Thankfully, he doesn't have any of theses that I have recognized.

  • Difficulty with "give and take" of conversation.

He definitely monopolizes the conversations and interrupts with his own thoughts. We are working on this.

So the reason for this lesson on AS and my son? Next week I have a meeting with the child study team to determine his services for the remainder of the school year. I was reviewing the current plan as well as the website for ideas of interventions that might benefit him.

Also, I wanted to brag about him. I received a WONDERFUL email yesterday from one of his teachers and wanted to share. The AS lesson was background to try and help you to realize that I am not only PROUD of my child, I am floating on a cloud because of the words from the teacher. Email:

Hi Amy,

I wanted to let you know that Jacob's behavior this year has been outstanding!!! He is polite, well mannered, and has an excellent attitude. He has been completing all work when asked. It is amazing how much he has improved since he started in 4th grade last fall!


My son may have a disability but he is willing to work on his problems to fit in and succeed! His disability doesn't stop him from doing much and when it does, we work together to find a way to work around that.


  1. Wow - kudos to son and you for that email and vote of confidence. You're doing an exceptional job, MOM - hats off, and you have my respect and my prayers.

    The Old Silly

  2. Yay Amy! you are doing such a great job with him, and you are such a strong fighter for him. You are a hero to him!

  3. Sorry that it has taken me so long to get back in touch with you, but somehow I managed to loose you on my Dashboard! I'll have to make sure that it stays put!
    You are doing a brilliant job with your son, and it must be really hard for you at times. I don't know much about AS, except for what I have read, but I do have a friend who is dyslexic and has managed really well. He writes me e-mails everyday, and, although they are short, I can understand him. I think using a key board has helped him a lot by looking at the different letters, but he still can't get his words out properly.
    These are the people who are the real fighters in life. Nothing ever gets him down, and I really admire the patience and dedication involved in people like these.
    Jacob is doing really well, so just keep on doing whatever it is that you do with him. He will find his own way, with your guidance, and grow into a fine young man!
    Thoughts are with you!


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