Autism: C'hele's Story

May 14, 2007

Autism: I’m Not A Bad Parent! I’m A Parent Of A Child With Asperger’s Syndrome ~ Conclusion

Filed under: Aspberger Syndrome, Autism, Special Needs — C'hele @ 16:28

In Conclusion,

Other interesting things to note about people with Aspergers Syndrome:

1. AS people have the tendency to develop high anxiety disorders (for obvious reasons stated in previous posts) and may require medication for such.

2. AS people “know” that their different and may later in life suffer from depression as a result of this awareness. They understand that they think differently from others and for some AS people, this is a constant source of frustration and anger for them. Some AS teenagers and adults often become suicidal. I know; I spoke with an incredibly bright AS teenager who once admitted to me that he often entertained suicidal thoughts periodically in his life. His hard work and determination to succeed, eventually won him a scholarship to a very popular college here in the lower mainland.

3. AS people are often observed as Obsessive Compulsive. These obsessions often relieves their anxiety and is comforting for them. They like to have things done or placed in a certain manner (always). For example, AS children will often arrange their toys every night in a certain way and are unable to go to bed or to sleep until this has been done. They may have the need to wear the same baseball cap every single day or wear the same clothing only each day. You cannot force them change their needs! But you can assist in attempting to gently re-direct them. Help these kids to be comfortable and wisely pick and choose your battles. By doing so, life is more enjoyable and less stressful for everybody involved.

4. AS children may require medication to help improve concentration and impulsivity issues for school. This is a good thing: you want your child to succeed right? How is he or she able to do this when they have so many neurological impulses to overcome that is simply beyond their control?

5. Asperger’s Syndrome and Autism and Related Disorders is permanent Neurological damage. In my experience, it cannot be controlled strictly by diet, nutrition and health supplements. For ten years I worked in the alternative health realm and NOTHING worked to help cure or decrease the symptoms or characteristics of ASD in Michaela. The secret to success, is understanding the disorder itself.

6. Knowing the nature of ASD/Autism, how it works, and what it does to the people it affects is the secret to having less stress in life.  Attempt to learn and understand these people’s strengths and deficiencies, their talents and limitations. Most ASD/Autistic people are visual learners…learn how to use visual aids. Some parents consider this to be degrading. I consider it to be a god-send. It allows the child a sense of predictability (thus decreasing their stress and anxiety), decreases melt-downs from sudden transitions and supports independence. I have a “Job Board” that I made for my daughter of chores she needs to complete each day. If I just “told” her what to do? She would forget it in a minute due to distractibility and impulsivity issues or, it would become a power-struggle as “I am telling her what to do.“ Remember: these kids are aware of their challenges and may be more oversensitive to “instruction” than typical kids. For children without any formal diagnosis but questions of the possibility of autism, many might consider the child to have ODD/Oppositional Defiance Disorder when they may not. Using picture symbols of jobs needing done, I set them out with Velcro on a clip board and Michaela completes everything on the board, in any order she wishes. Upon a completed job, Caela then places the picture symbol in a “finished” envelope. Because she is so disorientated every morning before school, I have visual symbols taped to closets and drawers that tell her where certain clothes are. In a small way this helps decrease her frustration level and supports independent dressing. Over time, I have minimized many visual supports around the house when I have observed that she no longer needs them.

7. People with Asperger’s Syndrome (and other Autistic related disorders) often display what some may consider to be ticks. This may look like repetitive sounds or repetitive physical movements that they do over and over again. Some ticks that my daughter has displayed in the past have been: clicking her tongue non-stop, moving her head to the right in a jerk-like motion non-stop, repeating certain words constantly, constant shivering, strange facial expressions made repetitively, and making animal sounds like barking for no reason. Some have observed their child to rock back and forth when sitting. All of these are signals that they are stressed out or experiencing high anxiety in some manner. It’s important to watch for this kind of body language, take note of the environment, and do what you can to decrease their stress level.

These kids are not intentionally weird or seeking attention. When they display this kind of behaviour, the ability to control the neurological impulses is impossible. It is their body’s way of dealing with anxiety and stress.

8. I cannot stress enough, the importance of early intervention! When you observe odd behaviour, it is “not” the time to bury your head in the sand and pretend that a possible disorder is not there. In the long run, when we do this, our children suffer the most. If I didn’t take action when Caela was three or so, she would have been so far behind cognitively and too set in her ways to benefit from assistance when older. The best thing we could ever give to these children is the gift of fostering independence with a whole lot of patience, understanding and most of all, love.

Remember above all:

Just because a child or adult “appears to look normal,” it doesn’t mean that a disorder or challenge is not there. That’s why AS and many other disabilities are considered to be an invisible disability. With a bit of compassion, keep that in mind the next time your in a public place and walk by a child in the throes of a melt-down and the parent(s) look distraught. And when a parent tells you that his or her child has ASD and the child appears to act completely normal? Reach over and give them a pat on the back for hard work well done. They are to be commended for their fortitude, determination, dedication and love for their child!

C’hele

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