View Full Version : Questions about Asperger's symptoms


OnlyMe
05-21-10, 04:10 PM
My eldest has some of the symptoms of Asperger's; but not all, and my husband and I disagree on some of them. DS functions pretty well, but has some social difficulties; and many difficulties with being flexible and generalizing. He's just now in sixth grade, in middle school.

1. Regarding the narrow obsessive interests, I have three sort of subquestions:

a.) How narrow do they have to be, he was pretty well fascinated by WWII in elementary school, but has gradually broadened this interest to all sorts of wars. (BTW, not the sort of narrow interest most approved of by schools, they dislike talk of wars, guns, bombs etc.)

b.)How obsessive do they have to be? My husband says DS interest can't be Asperger's obsessive because DS can't name all the tanks and ships of WWII by their silhouettes alone.

c.)Can the child also have other interests, DS also loves computer games and reading many kinds of books, though he didn't read fiction willingly until forth grade.

2. How clueless does a child have to be? DS understands puns and jokes, he understands some social rules, though many have taken explicit explaining. For instance, I recently had to explain why asking for a gift back was rude; and why it was less rude to family than to friends. Also when a teacher sent him to the office last week using the phrase "the office window" instead of "the student window" DS didn't understand where he was supposed to go; and when he asked got treated like a smartypants, which I'm sure is what it sounded like.

3. DS is affectionate and loving toward family and loves to snuggle. Does this make an ASD unlikely?

DS also has depression and mild ADHD, for both of which he takes medicines.

Lunacie
05-21-10, 05:36 PM
I don't know as much about Asperger's as I do about HF Autism, but here's what I understand. The child doesn't have to memorize names of objects by shape alone - the issue is that the child is focused on just one topic at a time (changing over time to different topics or broadening to include related topics), and brings that topic up in nearly every discussion.

And yes, the child may take an interest in other things and even enjoy other things, but not with the same focus or interest as the main passion.

There is generally some amount of taking things literally, but many Asperger's folks do learn to enjoy a joke when they do get it.

My granddaughter has been diagnosed with Atypical Autism because she does better at looking at others and making eye contact at least briefly than many Autists do. I don't know if there is a category of Atypical Asperger's, but I do know that all these categories are pretty broad and no one actually fits all the criteria exactly.

Maybe someone who actually has experience with Asperger's will add their perspective too.

Scooter77
05-21-10, 06:01 PM
Hi onlyme,
My son is 7 and he has Aspergers and ADHD. ASD's are on a spectrum so it does range in severity. If you have a family history then it is likely that there will be traits in other family members. My son was diagnosed at 4 for various reasons, a lot of people didnt think there was anything wrong with him. Now at 7 it's a lot more obvious, he's pretty textbook, he has a very distinctive style and an odd sense of humour. But he's not as black and white as Aspergers is portrayed in the media. Tony Atwood is the guru, get yourself his book for a read, it's well worth it.
a.) How narrow do they have to be, he was pretty well fascinated by WWII in elementary school, but has gradually broadened this interest to all sorts of wars. (BTW, not the sort of narrow interest most approved of by schools, they dislike talk of wars, guns, bombs etc.) My son is Lego mad, before that it was Thomas the Tank Engine, but there's other things he likes too. The difference is that he will spend all day, every day playing lego if I let him.

b.)How obsessive do they have to be? My husband says DS interest can't be Asperger's obsessive because DS can't name all the tanks and ships of WWII by their silhouettes alone.Nah, this is the way they are shown on TV but not all are like this, my son could you tell you a lot more than you would want to know about certain topics but that doesnt mean he knows all the fine details.

c.)Can the child also have other interests, DS also loves computer games and reading many kinds of books, though he didn't read fiction willingly until forth grade. Definitely, Lego is the main one but there's also the playstation, Indiana Jones, Simspons etc....

2. How clueless does a child have to be? DS understands puns and jokes, he understands some social rules, though many have taken explicit explaining. For instance, I recently had to explain why asking for a gift back was rude; and why it was less rude to family than to friends. Also when a teacher sent him to the office last week using the phrase "the office window" instead of "the student window" DS didn't understand where he was supposed to go; and when he asked got treated like a smartypants, which I'm sure is what it sounded like. This is often the most obvious symptom, my son doesnt get jokes or puns, they need to be explained to him. He also doesnt understand if people use different words than what he's used to. He has a very distinct way of talking, he pronounces his words very carefully. I often need to explain why it's inappropriate to say certain things to other people.

3. DS is affectionate and loving toward family and loves to snuggle. Does this make an ASD unlikely? Not at all, my son is very cuddly towards certain family members. It's other people that are the problem, he often won't stay in the same room with people that he doesnt know.

DS also has depression and mild ADHD, for both of which he takes medicines.[/quote] Yeah, Aspergers and ADHD here

OnlyMe
05-21-10, 07:42 PM
It was Tony Atwood's book that brought the whole thing up between my husband and I; I read the description and symptoms and said "This is my boy!": my husband read it and said "Nope, not my kid." So we discussed why, we both agree that he has fine and gross motor problems and sensory issues but we disagreed on some of the other things. One of my nephews is diagnosed HFA, he is much more noticable as different than my boy though.

fracturedstory
05-27-10, 03:26 AM
My interests is all I think of, even when I'm not spending time on them.
Autistics without the ADHD have very detailed memories. A trait that I often questioned if I was autistic or not.

When I was younger I would only have one or two interests at a certain time. I loved drawing cats and dogs and could really only draw them really well. Then it was The Lion King. Then it was Goosebumps books, 3d animation, web/graphic design, communism (I was a teenager by then), music, photography, science etc.
I have about 7 main interests now.

I was very very literal thinking as a child. It took me awhile to understand something said if it wasn't explained straightforward. Always the last to get jokes and rack my brain over catch phrases and figure of speech.

Autistic kids can be affectionate. I only am with my mum. The bond of an autistic child and their mother is a dear thing.

What about:
adjusting to change, routines, repetitive behaviour, OCD-like behaviour, meltdowns, stimming/ hand flapping and lack of theory of mind (understanding people).

Oh and HFA is far more noticeable than AS. The physical expressions and even body posture is more noticeable. AS usually have an awkward gait, HFA do not. I have to wear shoes to make me standing up straight.

OnlyMe
05-27-10, 09:49 AM
fracturedstory, thank you for your experience :)

DS

Does have trouble with changes, though he's getting somewhat more flexible. When we do change something that he objects to, he has a timeframe of about a week before it becomes normal and then he's perfectly happy again. A lot of small things are just fine now, he has no trouble with running an errand after school rather than going straight home (I pick him up, as buses were a disaster for him). We can interrupt him and ask him to do some small chore around the house without a disaster.

I haven't noticed repetitive behavior or stimming except for that he hums without noticing it, all the time. And he chews his fingernails, I haven't had to trim them since he was a baby. Does that count?

No OCD behavior, as far as I can tell.

Meltdowns definitely, he has them when he percieves a logical conflict. His meltdowns consist of withdrawing, often into a fetal position and verbally rehearsing that "things don't make sense" or that two things/ideas are incompatible and it's impossible to get a certain result. He had two yesterday, one at school where the science teacher told him to use a certain computer, but a group of kids was clustered around that computer and he didn't have the skills to get them to listen. When he asked the teacher for help with the kids, he didn't get it. So he was stuck with "I have to use this computer" "I can't the kids are in the way" and went into a complete meltdown where he couldn't obey the teacher's order to go to the hall for a timeout or the vice principal's order to come to the office. He ended up in in-school suspension; but didn't understand until we showed him the email from the vice principal that it was an in-school suspension. We call these problems his "loops" because he gets stuck in logic loops, do you have any tips on getting out of these loops?

He definitely has trouble understanding people sometimes, but can understand other times. He's better about making eye contact than he used to be, and that helps because he can see expressions better.

Justtess
05-28-10, 03:19 AM
We call these problems his "loops" because he gets stuck in logic loops, do you have any tips on getting out of these loops?
:eek: My son does this too. When he was younger, elementary school aged, he used to get stuck in such thoughts as: I didn't mean for the book to hurt him therefore it cannot possibly hurt the other person. They are crying to get me in trouble. or I didn't hear the teacher say I cannot start the test therefore he didn't say it and I don't think the teacher likes me, that's why he is upset with me. Because this is part of his paradigm, and I want to avoid an argument with him, I feel I have to flip his logic and say "people cry when something hurts. When a book hits your head it will hurt." repeat again when a similar incident happens. I think this occurs because he has a hard time seeing his cause and effect relationship in his actions. If he reads a book, he can determine cause/effect quite well if it isn't about him. Catching him and repeating the possibility of his actions causing others to hurt has been very difficult because after some time has passed, he won't remember what exactly happend and he's quite sure about his conclusion to the situation.

I have been wondering about asperger symptoms with my son too. I had an opportunity to ask a neighborhood friend about the possibility as she works with autistic and asperger dx children and has known my son for many years. She had told me she had seen many asperger-like behavior, however, they were not as profound as the children she works with and tries to explain that he can function in a regular classroom eventhough teachers may find him very fustrting to direct sometimes. She thought his behavior fit more like the other twice exceptional students in his class.

Do you think you have an opportunity to ask a teacher who specializes in autistic/asperger children to observe your son informally?

insight needed
05-28-10, 07:05 AM
Onlyme, I have only a minute to reply before I have to get ready for work, but it sounds like your son has many characteristics of Aspergers. As noted the term "autism spectrum" is used because symptoms vary from mild to severe. Needing to have social concepts and "rules" explained is very classic of people on the autism spectrum. Being rigid and overly concerned with rules (especially over other people not obeying the rules) is common. Not having the skills to "break into" a group of children to ask to play (or use the computer) is common. Again, because the symptoms exist on a spectrum, it is difficult to say "how clueless" one needs to be. I think that bright kids with Aspergers can understand some of the basic social rules, but then have difficulties generalizing them to other similar situation (because if they are not exactly the same, they don't even see them as similar).

IMO, it would be to your son's benefit to have him evaluated. Is he already identified/receiving special education services? If not, requesting, in writing, a comprehensive evaluation would be the place to start. Request that the evaluation include an evaluation by the speech/language pathologist. You may be saying to yourself that he has no trouble talking (and may even have a somewhat adult manner of speaking) but a speech therapist will evaluate for deficits in pragmatic/social language, which includes things like understanding words with double meaning, idioms, making predictions, drawing inferences etc. In the school where I work, the speech therapist has small groups that work specifically on social language and social skills.

The result of the evalation may be a diagnosis and the opportunity to receive some special education services, possibly including speech therapy for social language deficits. Special education does not necessarily mean that your son would be placed in a special class for some or part of the day. In fact the law requires that children be served in the least restrictive environment (which is the regular ed. classroom) that will meet their needs. It could mean though that he would have an IEP in which there are certain accomodations to help him to cope in the classroom. It can also be a way in which teachers are made aware of his needs and skill deficits so that he is not punished for things that arise from his diagnosis and are not deliberate mis-behaviours on his part.