Thursday, February 26, 2009

Telling Your Child About His/Her Aspergers Diagnosis

In my search of other autism blogs, I came across "Life With Aspergers" which discussed the topic, "When should I tell my son about his diagnosis of Aspergers?" This question really resonates with me, and I'll tell you why:

I think it's important to tell children when they're old enough to understand, but I also agree with the concern that we dont' leave the child subsequently feeling "defective." In the case of the original article, the question was asked by the parent of a 7 year old. At 7, the child probalby doesn't feel too different from other children. I didn't at 7. In fact, though I felt sometimes lonely in high school, it wasn't til my senior year in high school that I realized something was "wrong" with me. This feeling was greatly enhanced in college, because I went to a rather homogenous school and REALLY didn't fit in. Not knowing anything about Aspergers (or not even realizing that people think differently!) I had no way to pin down what, exactly, was "wrong." I couldn't figure it out, and until I discovered about Aspergers I really did feel bad about myself. Frustrated with myself. At times, disgusted even.

Before senior year, I thought everyone was like me. Thought and felt the same way. I was lonely at times, but had my one or two quirky friends (depending on the year) and so I didn't feel too left out. Besides, I knew that the other kids had money and I didn't. There's only so much you can do with other girls (who like to shop) when you're broke and even less you can do with the guys (when you're waiting for marriage).

But college was tough. And I think knowing about Aspergers would have helped. Had anyone known about it back then.

When I look back now at what I have accomplished, I am thankful to be so far ahead of where I should be professionally, socially, and in my family life. Most people I've met in Aspergers/Autism groups aren't doing as well as I am doing. They haven't learned to cope as well (that sounds weird given how FAR I have yet to go) and they haven't learned how to survive in my type of job (again, I still have FAR to go!). I'm not trying to brag or anything because (trust me) I still need a LOT of work. But I've been blessed and rather than being so upset that I'm not like everyone else, I am learning to appreciate my differneces and praise Him for how far He's brought me.

So, I said allthat to say: If I had a 7 year old, I may not tell him "you've got Asperger's" but I might start pointing out ways in which he things, processes, communicates, settles himself, differently than others. If he has anger problems like I did, I would begin to point that out and tell him how very much like his mother he is. I suspect as he ages, I would give him more information, but allow him to take it at a pace he can handle.

Of course, I can say this- I don't have a 7 year old. Anyone out there care to share your thougths on why you did/didn't tell your child about his/her diagnosis?

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

75 of Us

I am enjoying this new blog thing, but was having trouble finding other autism blogs. I did some searches on autism, and searched for people on blogger whose profiles reflected an interest in autism. But most of those were parents. I was looking for Aspies or Auties themselves. Not their NT parents. Well, I searched on "Neurodiversity" and guess what?

There are 75 bloggers (on blogger) whose profiles include the word "Neurodiversity" in their interests. I love it when the numbers work out to "even groupings" of 5 like that. ;-)

Unfortunately, I've only visited 10 so far, and most have blogspot (not blogger), so I'm at a loss as to how to get their blogs in my "blogs I follow" list so I can easily see all the recent posts. No matter. I am sure I will enjoy working my way down the list as time progresses.

Just thought you'd like to know, in case you, too, are having trouble locating blogs writen by "us."

Monday, February 23, 2009

Aspie Trance

Came across the concept of an "Aspie Trance" the other day, and I'm wondering if that's the answer to my latest problem. You see, I've been pondering a strange, trance-like aspect of my personality. Kinda difficult to explain, but I shall give it a try:

Often when I'm in class, meetings, church people tell me I'm sleeping. Yet I take pages and pages of notes, learn the material, and if asked to give a review often do such a through replay that it puts others to shame. Folks often comment with amazement, "how did you get all that, sitting there asleep?"

Over the past few weeks, I've been paying better attention to how I appear in meetings, and have discovered I do indeed seem very drowsy. And I actually am drowsy sometimes. Most of the time I'm just bored. But, in my own way, I'm paying attention. Problem is, paying attention doesn't help my professional standing if my colleagues think I'm asleep.

So I've been looking for ways to keep myself more alert- caffeine, getting more sleep, finding other things to do that keep me awake (such as writing or drawing). Unfortunately, while each helps a little bit, each has it's drawbacks: One soda or cup of tea "perks me up" but then I have a headache that night. When I get more sleep, I'm not as trance-ey, but then I have less time for my family (already minimal). And if I draw or write articles (or outlines for the many books I need to stop writing and just publish) I am more alert and interested-looking, but then I'm not paying attention to the speaker(s).

From the discussion on Wrong Planet, I don't think this is the exact thing meant by "Aspie Trance" the way most people use it, but then I read descriptions about "living in a haze" and feeling like one's consciousness "never fully developed," and I wonder if this isn't part of an altered state brought on by some of the below suggestions from Creative Minds:

Besides occurring spontaneously, different types of altered states may be induced by flickering light (e.g. from TV & computer monitors, fluorescent lights), electromagnetic stimulation of the brain, music, repetitive movements (e.g. rocking back-&-forth), drugs, air-born chemicals, pain, shock, fear, sex, stress, sensory overload, allergic reaction, fatigue, precipitation, deep concentration, meditation, prayer, contemplation and hypnosis.

I can definately vouch for the alergic reaction contribution: A couple of years ago, I discovered that after eating certain types of fish I would get exteremely drowsy- as if I was drugged. I've not had it proved medically, but I think that's possibly an allergic reaction to the fish. So I don't eat certain fish when I know I need to be alert later in the day. I shall pay more attention to this (what conditions cause me to appear sleepy or trance-ey) and let you all know what I come up with.

PS: I'm playing around with the date and time options, to see if I can "prepare" some posts ahead of time. I suspect I will have little time for blogging during the week, but (for symmetry's sake- don't ask why that's important to me, I don't know) I would prefer the posts to spread out evenly rather than make 5-6 over the weekend. :-)

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Let Him Be Happy

I saw this post on another Aspie blog, and really liked the response:

Post from

Asperger's Disorder Homepage Blogger

My son is soon to be 25 years old. We are just now realizing that he fits all the criteria for having Asperger's syndrome. He has not been formally diagnosed by a psychologist or doctor, although he did receive speciall educational services as a youngster. No one knew of Asperger's them. Currently his life is going very well. He is graduating from college and has a good job lined up. He is very capable and has developed lots of good coping skills.

However, some "remnants" of Asperger's still remain: disorganization, inappropriate reaction to frustration, extremely sensitive hearing, some other things. He has never had a girlfriend and has never dated.

I have spoken with him about getting a formal diagnosis, but since his life is going well, he doesn't feel the need. Can you tel me what he/we can expect for a high functioning young adult with Asperger's? Is it very important for him to get a diagnosis to be sure? Should we expect relationship problems, problems at work?

Before I post the response, let me jsut say the reason I liked it, is because the responder considered the feelings of the young man in question. Too often I hear parents lament that their child will not have a normal life, never stopping to consider for a second that the child is perfectly happy with his/her life the way it is. Different isn't always bad.

Dr. Laurie Dietzel said...
Hi Nancy -
It is so nice to hear that your son is doing well. Although everyone is different, many folks with Asperger's have some difficulty with relationships, particularly intimate ones. Does he want to have closer friends or a "significant other" or is he satisfied with his life as is? I guess in my experience this is the crucial factor in adjustment and happiness. A diagnosis is only needed if he is requesting workplace or educational accommodations or if he is interested in learning more about himself in order to make desired changes.
Sure, it's considered a "normal" human function to want intimate relationships, to get married, and have a family. And if the young man feels left out, or if he wants such relationships, then by all means I would encourage his mother to help him seek ways to effect that outcome (including therapy, research, etc). But if he's happy, let him be happy.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

I forgot I had a blog!

Wow. I forgot I had a blog. I re-discovered it by accident while learning how to "follow" someone else's blog. And so here it is. With some posts. And one really good post. So I guess I should start using this blog. Well, I'm in a bit of a bad mood right now, so maybe right now is not the time to start.

Then again, maybe someone else would be comforted by knowing they aren't alone in feeling down. If you're feeling down right now, you're not alone. I am too.

I just came from a revival. It was a very good service, but afterward I watched everyone chit-chatting with each other and felt very left out. I know the Lord has brought me a long way in developing socially, but this Aspie just wasn't in the social spirit today. I could tell I was making people uncomfortable, and so removed my presence. I suppose I should celebrate that I could tell people were getting uncomfortable (fidgeting, changing the subject or talking to someone else as soon as I gave them an opening). After all, 2-3 years ago, I wouldn't have noticed.

That's part of the rub, though. I remember a time not caring what others thought and not realizing what they thought. I don't remember how I discovered I was different and that no, everyone else DIDN'T think, feel, and act the way I did. All I know is now I feel bad, and a few years ago I wouldn't have felt bad because I wouldn't have noticed.

But all things work to the good of those who love the Lord. I truly love the Lord, and I'm sure He will reveal to me His purpose in all this. And I'm also sure that tomorrow I'll be in a better mood, and will have something much better to write.