My gorgeous, affectionate little seven year old boy has Aspergers Syndrome.
When I tell someone he has Asperger’s I get asked ‘What is that?’…..
So due to the lack of understanding about Aspergers, I have decided to do a post about Aspergers to gain awareness of the disorder in the community.
Aspergers Syndrome is one of the ‘Autism Spectrum Disorders’. Aspergers syndrome children will have many behaviours that are similar to those with autism, but they have better language and cognitive skills (Cognitive skills is the mental processes of perception, memory, judgment, and reasoning, as contrasted with emotional and volitional processes). While Asperger’s Syndrome is closely related to Autism, it is not as severe as Autism.
Aspies have difficulties forming friendships, an inability to understand that communication involves talking as well as listening, an inability to understand the rules of social behaviour, the feelings of others and aren’t able to ‘read’ body language. Children who suffer from this disorder will typically exhibit distinct awkwardness when in just about any kind of social setting, as well as an all-absorbing interest in specific topics or subjects. His behaviour can vary from mildly unusual to quite aggressive and extremely difficult (those are the really fun times. I think someone once said “Parenting isn’t a challenge, it’s an adventure” So true!).
Aspies have rules and rituals that they insist all family members follow and get upset or aggressive, if they aren’t. Tim (my husband) usually bares the brunt of most of the aggressiveness. They are also sensitive to loud noises and cannot handle noisy/ busy/ heavily populated places like shopping centres etc.
Aspies have higher than usual intelligence, extensive vocabulary but many have difficulty with the practical use of language.
Due to the current funding criteria for funding in government schools, we (and a lot of others with Aspergers) have been denied funding for a teachers aid, even for a few hours a week, as Aspies are deemed ‘not bad enough’ and ‘too intelligent’, yet they require that one on one time to assist them with their learning and understanding. So unfortunately, a lot of kids with Aspergers slip through the schooling cracks without any help. Nearly, all the work with an aspergers child lands solely on the parents shoulders from researching how to help your child, to finding therapists (speech and occupational therapists), motor skills therapy, play therapies, learning how to deal with meltdowns and their behaviours etc.
Some parents even home school their children because their children can’t cope in the school structure and don’t receive any assistance through the school system, so they take on the responsibility of educating their own children as a consequence.
After a child turns 7, you cannot receive any funding assistance for the above therapies or anything the child needs, it is all out of pocket expenses for the parents. Out of $150 for one session of therapy (be it speech or O.T), you only get $70 back through medicare and that is through the special autism spectrum rate. So $50 per session, per week, per therapy very quickly adds up.
There are early integration programs in place for children with an Autism Spectrum Disorder but most children aren’t diagnosed until they are in kinder or even in school.
Thomas might have ‘meltdowns’ in the middle of Coles, have trouble deciphering what is going on outside of ‘Thomas’s world’, he can be quite blunt and we have to be careful when joking or being sarcastic as he takes everything literally, can talk nonstop about Star Wars, Lego etc but he is my little mate. He loves nothing more than having a cuddle (one of the characteristics of Aspergers is they have to be touching you in some way to feel secure, even if it is just by holding your hand or having their foot touching you while they are sitting on the couch, much to his brothers annoyance), cooking with mum, playing the Wii, building things with Lego and watching Richard Hammond’s science lab and Top Gear! Our cat Kitty and Thomas have a very special bond, she just adores him and has a very calming influence on him. She seems to know when he is upset or anxious.
When we are out, some might perceive his behaviour as misbehaviour but you can’t judge a book by its cover and you can’t judge parents of children with Aspergers (or any child with an Autism Spectrum Disorder) until you have walked in their shoes. And no… he does not ‘need a good smack’, contrary to popular belief. The only way he can deal with his anxiety is to have a meltdown or be extremely difficult, unfortunately.
If I had a dollar for every dirty look or “well meaning” comment I would of been a millionaire by now…. Hmm there is a business idea! Do you think I could go up to the person and say ‘You owe me a dollar for your dirty look?” Wouldn’t they look then? Haha!!
I have actually turned around to those who comment and tell them bluntly “He has Aspergers Syndrome actually”… the look on their face and the apology afterwards is priceless. Maybe next time they open their mouth, they will think beforehand.
Why do people feel the need to negatively comment to strangers anyway (in any situation)? I wouldn’t go up to another person and make a negative comment about them or one of their family members. I just don’t comprehend why people do that.
Famous Aspies: Albert Einstein, Mozart, Bill Gates, Henry Ford, Isaac Newton, Al Gore, Woody Allen etc. Looking at this list, I am sure Thomas is heading toward a very bright future in whatever career he chooses.
Hopefully, that has shed some light on Aspergers and what it is like to have a child with it.