Thursday, 18 November 2010

Is it or ain't it? A look at Asperger Syndrome...

I don’t know who is aware that I have a special needs child. Just exactly what all the special needs are may be undetermined as of yet.
“J” is my angel child. Having him is like having a bright little light always shining in my world. He is my constant. He is my will and determination. He is my moment of peace at the end of the day. He is my encouragement when I don’t feel like I can do another thing. He is clueless that he is any of these things. If you ask him, he’ll tell you, “I’m just J”.
Several times I have had someone responsible for some aspect of J’s care come to me and ask, “Has he ever been tested for Asperger’s?” J is quirky. That’s what I’ve always called it. He doesn’t care if his underwear is on backwards, sandwiches must be cut in triangles (never squares) and he is VERY literal.
How literal? Here’s an example…
J is playing barefoot in mom’s yard in the summertime.  Somewhere in the process he steps on some manner of flying insect with a stinger. He immediately begins to wail and scream. While nursing the injury mom and I are having a discussion about what it was that stung him.
“I think it was a bee,” I say.
“I don’t know. I’ve seen yellow jackets,” says mom. “Maybe it was a yellow jacket.”
Says J between whimpers, “Yeah, a yellow jacket and don’t forget the yellow pants”.
At two years of age we started with Developmental Delay, Oral/Verbal Apraxia (this is a speech problem), Sensory Dysfunction and low muscle tone.
Officially, at the moment, the diagnoses are ADHD, Developmental Coordination Disorder and Sensory Integration Disorder. In Europe and Australia these disorders, when co-morbid (existing together), are known as Deficits in Attention Motor control and Perception (DAMP).
Upon further research, I’ve learned that DAMP and Autism have many overlapping symptoms. This leads me to believe that perhaps J doesn’t actually fall anywhere on the Autism Spectrum but, more accurately, just has other disorders that mimic the appearance of Aspergers or Pervasive Developmental Delay.
J is currently being screened to find out if he falls on the spectrum. It’s a process that takes some time. I’ve been told months.
Does it change anything for me if he is diagnosed with a spectrum disorder? Not really.  If he does fall somewhere on the spectrum he is VERY high functioning. There are a lot of people in the world who have gone on to do great things while falling on the spectrum.
Vernon Smith –Economist who won the Nobel Prize
Gary Numan – an electro pop rocker
Craig Nicholls – Frontman for The Vines
Satoshi Tajiri – creator of Pokemon
Temple Grandin – Colorado State Univ Professor and author
Bram Cohen – inventor of BitTorrent (although it said he may have self diagnosed)
It is also speculated that people like Benjamin Franklin, Albert Einstien, Abraham Lincoln and Napoleon Bonaparte also may have had Aspergers.
I don’t believe J will ever be any other way than the way he is now.  He’s been very fortunate. It was realized early on that there was something different about him. As a result, he’s had early intervention.  From the ages of 2-8 he received Speech, Occupational, and Physical therapies. He tested out of PT at age 4, Speech at age 5 and Occupational at age 8.
It occurs to me that you might be wondering what I mean when I say, “Autism Spectrum”. Well, there are three “types” of Autism.
They are:
*       Autistic disorder (also called “classic” autism)
*       Asperger Syndrome
*       Pervasive Developmental Disorder Not Otherwise Specified (or atypical autism)
Overall, I guess all of this just to say that it really doesn’t make a difference if the label is attached or not. J is a cool kid. I like him. I’m proud of him. I wouldn’t change a thing about him.
So, lick the back of that label and stick it on if you think it applies. We’re ready. We’ll just keep on keepin’ on the way we have been and we’ll be fine. J

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