Wednesday, October 3, 2007

So what is this Asperger's thing anyway?

This is a "cheat post" cobbled together from a post on my family blog. I'll try not to cheat like this too much, but in this case, the post is quite relevant.

Two years ago, my son, Kaelan was diagnosed with ADD and with Asperger's Syndrome. At that time although I had my head well and truly around the attention deficit disorder I really couldn't work out the Asperger's side of things. For a start, I couldn't see many of the specified behaviors in Kaelan and I couldn't understand why most of these behaviors were considered to be bad anyway. Now, several books and a lot of thinking later, I have come to the realization that not only does Kaelan have Asperger's, but that he inherited it from me.

Reading the articles on Asperger's, I can't help but think that it sounds like a really good syndrome to have. Sure, there are one or two little drawbacks but on the whole, there seems to be much more good than bad traits associated with it.

Of course, this is just my personal opinion and its well and truly skewed by my condition.

One of the better blow-by-blow descriptions of the Asperger's Condition can be found in the following book.

"The Everything parents guide to children with Asperger's Syndrome" by William Stillman.

I'll provide a quick summary below;

Identifying the Asperger's Condition

Asperger's is grouped under the umbrella of autism but differs significantly in the following ways;

  • It is not responsible for language delays

  • It is not responsible for cognitive development delays

  • It is not responsible for adaptive behaviour delays other than social interaction

  • It is not responsible for delays in curiosity about the environment

Great, now we know what it isn't -- but what exactly is it?

Qualifying criteria (you need to have at least two of these)

  • Problems using non-verbal gestures (eye contact, facial expressions, hand gestures) during social interaction

  • Lack of development of relationships with peers

  • Failure to seek to share enjoyment, interests or achievements with other people (e.g. not showing things that interest him to other people.

  • Failure to reciprocate emotions or social gestures

The Repetitiveness
In addition to these, you need to be shown some restrictive repetitive and stereotyped patterns of behaviour's interests and activities in brackets you need to have at least one of the following)

  • Unusually intense preoccupation with one or more interests

  • Obsessively following specific nonfunctional routines or rituals

  • Repeated motions such as handle finger clubbing or twisting

  • Unusual preoccupation with parts of objects

Obviously, pretty much everybody qualifies for Asperger's under these conditions however the book states that problem behaviors need to be fairly problematic in order to be considered.

Your first reaction to this should be something along the lines of "my child doesn't have facial tics" or "my child doesn't go around finger clubbing etc..". Mine was.

The problem with this description (and all other Asperger's symptom descriptions I've seen thus far) is that they aren't specific enough for you to tie them down to your child - especially a younger child. They're way too clinical.

Anyway - I'll let you think on this and be back with another post later.

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