Sunday, December 16, 2007

How the whole Asperger's thing can be Detrimental to your Health

There are a few things about the Asperger's condition which can seriously affect the health of the individuals concerned.

This obviously won't be an exhaustive list, but it's a few things to consider.

Undereating in Children
While it is true to say that no child has ever starved itself willingly with food in easy reach, it is probably also true to say that no Aspie child has eaten healthy food when there are unhealthy alternatives available.

Aspies have a lot of problems with the texture of food as well as the taste. For some reason, the junk food manufacturers seem to have figured out a way of giving their foods fairly good textures since junk foods, such as lollies and ice cream rarely pose a problem to the aspie.

Aspie adults can take responsibility for their own healthy eating habits however aspie children need to be carefully monitored.

The other eating problem that aspie children have is that they seem to be much slower at eating than other children. This is probably a result of their susceptibility to distraction. As a result, aspie children often do not manage to eat their school lunches in time. I am not really sure what you can do to overcome this problem however I remember from my school days that I didn't eat lunch but often had six slices of bread immediately on walking in the door at home. It never seemed to prevent me from eating my dinner.

One last point about eating... Remember that the side-effects of medications such as Ritalin can sometimes worsen the eating problems by suppressing appetite.

Problems of Perfection
While perfection-related problems do affect aspie children (particularly in the later school years), they are far worse in aspie adults.

The problem is that Aspies tend to work on things until they reach a level of perfection that they are comfortable with. This means that they are often working harder and longer hours than their colleagues.

Obviously this can lead to workplace injuries and in particular overuse injury. I have first-hand experience of this because I work in the computing field and do so much keyboarding and mousing that sometimes my arms ache for weeks. Since so many aspies work with computers, it's a common problem.

Ignoring Pain
I plan to do a full post on how aspies can ignore pain so I wont go into a great deal of detail here. What I will say is that ignoring (or being able to ignore) the human body's signals of pain can result in longer term injuries. Sometimes, we aren't even aware that we are blocking pain out. This can be quite dangerous.


Anonymous said...

I am completely interested in reading your post regarding aspies who ignore pain. I thought it was rather a high tolerance to pain rather than ignoring it. My son who frequently recieves injuries as most young boys do, doesn't seem to be bothered by them when I think the injuries need attention. Being what passes as NT, I am so enlightened by your observations and insights. Thank you.

PLANET3RRY said...

On Pain:
I would have to say that most times I am oblivious to the fact that I have injured myself more than ignoring it (or tolerating it). I might remember that I bumped my hand on something, but unless I look at my hand or have some tell me "your hand is bleeding", I might not be aware that I am actually injured.

It is pretty dangerous not treat an injury when you know about it. You run the risk of reinjuring yourself or making the problem worse because it's not fully healed. Also, being able to tolerate pain can mask some illnesses as well. When our son was 1yo, he was a little "extra" fussy, but not within normal cranky limits. Turns out he had 2 ear infections!

Anonymous said...

Saffy from WP here :)

I was interested to see you posting something about AS and food. Food and resistant eaters is a particular interest of mine. Kids on the spectrum are often resistant to the point of only eating 1-2 foods.
As you can imagine this can cause massive problems for the children health wise, but also huge amounts of stress in the family, since meal times and food are a social setting in almost every culture.
There are a number of elements which can effect food choice, some sensory, some related to perfectionism, and some related to difficulty making choices, aversions( from trauma ) or strong routines around food that kids get stuck on ( food jags )
A really interesting topic. Your blog looks great and well organised
I'm going to enjoy exploring it

Julie said...

Have to comment on your comments on children undereating. Whilst it is true that my son does not eat enough, which worries me when I'm seeing ribs through skin, he also eats healthy. He prefers fruit over most junk, so I'm happy to feed him as much fruit as possible. Yes, he likes his lollies & ice cream, but what kid doesn't? As for lunches, he has a sandwich, but does eat slower than the other kids. He can eat what he wants when he gets home, but in moderation, as yes, it does affect him eating his evening meal. I tend to push the evening meal back so he has time between afternoon tea and tea time.
I have to agree with the pain tolerance thing too. My son has had numerous ear infections, and one time I only knew he had an ear infection when the actual ear drum burst! Never complained of pain with any ear infections. He also teethed without any noticeable pain.