Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Asperger's

Well I guess I should explain the title, it occurs to me after nearly 44 years that I have an undiagnosed case of Asperger's, a form of Autism.  My son Andrew has a form of Autism, he is very high functioning, similar to Asperger's, but not quite fitting the DSM-IV definition.  I on the other hand fit the definition pretty well and I have also taken quite a few psychological tests in my life and they have always pointed to Asperger's.  I can manage to talk to people, but I have a very hard time looking at people in the eyes.  Crowds drive me crazy, I really don't like being in large groups.  I have been able to give talks in front of large groups, but I do get very nervous, although I have been able to overcome my fears for the most part.

I think it has really affected me more now seeing how Andrew struggles to make friends and has such a hard time at school.  It doesn't help that he has tourette's syndrome as well.  Even the teachers at his school don't seem to understand about either one.  Andrew kept getting in trouble with the teachers for making "noise", I guess they don't understand that tourette's isn't just people cussing uncontrollably, in fact it consists if both verbal and physical ticks that don't usually include any cussing, in fact Andrew's particular ticks don't involve cussing at all.  When Andrew gets anxious or tired they occur more often, and now the kids in his class, also uneducated in Andrew's issues are making fun of him, which makes Andrew all the more anxious and not wanting to go to school.  Andrew had another issue last week, he thought one of his classmates was being treated unfairly and told his main teacher that he was not a good teacher, and said that "he (Andrew) was strong and could hurt him (the teacher)", well the teacher told Andrew to give him his best shot.  Well most people with Asperger's tend to take things literally, and Andrew hit him and was promptly suspended.  Cathy had to pick him up from school and on they way home Andrew was so upset with things he tried to hurt himself by hitting his head and repeated saying he wanted to die.  I can't explain how hard it is to hear an 8 year old say he wants to die, it makes my heart ache just thinking about it.  Cathy managed to get him home where I was waiting with some of his medication that we have for dealing with these types of events. Luckily I was able to get him calmed down, but I know that there will be another time where we have to go through this again and it just breaks my heart to think about it.

Cathy went to the school the next day, once we deciphered what had actually occurred and explained that Drew is very literal and he was only doing what he thought the teacher had said he could do.  I understand what Andrew is going through, I struggled with understanding peoples intentions most of my life, and still have a hard time sometimes when people aren't exactly straightforward.  I feel so stupid afterwards when I miss the joke or real meaning.

When I was growing up I really preferred playing by myself and was usually content to do so for hours.  Andrew likes doing the same thing for the most part, but also craves the interaction of a friend, but he can't quite relate, and gets frustrated when a friend doesn't want to do the exact same things as he does.  I tended to read a lot and could talk for hours about things, as long as they were my interests.  Andrew struggles with reading and learning in general, but is also willing to talk about his interests for hours, mainly Lego Batman.  He is such a loving and caring kid and Cathy and I love him dearly.  We just hope we can figure out how to get Andrew all the help he needs, so that he can have a full and fun life.

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