Wednesday, December 10, 2014

OK, so let's get some things straight...........

Today's post is brought to you by my annoyance with ADHD and Aspergers. Also brought to you by my annoyance with people who think my son is just a "bad" or "rude" kid. The information in blue came from this website found here. So let's explore bullet point by bullet point shall we.

Most children with Asperger’s syndrome (AS), an autism spectrum disorder, receive an ADHD diagnosis -- or misdiagnosis -- before a pediatrician concludes that it’s AS. The symptoms of autism spectrum disorders and ADHD overlap. Most children on the autism spectrum have symptoms of ADHD -- difficulty settling down, social awkwardness, the ability to focus only on things that interest them, and impulsivity.

So yeah. He wasn't diagnosed until he was 8 years old. Why? Because ADHD and AS overlap a lot of the time. Also overlapping is OCD which Landon most definitely has. It took us well over a year to get him a diagnosis. See, my son, Landon, was advanced in almost everything. He walked at 9 months, he talked in sentences at 18 months. Heck his teeth even came in early and his soft spot closed early (and yes, I know the last two have nothing to do with the diagnosis, it was listed to show you he was early on just about every milestone).

Although Asperger's syndrome is on the autism spectrum, the symptoms are often milder than those of classic autism. More severe forms of autism are often diagnosed in the first two years of a child’s life, but Asperger's syndrome is usually diagnosed at a later age. A major reason for that is while children with AS may have moderate delays in the speech development, most AS children communicate by age three.

Landon never had any type of speech delay. If anything he was so crazy advanced. The kid would talk like an adult in preschool. The things he would say amazed us almost daily. One thing we did notice while he was in preschool was the fact he always talked so literal. Seriously. You really couldn't even joke with him and make analogies. He just didn't get it. Like, at all. Still doesn't alot of the time. And actually his speech was one of the factors that made it take so long to get him a definite diagnosis. He just has impeccable speech. 

Researchers don’t fully understand what causes Asperger's syndrome, although there seems to be a strong genetic component. 

The above quote is not proven but let me tell you what. I totally believe it. 100%. I am not going to go into all the details for my reasoning. Just know that my husband and I have talked in great detail about it and we are convinced Landon "got it" from family.

Children with Aspeger's syndrome, like all individuals on the spectrum, have difficulties in three areas: communication, social interaction, and restricted interests. A child with AS might have some or all of these symptoms; however, symptoms are often less severe than in a child with autism. The following is a breakdown of each type of impairment.

Please reread the above. "might have some or all of these symptoms" Just because my child does not fit into ALL symptoms does not mean he does not have AS and ADHD. "well he looks fine" "well he seems to have no trouble talking to people" Umm, NO. Wrong. Well, yes, he looks fine. Just like a little kid. Landon definitely has communication, social interaction and restricted interests. His anxiety is so bad. I could write a book on his anxiety and communication. These two go hand in hand. When he is feeling anxious he says and does stupid things, sometimes inappropriate things. Ok, so he does it alot. He talks a mile a minute especially about his "restricted interests". He also speaks his mind. This one is the hardest for me to understand and deal with. He says what I think are flat out mean things. He asked very rude and inappropriate questions. His brain is just literal. He honestly doesn't know any better. He doesn't know how to word things differently. He doesn't know that he is not suppose to talk about or ask certain things. 

Now, here's the thing. We don't just sit back and watch this happen. Landon has been in doctors care once a week for over a year and a half. He has a terrific counselor (I wish I could steal her and make her live with us!). We do talk to him practically every day about the things he says and does. We try to explain very simple and literal why he can't say and do certain things. 

Over the course of our research the only thing that really works is repetitive learning. So yeah, it might take us a few years to instill the simplest thing in him, but we will. 

  Failure to develop age-appropriate peer relationships (inability to understand the social give-and-take of friendships)
Most children with Asperger's syndrome want to make friends, but they don’t know how.
  Failure to seek out others to share enjoyment, interest, and achievements (such as sharing a good grade on a test)
  Lack of social and emotional reciprocity (not enjoying being with others just for the sake of being together)

This really goes along with the above blurb too. Landon seriously is clueless about the give-and-take of friendships. This is another area we work on constantly. Landon has friends but doesn't really see them or hang out with them other then school. This is so heartbreaking for me as a mother. To think that other kids don't want to play with my son. And it's heartbreaking on a whole other level because I understand why they don't. Landon is hard to take. Landon is loud and opinionated. And when he gets upset you better watch out. He doesn't understand the "rules" of friendship. I could write a whole blog post on just this subject. And sometimes it's my fault. I push him to play with kids at events or places. It almost always ends horribly. Even with his own family, cousins and such. He would much rather sit on his bed and play on his Kindle then play with other kids.

  Narrow interests that are abnormal in intensity and focus (a single TV show, the Titanic, or an unusual object such as a vacuum cleaner)
  Rigid adherence to nonfunctional routines and rituals (following a strict protocol when leaving the house to go to school)
  Stereotyped repetitive motor mannerisms (pacing)

The Kindle. His stuffed cat, Tron. His love of mustard. I have never witnessed someone love inanimate objects more than him. He has stayed up until the wee hours of the morning playing on his Kindle. It's very much an obsession. 

His cat, Tron. He has had this stinky, smelly, dirty stuffed animal for years. And he lost it once. You would of thought it was the end of the world. But here's the thing, to him, it most definitely is. it throws so many different aspects of his life off. His security, his sleep, his playtime...etc.. I went to the hell and back (a company's trash) to get his stupid little cat back. I don't have to agree with the cat. I don't have to like it. But if it makes him feel better then I will dig in some company trash for him. 

Routines and rituals. Oh em gee. That kid is worse then me. And I am so OCD. We literally have to explain our day in great detail to him. We explain where we are going, what time and why. And we usually have to start telling him hours before we leave and many times just so he doesn't forget. I even have to go as far as tell him how many items we are buying at the store. 

**side bar** Funny story. We went to a store that had one hour parking. When we got out of the car he asked what time it was. I told him and thought nothing of it. When we left the store and got by the car he asked what time it was again, I told him. It was just over an hour. That kid freaked out. He just kept repeating "but the sign said, the sign said only an hour!!!!" I laughed about it for awhile. Then I got to thinking that this really upset him. We did not follow the rules that were in place. It totally threw him off. **

Motor mannerims - yep he got them. One of the biggest things he does is put stuff in his mouth. Mostly clothes, Tron, blankets. Totally annoying. So many shirts with holes. So many stinky items because of spit on them. Right now this is our big thing we are working on.

Parents may be slow to pick up on Asperger's syndrome in their child. Its subtle combination of symptoms leaves parents wondering if anything is wrong or if the symptoms are part of their child’s personality. When a child goes to preschool, social difficulties become more evident. Typically, AS kids are unable to make friends, have a hard time reading other people or understanding humor.

We did notice Landon's symptoms in preschool. However, in 1st grade is when things got back. Like really bad. It took a phone call to the doctor bawling my eyes out (over an incident at school) to convince me to take him to the doctor. I don't remember much from that doctor visit exept his doctor told us that "if his behavior effects the family dynamics on a regular basis then there is a problem.  We will find the problem. It might not be today but we will find the problem and work towards getting him better". He also said that we are parents. We know our son. If we feel that something is not right then most likely we are right. 

If you suspect your child has Asperger's syndrome, consult with a developmental and behavioral pediatrician, a child psychiatrist, or a psychologist with expertise in the autism spectrum. The evaluation will likely involve observing your child and talking to you about his development, social interaction, and communication skills. Your child may undergo several tests to determine her level of intellect and academic abilities

Consult with numerous people if needed. If you think there is an issue, don't back down. There are great doctors and therapists out there that will believe you (even if your so called supportive family and friends don't). And this goes for ANY mental OR physical thing going on with your child. Don't give up. Don't let the medical community look down on you. Don't let family or friends discourage you. Don't. You need to advocate for your child. Be their voice. 

Most children benefit from early, specialized interventions that focus on behavior management and social-skills training: learning how to interpret gestures, eye contact, tone of voice, humor, and sarcasm, for example. Cognitive behavior therapy may help them manage obsessive behavior and anxiety. About half of children with Asperger's syndrome will be treated with medication.

I don't know what we would do without Landon's care team at Child Guidance. We have a great counselor and a terrific "medicine doctor" as Landon calls her. So yeah, he takes medicine daily. Oh well, our choice. Not yours. But if you would like I can take him off the medication and have him spend about 2 weeks with you. 

SO that's it. I think I explained a lot. I went over a lot. 

Last piece of advice...ok...so it's numerous pieces of advice. 
  • is he is misbehaving more than likely he is having a meltdown. Completely different from being "bad". Something probably happened that his brain could not process. If you tell me " to beat his ass", I might just have to beat yours. And yes, I am serious. Spanking my kid because he is having a meltdown because he didn't understand something is stupid. Just plain stupid. So you have been warned. You tell me to "beat his ass" and I will beat yours.
  • yes, he most definitely says and does stupid things. Please don't be nasty to him ( and you know who you are, yep, I'm talking to you). Even though he is 9 and he is old enough to understand, chances are, he doesn't. So back off. If he upset you, please come talk to his parents. We will handle it. I would prefer you don't attack him. Chances are he won't understand and he will just get angry. And angry Landon is not really fun.
  • My kid is a talker. If you can not handle the talking all you have to do is politely ask him to take a break from talking. Easy peasy. And no, it does not offend him
  • Last bullet point, promise. And this is a thank you. A HUGE thank you so the friends and family that have been there and encouraged us. The ones I poured my heart out to. The ones who stepped up even is they don't necessarily agree with everything.  Much love to you guys!
Thanks for sticking with the super long post. I hoped I have answered some questions. 




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