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Should I tell my friend I suspect her son may have aspergers?

(27 Posts)
noonki Mon 05-Jan-09 20:24:43


I am really unsure about what to do. During a work training day we covered some information about aspergers syndrome.

The characteristics given of someone with the syndrome are very similar to those displayed by my bf's little boy.

Her son is four. My friend has had concerns about his behaviour in social situations. He has never been very interested in forming friendships, his pretend play is always about machines, never people. His language though quite developed is somewhat over formal and he gets puzzled by similies and they seem to worry him. He has a number of obsessive behaviours well over and above the other children we know of a similar age. Also He sleeps poorly.

Of course he may not have aspergers as I don't know all that much about the subject. But my question really is should I approach her with this information or not? ANd if I do, do you know or a good starting point for assistance for them?

My friend is quite defensive about his behaviour, hence some of my retience at approaching her. Though she has a few times acknowledged that he has some unusual behaviours. He is at nursery and is enjoying it. But at times she struggles with his behaviour as he can be very naughty and challenging.

Would it matter if he did have apergers and it went undiagnosed, or if he was diagnosed what would the benefits be for him, if any?

any advice as to what I should do would be gratefully received.

NAB3lovelychildren Mon 05-Jan-09 20:25:58

My instinct is to say nothing but if she asks about your course tell her and she might work out for herself if her son needs checking.

troutpout Mon 05-Jan-09 20:48:52


noonki Mon 05-Jan-09 20:49:14

Thanks Nab, that might be a good way to bring up the subject.

sarah573 Mon 05-Jan-09 22:08:42

Diffcult. J has aspergers, but I hadn't even heard the word until he was 8. Looking back with the knowledge I now have it was obvious from when he was 2 that there was a problem, and anyone with an inkling of knowledge on the subject should have picked it up by 4 or 5. Unfortunately I had never heard of it and J was my first child so I didn't have a comparison to realise something was wrong. Things didn't reach crisis until he was 8 when he saw the relevant people and eventually was dx'd. Looking back now if you were my friend talking about my son I would want you to have said something.

ClarissimoUsedToBePeachy Mon 05-Jan-09 22:14:16

do what nab said
but if she needs to, she will come to it in her own time.

'Would it matter if he did have apergers and it went undiagnosed, or if he was diagnosed what would the benefits be for him, if any?'

ah now there's a debate LOL!

a dx can answer a lot of questions for a young child about who they ar and why they fee different- but that can work in reverse also

if it is AS chances are school will spot it or at least that there are unusual developmental signs- at which point she may well need ypur knowledge

btw if yo want to larn mor look at the national autistic society website; in particular (for signs etc) the triad of impairments

ClarissimoUsedToBePeachy Mon 05-Jan-09 22:15:05

(Have 2 asd by the way, one aspergers / HFA, one autism. Work sent me on a course where it ws mentioned)

SixSpot Mon 05-Jan-09 22:18:56

Agree with Clarissimo (and I also have one with a DX of HFA/AS and one with a DX of autism).

misscutandstick Mon 05-Jan-09 22:34:53

I have been battling with the very same thought for some months now. DS2's best buddy is somewhat 'aspergers-ish' and his mother will give a million reasons/excuses for why her eldest son aged 12y (she has a 2yr DD too) is a little different and soooooo incredibly sensitive, needs ritualistic sameness and speaks totally unlike his peers...

I have on the very odd occasion brought up minor incidents that have distressed him IE he couldnt remember what it was he normally drank in Mcdonalds and it deeply distressed him, to the brink of meltdown. Her answer was that 'well he gets a bit like that, im sure he'll grow out of it'.

He is fortunately in a very small circle of friends that all have some difficulty with typical teendom (2 are autistic, hes AS and DS2 has many ASD traits) and they get on well together, giving each other support.

I have decided against bringing up the subject again with his mum, but instead offer to take him places with DS2 that i know he will manage, and have a good time. But i do sympathise with the decision you have yet to make. Good luck XXX

macwoozy Mon 05-Jan-09 22:50:32

That's a difficult one, but I don't think I would say anything, at least for the time being anyway. Hopefully school will pick up on it which happened in my ds's case, (although I'm aware that doesn't happen in all cases so like I say it's a difficult one).

My concern would be that your hunch (but an understandable one!)is wrong and she has months of needless worry if she reads about Aspergers. I would give it a little more time.

Flamespar Mon 05-Jan-09 23:17:57

Gut reaction would be no.

If there was some way of her finding out about AS and drawing her own conclusions it would be different, but you saying something would put her on the defensive.

Tis a bit like my sister - we grew up with her being arsey and a pita (we now think tis mild AS), we knew she was arsey and a pita, but woe betide anyone else suggesting such a thing.

lingle Tue 06-Jan-09 09:11:24

She's your best friend. However tactful you try to be, there's a really high risk that it would destroy the friendship. It will be better if she raises it with you rather than vice versa.

Perhaps focus on listening to her concerns even more than you do already. It's clear from mumsnet that there is a huge benefit to diagnosis if the mother had previously been thinking that she was somehow to blame for naughtiness - you'll find countless posts expressing relief on this score. But if she enjoys him just as he is and if he is happy then may be better not to raise it.

Tclanger Tue 06-Jan-09 10:00:02

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

ClarissimoUsedToBePeachy Tue 06-Jan-09 10:18:44

Agree tc, ds1 didn't 'fit' the lists unless you had quite in depth understanding of asd and him.

amber32002 Tue 06-Jan-09 11:37:46

Would it matter if it was an ASD and went undiagnosed? Impossible to say. All depends how good the services are locally. A piece of paper with 'Asperger syndrome' is less use than an ASDA till receipt unless someone's going to take it seriously. But the benefits should (in theory) be better understanding and acceptance from people (hmm), better school support (hmm) and better access to funding and help for training and support (again, hmm). Some are lucky. Many find it's a mixed blessing.

GooseyLoosey Tue 06-Jan-09 11:45:58

I have wondered about my 5 year old ds from time to time as he has some "social peculiarities". However, I have to say if a friend had said something to me, although I may have known in my heart that there was something in it, I would have been instantly defensive of my son and it would have marked the end of an in depth friendship for me.

I would let her come to it on her own as others have said.

ClarissimoUsedToBePeachy Tue 06-Jan-09 11:58:05

'A piece of paper with 'Asperger syndrome' is less use than an ASDA till receipt unless someone's going to take it seriously' I thik thats true vfor the child / adult though from my perspective when s1 got his dx I stopped assuming I was crap and became able to look at things differently without self blame iyswim.

Dh is only coming to that now after 2.5 years (I thik was s3's dx in december) starting gently with the curious incident but heck, it's a start!

GreenEggsAndSpam Tue 06-Jan-09 12:25:42

I also don't think I would say anything directly. I would however, give your friend every opportunity to talk about her DS. Sometimes voicing things to other people can bring a bit of clarity. It also might give you the opportunity to say something along the lines of 'yes, that does sound a little unusual - does it worry you? Do you think it might help to talk to someone about it?' kind of thing...
Best of luck. It is clear you have their best interests at heart smile

kittybrown Tue 06-Jan-09 17:08:10

I agree with GreenEggs. That is the best approach.

I've been told that my son is/has a varity of things from friends, relations and school. TBH it really peed me off to the point that we finally agreed after 1000's of arguements with the school to get him assessed. Turned out he was normal. Bright, mature, funny, thoughtful and slightly out of step with his peers . All in all just a different shade of normal.

I would happily talk about my son but as soon as anybody told me he was AS/ASD and start diognosing him with something a brick wall would go up.

Marne Tue 06-Jan-09 17:11:07

I would say nothing, i think my cousins ds may have AS, i think she may be aware of this as she knows my dd (as) very well and all the traits, i would'nt say anything to her.

Since dd was dx with AS i seem to see alot of children with AS traits as well as alot of adults but its not my place to say.

noonki Tue 06-Jan-09 19:01:46

Thank you all for your advice, It has been very useful and made me feel better about knowing what to do (or not really!)

I will just keep talking with her and unless she directly asks an opinion I won't offer one.

It has made it much easier for me to think clearly and appreciate your thoughts smile

lingle Tue 06-Jan-09 19:56:53

Great! hopefully the little one will outgrow his issues but if he turns out to need extra help then she's still have her best mate to listen smile.

nikos Tue 06-Jan-09 22:44:52

I would say though that there are things that can be done at this age to help your friends' ds with social skills etc and I'm never of the wait and see approach as there is so much that can be done with early intervention. Is it possible you could get your friend interested in a few of these without mentioning a label.
For example, for children on the spectrum creative play often doesn;t come naturally but it can be developed through direct teaching and the same with friendships. One of the greatest strides my ds made was when I got down on the floor with him when he was playing with 'machines' and interuppted him and made a game of it. Think of children like this needing to discover that people are fun to be with as things are just much more interesting for them.
If you leave it, this way of thinking becomes entrenched IMO.

GreenEggsAndSpam Wed 07-Jan-09 08:42:05

My other thought on this is that if these traits that your friend's ds has are obvious to you, then I expect they will be obvious to the nursery staff. They will see a huge range of children and so do get an ikling for when things aren't 'right'. Not to say that can do any sort of diagnosing, but they are well placed to say whether his behaviour is odd. Also, he sounds like he will start school in Sept. If this is the case, then there will be documents that will go from nursery to school that your friend will see, which should give her an idea of where he is.

Having said that, there have been three children I have known who before the age of 5/6 I have looked at and wondered about aspergers. Now a couple of years down the line, it is hard to see why I might have thought that. They were just slow to develop certain skills compared to their peers. This is why diagnosis must be done by a professional lol!

noonki Wed 07-Jan-09 09:47:39

thank you both

Niko, I think I could easily suggest that to her as I think it does worry her, without directly bringing up aspergers.

greeneggs - I agree some staff would be able to bring these up, but from expereince of undiagnosed dyslexia with DSS (til last year and he is 12) I guess it depends on the staff.

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