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can someone educate me about ASD?

(13 Posts)
lost4words Tue 08-Sep-09 15:11:25

a very good friend's child has it and I'm struggling to find ways of handling it. Can anyone help me? If your child has ASD, what do you wish your friends had done?

I have tried asking her about what it all means, but I feel she is holding quite a lot back.

As he gets older I'm finding it more and more difficult to understand. I don't know all the ins and outs of what they are dealing with. I do know that he has been permanently excluded from school (he is 11) and they are trying to get him some appropriate education. To me - an untrained, un-knowing layperson - , he has behavioural problems. Ie he gets violent if he doesn't get his own way. My friend says that his is a cognative issue, not behavioural. My friend also says that if you treat him like he has ASD, then he doesn't get violent. How do you treat someone like they have ASD?

a slight complication is that she is a very competitive person and I find that I have to admire how great her child's intellect is, while at the same time making sure that my own child doesn't accidentally do something that provokes an attack!

any comments/advice gratefully received.

NorthernSky Tue 08-Sep-09 15:39:03

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NorthernSky Tue 08-Sep-09 15:45:18

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BethNoire Tue 08-Sep-09 16:10:14

Your friend's son sounds like mine, and my response is similar- but of course not everyone knows much about ASD, why would they? Even with a duo ion diagnosed children I am still learning daily, and I have to admit the differences between the two are as marked as the similarities.

ASD is a social communication disorder that presents as a spectrum of unknown aetiology and is often co-morbid with other syndromes. That is, you can get a wide variance of severity and affectedness, and it is often complicated by extra disorders such as dyspraxia, ADHD, dyslexia, GDD etc. Exact titling seems to be specialist dependant- typically Asperger's is taken tomean mild, but in reality it can refer to the age of development of communication and yet have immense associated needs; HFA (high Functioning) can masquerade as LFA if the child cannot use hisn intelligence efficiently, and the spectrum itself is immense. Some people with ASD have great coping skills and lead fulfilling lives (although undiagnosed I would place myself in that category), others need 1-1 support every minute of the day for the entirety of their life.

People with ASD process information differently and are often much more susceptible to sensory stimuli- so a noise that irritates you may be physically painful. In some children this can lead to overloads and meltdowns, possibly the incidents you descrbe? This can also be causeed by frsutration, fear, or anything that prevents the person from functioning. Sometimes these are aggression related, or noisy almost tantrummy episodes: at others they can be brief episodes of reprtitive flapping or other behaviours.

For my own son (the aggressive one) his brain seems to shut down visibly after a certain level of input- sensory stimuli (especially smell) or stressor. This can also be a delayed reaction- for example if he holds it together at school we may still experience it at home. This is NOT behavioural in the sense of naughty boy, just a sad effect of the ASD. He also displays animalistic behaviour at that time, which leads me to believe he slips into a more defensive mode similar to fight or flight responses.

How do you approach a child as if he is ASD? Well that would vary immensely but there are certain things you can do: accept that changes to routine, things such as strong perfume or noisy environments can affect negatively. Be aware of things such as how the child responds to touch or eye contact, if he communicates literally and cannot understand your tone of voice or facial expressions. Most of all, ask. It may not be that she is competitive btw, I often find myself displaying similar traits but in fact I am defensive.

A useful starting point in understanding ASD can be the triad of impairments on the NAS webste (search Triad NAS).


MoonlightMcKenzie Tue 08-Sep-09 17:00:59

Trust parents with children of asd to be likely to know their children better than 'normal' parents know their own children. This is because the behaviour is so odd and out of sinc with expectations the parents are confuddled by everything and spend their lifetime figuring out triggers and solutions, wheras with normal children you don't often have to ask 'why?', you just tell them a behaviour is unnacceptable and move on iyswim.

They also spend far more time than the average parent, planning. This is because the world if full of positive and negative 'triggers' and so things can only be achieved with a good outcome with stategic planning.

The hardest thing for parents of children with asd is having to explain to other adults that it is fact better for everybody if the person that wants to come through the door just waits for the small child shuts it and then opens it first. It might appear to be pandering, and it is to some extent, but it is impossible to tackle all social unacceptable behaviour at the same time, so parents will usually focus on that which has most impact or that is a safety issue.

Insisting that the small child does not get their own way with the door, could result in the rest of the day being completely written off iyswim.

The best thing you can do really, is take the lead from the parent and copy their actions. Once they see you are on their side, you'll be given license to make suggestions if you think you can help.


lost4words Tue 08-Sep-09 17:27:44

thanks for the comments

this child has Asperger's and (I think) has been told he's high functioning, but it is too early to say whether he will be able to live an independent life. He is very odd in his speech (very fast and staccato) and very eccentric in his dress & mannerisms.

The comment about defensiveness is interesting - my friend and her DP were in denial about his issues for some time and in fact have only sought a diagnosis in the last year, when the issues at school came to a head.

I'll have a look on the NAS website - thanks for the tip.

debs40 Tue 08-Sep-09 18:09:18

BethNoire - what a great post! You have summarised the ASD issue so neatly.

Goblinchild Tue 08-Sep-09 18:22:30

I posted this a while ago, but it might add a little to BethNoire's excellent information.

lost4words Tue 08-Sep-09 19:01:41

Thank you all

Goblinchild Tue 08-Sep-09 19:13:16

lost4words, so much more helpful and intelligent of you to look for information and answers than just judge and run.
Thank you from the parent of an Aspie who used to be violent, but thanks to everyone learning more about it, him included, things have become a lot better and easier all round. He tends to walk away from his triggers now, or withdraw into a book.

Wellywearer Wed 09-Sep-09 09:37:10

Goblinchild - can I ask what age did your Ds learn to walk away/withdraw - what strategies did you use ? I take it he was more a reactor than an initiator?

Goblinchild Thu 10-Sep-09 18:38:34

A long, slow process, but he went from several violent incidents a week at primary to two or three a term in Y7, one in Y8 and two for the whole of Y9.
And yes, I could always identify the trigger.
That's why I kept a detailed log of small incidents (he'd come home and monologue the day) so when he exploded, I could trace the fuse to those adults involved with him at school. They came to see that I wasn't fantasising, or talking out of my arse, and that when I advised them to deal with xyz before it became A Problem,I was being helpful.
Must admit, his secondary school has been fantastically good at listening and making reasonable adjustments for him.
One of the reasons things have improved is that now he is huge, the prats who like to live dangerously are less willing to goad and bearbait him than they were. And if he's left alone and not taunted, shoved or mucked about then he's calm.

Wellywearer Thu 10-Sep-09 19:36:04

Many thanks

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