Archive for the ‘Asperger's Syndrome’ Category

I’m a Mum.  I “own” an almost 16 year old man-child.  He has ASD – (Autistic Spectrum Disorder) Asperger’s Syndrome – and Tourettes Syndrome.  Life has certainly provided us with its fair share of challenges.   We’ve cried,  screamed and pulled our hair out.  We’ve laughed like maniacs whilst running around crowded shopping centres, blundered blindly into roaring traffic and banged our head in frustration on walls, floors and furniture.  And that’s just the kid!!  lol.

Some days were really bad and we wondered what on earth we had done “wrong” as parents, how did we create this volatile little monster and how did we “fix” him.  Anxiety, frustration and anger was ruler in our house, it seemed.  Such turbulent times, those early years.

That was then.  One day, I will fill you in on the details between then and now……but today I wanted to share with you what happened this morning to bring a tear to my eye and make me wander (briefly) along the path of years gone by.

Every school morning is pretty much the same:  Alarm goes off, Mum gets out of bed, wakes Man-Child for the first time, Mum gets dressed, wakes Man-Child for the second time, Mum says good morning to doggy children, wakes Man-Child for the third time, Mum starts making Man-Child’s lunch, Man-Child staggers out from bedroom and lurches toward the breakfast cereal, big hug time, Man-Child eats breakfast and reads book at table – finishes, has shower, gets dressed, cleans teeth – blah, blah, blah,  Mum finishes packing Man-Child’s cordon-bleu lunch into little containers (‘cos that’s how he like it)……etc etc.  We have this routine down pat – to the last second, just about.  Lol.

Anyway…………….this is the conversation that brought a little tear to my eye…..and keeping in mind that my son has NEVER had tuckshop even once in his almost eleven years at school…..

Mum – “Someone must think you’re really special to go to this much trouble with your lunch every day”  (said with tongue in cheek and fishing for compliments….lol)

Man-Child – “I know that I’m really special” (giving me big hug)

Mum – “Yeah, but do you really know how loved you are?”

Man-Child – “Yes I do!  And you know, I wish every child was as loved as me.”  (more big hugs….*sigh*)

Such a simple conversation but what a great start to the day!   It’s wonderful to have confirmation that your kids know they are loved and are secure in that knowledge.  Makes you feel that you’ve actually done something right……

Hope your day is great too.

Cheers – Sandy 🙂

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World Autism Day – that’s tomorrow, 2nd April.  All over the world, people and organizations will be turning “Blue” to show their support for those with Autistic Spectrum Disorder or ASD.  The Sydney Opera House in Australia is getting into the swing of things by turning on blue lights tonight so that should be pretty awesome to see!

This subject is close to my heart.

My son has ASD. Asperger’s Syndrome actually.  It’s commonly referred to as a “Social” disorder (or anti-social, really) because sufferer’s have loads of trouble communicating effectively with others, looking at the world from other’s points of view and their reactions to situations are often considered abnormal or extreme.  They thrive on routine – they need to do the same things in the same way at the same time, every day!  They intensely dislike change of any sort (to just about anything, really) and don’t cope very well when you DO change something, most likely won’t look you in the eye when talking to you, are very uncomfortable in social settings and are so very often the subjects of constant bullying and harassment by their peers – particularly at school. Many a time I have wanted to break the kneecaps of an unrelenting bully when he has been upsetting my son to the point of him refusing to go to school or walk outside our house.  (Note to bullies:- always remember that there’s a Mumma bear behind every cub you harass…..ok? And one day you might cut across her path…… lol)

In Australia, the government has really put some weight (and money) behind Early Intervention programs – aimed at the littlies – toddlers to primary school kids.  This is really wonderful and I applaud all these efforts  to help these kids and their parents from such a young age.  I wish I had these programs when my son was that age.  However, we did have the most wonderful Occupational Therapist in the whole world!  She was our life-saving angel and through her strategies we taught our son to clean his teeth (I know – it sounds SO simple…..), to dress, to get to school on time (mostly…), to be a good shopping buddy, let others take turns etc etc, to be less obsessive over his “pet” loves, to be less aggressive when he didn’t get his own way.  But maybe most importantly (aside from helping us cope with 20 tantrums every day!) was that she helped us realise that it wasn’t our “fault” Jake has autism and that we were actually wonderful parents!!  She helped us put down the foundations for helping our son put the building blocks of his life in the right places.

My wish now is that the government would offer support to the older ASD people.  Like the kids who fell through the cracks and weren’t diagnosed until high school.  Like the adults who have only recently been diagnosed because nobody really understood why they were so “different”.  They were “odd” and things had to be done a certain way – no room for compromise.  Maybe they could never really hold down a steady job for too long – even though they tried really hard.  Maybe they found it hard to make friends, or were just “weird” in the eyes of their bosses and colleagues.  There’s so much for them to learn about how this world and the people in it “work”.  It can be very isolating and lonely because many, many  people just do not understand this disorder.  Education is the key.  Not only to educate the  “Aspie” to help connect those “wires”,  but also to educate the “non-Aspie” on how best to help.   The ASD sufferer’s world is Static – they don’t want it to change.  They like everything to stay the same. Forever. No changes.  But it doesn’t work that way.  The world is Dynamic, ever changing – it won’t wait for people to catch up.  Educating our “Aspie” in the “ways of the world” has taken years, so far – still a very long way to go – and he will never stop learning and growing.  But it can be done.  And it benefits everyone – the sufferer, parents, siblings, husbands & wives, friends, school teachers, employers, law enforcement agencies, …..everyone, the whole community.

Over the years we have seen Jake grow into a fine young man.  He is quite clever (still “big” on facts and figures and all sorts of useful – and other – general information) and devours books by the truckload.  He is very competent at carrying on conversations that involve the interests of whom he is conversing with – that’s a huge step forward!  He gives people an opportunity to share their opinions and thoughts with him and limits his own participation in the dialect to just three pieces of information at a time – so he doesn’t monopolize  the conversation or “bore” the other person.  I reckon a lot of “neuro typical” people could take a leaf out of his book!  He still loves his video games – now he just doesn’t talk about them for 5 hours at a time!

But that’s just one of the huge steps he’s made.  There are many more.  I could go on and on and on….and on – but then I might sound like I have Asperger’s Syndrome!  lol  So I’ll leave it there……for another day.

For those who aren’t familiar with ASD – please consider taking a little time to understand this complex disorder and the effects on those who have it – and their families.

Take courage all you who have these special, marvellous people enriching your lives.  The work is hard – the rewards are huge.

I consider myself a very, very blessed Mum!

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Hi again – guess who??  I’ve got some news that I just had to share…..my young son is in his second year of high school (groan….the teachers call this a “very trying year for students and teachers alike”…..you know – raging hormones and the like!) and during the last week, made it to the Grand Finals of the Junior spelling competition – which is held every year at his school.  Well, to say his Dad and I were chuffed (proud) would be a massive understatement!!   The night before the competition he brought home 2 whole pages of words to practice!  He would only be tested on 12 words in total – but it was random selection so he had to know how to spell them all.  So we dutifully practiced his words the night before the competition and hoped for the best.  There were 9 Grand Finalist children in his grade and 27 children overall vying for the title of Grand Champion.  I was soooo nervous for him – and I could see that he was really nervous too – but he did so well!!!!   He was in the top 3 going into the final round and the kids had to spell words that weren’t on the practice sheet, so that was a bit of a challenge.  Well he didn’t win Grand Champion overall  but he did get second in his grade and Mum and Dad and Grandma were just bursting with pride!!!

Now what makes this all the more special and incredible is that our boy has ASD (Autistic Spectrum Disorder) – Asperger’s Syndrome, as well as Tourette’s Syndrome!  For him to not only get up on that stage on front of a whole heap of people – but to participate to the extent he did and do so well – was a truly major and momentous achievement!!!  All our years of occupational therapy, training, teaching, perservering, drawing pictures,  helping him to gain confidence and grow as a person – paid off in that one night.  I am very privileged to be a part of this very special, fine young man’s life.

It’s a long weekend here – so if you guys have days off over the break, and are taking advantage of it by going away for a couple of days R&R, please take care if driving anywhere – and I’ll catch you all later!



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