I"m so happy to have found this forum. if any of you have any comments of advice, I am so receptive right now.
My 4&1/2 yr old son attended 3 yr old preschool last year, 2 days a week, 2 hours a day. After 6 months, the teachers wanted me to come in and observe his behavior. Not very social, playing more on his own, not focusing on one activity for very long, etc, acting silly, but with physical play outside he had loads of fun with the other boys, etc.
I had his tested by a speech pathologist, etc, and he did surprisingly well. He's super intelligent, was reading at 3, started doing math at 4, speaking 3 languages, is interested in a wide variety of subjects, but he has loved clocks more than anything, next to the Thomas the train series, since 3. He draws them a lot and they (teachers and speech expert) were worried about this focus.
At home, he is able to focus on activities for long times, and he presented no behavioral problems at all. Schedule changes do not present a problem. Kind of took me by surprise, the preschool worries. He was trilingual at the time, and I thought English being his weakest language might have played a part in this social problem in preschool. Also, we have no family here and he has no siblings or playmates. Usually he plays alone or with me or my husband. My husband, particularly, spends a lot of time teaching our son things, reading, science, math, etc...By the end of the year, I thought that his behavior was so engrained, that it would be good to switch him to a new preschool, to start out fresh.
After one month in a new preschool, Montessori extended day, every day, (9-4) I was hopeful. He's only done 2&1/2 weeks thus far, but the director called me in to say that he is 'different'. He does well during the morning, with circle time, activities, playing with others, etc, but in the afternoon (less structured time) he is not so social. He has a lot of energy and wants to run around, but they insist on a more structured environment. They have tried to sit with him and do higher math, which he is capable of, but he has started to talk about silly things like monsters, etc, won't focus. They also noted that he is not as communicative with the other children as they are with eachother. However, the director did say that she feels he is academically at the second grade level, and she is trying to figure out how to deal with him overall.
Ofcourse my heart dropped (again) as I thought, well, two different preschools and both feeling he is 'different', so I have to go have him professionally evaluated. If he is considered 'subclinical' as my psychologist brother suspects he is, what type of help would be available for him in school? If he is diagnosed with Asperger's (my suspicion, after doing research on my own), will this label be detrimental to him in his life somehow? Is it possible to just help him along socially/behaviorally by reading all the books out there and asking his school to help him out in this way or does every bit of help have to be paid for/funded?
My son is very loving, charming, funny, intelligent, creative, and behaviorally, truly, not a handful. He is not as communicative as I would like, and yet, I see great improvements over the last year and even in the last month at the Montessori school (his vocabulary is improving greatly). He might be 'different'. I am having a hard time seeing that as a negative, but I would like him to fit in socially and experiences the joys of friendships and communication.
Sorry for my rambling, but I'm quite upset and a little confused about which direction to go. I've read lots of posts from the other moms with kids on the autistic spectrum and my hat goes off to all of you. You give me hope and courage with your positive outlooks and strength.
It might help for you to look on the Health Page. You can access this by clicking on the Health Page icon on the top right hand corner of this page. I have posted the clinical diagnostic criteria for autism and aspergers. It is entitled Behavioural Characteristics behind a diagnosis of autism/aspergers (ASDs). This is a list of behaviours that the professionals are looking for when they observe and assess your child. Parents have also posted examples of their child's behaviour that meets the criteria, so that should help you see what kind of things the professionals are looking for.
To get a diagnosis youhave to achieve a certain number of the behaviours eg. 3 out of a list of 6 in each section. If any child fails to achieve that number, or achieves that number in one section but not another, then they will not get a diagnosis of autism or aspergers. They may get a diagnosis of PDD NOS. Or they may not get anything. However, if the professionals felt that the behaviours that were present were typical of autism/aspergers then the supports that your son would find helpful would be exactly the same as for a child with a full diagnosis.
Is it helpful to get a diagnosis? Children with Aspergers tend to get less support than those with autism because they are considered to be more able from a language communication point of view, and they tend to do better academically. That isn't always the case, but that is how it tends to go.
If he doesn't get a diagnosis you could make it clear that you wanted it recorded that he had aspergers type traits. That would help anyone who comes into contact with your son throughout his life to automatically understand the type of difficulties he might have. At his current age, the most important thing is going to be his education. Typically children with autism/aspergers have alot of attention and focus for the things they are interested in and no attention or focus for what they have to do for example in a classroom situation.
If I were you I would be looking for a special educational needs advocate who can tell you what your educational rights are regarding access to supports and therapies with or without a diagnosis and I would be looking for schools that have experience and expertise in aspergers. This may/may not also include other typical children and may be State run or Private. Have a look around all of them to see where you think your son would fit in best.
You are the best judge of your son. It is very typical for these children to have more difficulties in school than at home. I too was called into school after 6 months because my son was showing alot of autistic behaviour that was down to anxiety and stress. He wasn't showing these behaviours at home.
Thanks so much for your detailed response. I will check the Health Info tab for the info you posted. You mentioned your son's school behaviour being due to anxiety and stress (that he didn't feel at home). This was due to frustration at not understanding how to interact socially, etc? I presume that my son is behaving unusually at school for this reason. Thanks again. I really appreciate your response and this forum!
I personally think a diagnosis would be a good thing. Do you live in the US? If you do, he would then get an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) to help address his issues in school, whatever they may be. I, too, have a child who is extremely intelligent, was reading at age 3, etc., which caused much difficulty in school. She is 11, bored to death with the actual school work, which causes her to act inappropriately in class. It is really hard at your son's age because even though he is capable of doing much higher work, he is still a 4 year old. Actually, it was hardest for other people to understand, especially family. I constantly heard, "She's so smart, so why does she act like THAT?!" Good luck to you, it is a difficult road, but I do see things getting better as my daugther matures with age.
Thanks for your comments. We presently live in Vancouver, Canada, but can move to the US since I'm an American citizen and so is my son. (We'd have to sponsor my husband to bring him over though!) I'll have to do some research to see which country would offer the best schooling/help for my son. I read some other posts about the IEP plan and sometimes needing to hire an advocate to get the schools to pay for certain programs if we cannot afford them. Did you have any problems getting your IEP rolling with your daughter?
For now the Montessori teacher seems she has no experience with children like my son, but she said she has resources and will check them. I can only imagine that kids like ours need to be challenged in unique ways and need extra help learning to socialize. If my son can learn several languages I am hoping he can learn social skills in a similar way. Lots of work ahead! It's comforting to know that things get better as they mature.
Actually, we were unable to get my daugther an IEP when she was to enter school. Because we didn't know she had Aspergers, we just knew she was way ahead educationally, but behind behaviorally. They just figured we were pushy parents that pushed her to read early, so since they don't "have" to do anything for kids who are "ahead" of the norm, they said they wouldn't do anything different with her. That was unacceptable, so I homeschooled her until she was 7. At 7, her pediatrician mentioned Asperger's, we read up on it, and it was like "YES--this is it!!" We went back to the school, they did an evaluation for Asperger's, and agreed and she got the IEP. However, many teachers do not know about Aspergers or how to deal with it. Last year when my daugther entered 6th grade her special ed teacher didn't get Aspergers at all, and was horrible--locked her in a 10 x 10 cell for up to 4 times a day! We moved her to a different school within our intermediate school district (the next town over) and they have a classroom that totally works for her. They reward her for her good behavior as opposed to ONLY focusing on the bad behavior. Aspie's need teachers that really care--because they can tell when they don't--and the teachers have to really connect with the child on their level, through their special interests. For instance, my daugther's teacher has rewards for the kids to work towards that are their own favorite thing, like playing video games with the teacher, getting a favorite toy like a Webkinz (which the teacher buys with her own money--she is awesome!), etc. We are a bit worried about where our daugther will go next year, and to be honest, I don't see her fitting into the regular school system because when they start switching teachers every hour, there is no way the teachers can develop the relationship they need to have with these kids. As for learning social skills, yes, they can learn them, and being as intelligent as they are, they probably already know them from reading books. My daugther "knows" what is acceptable and what is not, but when she has "hit a tree" (is stressed, having a meltdown), all that knowledge goes out the window. The big trick for Aspie's is teaching them to be aware of when they are losing it (or going to hit that tree), so hopefully they don't cross the line of being inappropriate. I hope this helps.
That is why you need to find an advocate and start looking around the schools. It is very difficult for a child on the spectrum to be in an 'ordinary' school. The only way that works is if that school has had years of continual experience of children on the spectrum and have built up a groundbase of knowledge and resources.
At my son's first school I was called in because he was banging his head on the wall, scratching at his face, getting under the table and refusing to come out, rolling himself up in the carpet, walking up and down the class, unable to pay attention, appeared deaf, didn't respond to instructions etc etc.
It took my three years to get him a Statement (similar to an IEP in the USA). In the UK you can have IEPs without a diagnosis or statement. However how can they meet the targets on the IEP if no outside professionals are involved and they have no idea of the childs difficulties because there is no diagnosis???
So I visited every school in our district that has experience of children on the autistic spectrum. I found one I liked and I applied for a Special Educational place within that school. I was told they were all full, so I applied for a normal mainstream place and got it. So I am now in a bizarre situation where my son is not classed as special educational needs because all the SEN places are full, yet he gets the SEN support because that is what it says in his Statement.
So I am going to an Educational Tribunal to get it put in his Statement that he must have a SEN school placement within a mainstream school. If I don't do that then the local authority can place my son at any secondary school at the age of 11+ regardless of them having any experience of autism.
He is doing brilliantly at his new school. All the staff know exactly what I am talking about and know exactly what to do. For example, he always gets anxious going into school, so they take him to the quiet room for him to calm down. As soon as he has composed himself he goes into class. They have given him some visual cards that are clipped onto his trousers and if he needs to request the quiet room he can ask for it or he can show an adult the card. That helps him to learn to monitor his own emotions. In his other school there was no quiet room. If he got upset he had to go into class and all his classmates would see him in tears. That was very bad for his self esteem.
At his new school they have also enrolled him on a social interaction programme which will teach social skills to those children who have those types of difficulties.
His new school also have dinnertime clubs so that he doesn't just wander around the playground on his own. He goes to construction, IT, play doh and drum club. All of his work is highly structured. A teaching assistant explains to him what is expected of him, then he goes to his work station and his work is printed in a listed number form. So at his workstation he would take off number 1 from his work list and look for the tray with the number 1 on it. Inside that tray would be his work which the TA would already have explained to him. He will complete his work and put the number 1 in the finished envelope, then he goes back to the TA for her to explain what he has to do for work number 2.
They also use alot of their interests as motivation eg. reading book first and then 15 minutes playing with lego.
My son also says he is very bored. He is very bright, but is not reading or writing independently yet. He has a brilliant visual and auditory memory and presently is simply memorising books rather than reading and remembering the individual words. But he can put together construction kits for 14 year olds (he is 7).
Just follow the trail of other parents of aspergers children to see where they send their children.
I too think my son (almost 4) could have Asperger's. I thought for so long he was just "quirky" or "marched to the beat of his own drum." Now, I am seeing behaviors that are atypical to the social milestones he should be hitting. Any other mom may still dismiss it, but I have my M.Ed. in Mental Retardation and taught children with Autism for 6 years. He makes very little eye contact with anyone. He gets extremely overstimulated in busy places; Walmart is the worst! He does a lot of jumping and hand flapping. He is extremely clumsy and falls a lot. He is so preoccupied with trains that this is the only thing he can talk about from sun up to sun down. He seems to have no boundaries when it comes to the possibility of danger. His conversations are very one-sided and he really has little or no back and forth conversation with us. He talks a lot and seems really bright. Cognitively, he seems right on track. He does have a rather extensive vocabulary. He expresses love but little emotion. He enjoys playing with other kids and will talk to them....about Thomas. Sometimes I have to call him 6, 7, or 8 times to get his attention. We meet with the pediatrician next week and I feel like he is just going to tell us to hold off on testing, but I feel that early intervention in critical; for him and for us. I can teach them, but raising a child with special needs will be a whole new adventure. Any suggestions?
My son is five and is in preschool for social anxiety. He has always been shy and hung on me or his dad when strangers were around but the school says he is possible aspergers. I have read all the posts and searched the internet and can't really find a lot of comparisons to my son and other asperger kids. Evan is having trouble recognizing his letters and numbers. He can write his name and loves to run and play by himself. At school he doesn't talk to the kids or play with the kids unless they ask him to. He is also having trouble with reading comprehension. He doesn't like loud noises like his little brother crying and he loves star wars. He likes watching the movies and playing lego stars wars on ds or wii. He is a very good child and met all of his milestones right on time but seems to have a great deal of anxiety. He still sleeps with his parents all night, ***** his thumb and has a blanket he carries but only in the car or at home. He loves animals but shows alot of anxiety almost panick behavior when people come to the house he isn't use to. He will go to walmart and other places but won't get out of my sight. He is also scared to go to rooms in our house alone. He has a huge imagination and loves to play with his guns and pretend to shoot aliens or zombies. He is really funny and makes jokes and tells silly stories and laughs. Can anyone tell me if this sounds like aspergers? We are on the list for an evaluation but its going to take months to get in. I want to help him but stuck until I can get an appt.
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