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Aspergers - what to do?
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Aspergers - what to do?

Hi,
I am very concerned for my sister who has three children, one of which, the eldest, a twelve year old boy, has Aspergers.  As my nephew has aged, he has become more vocally abusive and confrontational and lately, more threatening and violent.  This behaviour is especially directed towards my sister.  He constantly antagonizes her and his siblings and when he has 'meltdowns' calls her the most disgusting things.  A couple of times he has hit her and in an argument with his 5 year old brother, told him he was going to stab him and then proceeded to walk into the kitchen to the knife draw.  My sister intervened directly when she heard that and nothing, gratefully, became of it.  He has developed an interest in scary movies that show stabbings and murderous themes that I think are totally inappropriate but I do not like to advise my sister who is a calm and intelligent person capable of raising her son.  Also I don't know what it is like to raise a child with Asperger's day in, day out, so don't like to express my opinions on things that I don't live everyday but then again, as my nephew has aged, his behaviour is becoming more and more unacceptable.  Whilst sitting at his computer he made, what sounded like a flippant comment, that he felt like "killing someone".  Is this just attention seeking as part of Asperger's Syndrome or a sign of something more going on?  What is his potential for such violence with this condition - if any?  I am concerned for the safety of my sister, her husband and her other children.  When he has a 'meltdown' it is extremely loud and often quite scary as he seems to go to this 'other place' in terms of his anger and vengefulness.  I don't know how much, if any, is typical of an Asperger's child and how much of this behaviour is non-compliant with this condition - I am tending to think very little. I would like my nephew to assessed by a psychiatrist but have not spoken about this with my sister.  He is so angry 85% of the time when he is at home, yet when he is at school his report appeared to be discussing another child.  It could not have voiced more praise about his 'respectfulness' and 'helpfulness' in the classroom.  It was another child to the one we all see.  I am a teacher and have worked with children who hace Asperger's and I do not believe that this behaviour we are seeing so much more frequently now is at all related to Asperger's but I would like advice about this.  I in no way presume to be an expert nor wish to label any Asperger's child as potentially violent people and I apologise if this causes offence to other families with children who have Aspergers, I only speak directly from my own experience and genuine concern. Please help - I am worried for the safety of my nephew and his future as well as my sister and her family.
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Avatar_f_tn
I am not a doctor but I do have a ton of experience with different ASD severities/disorders. Aspergers is one of the less severe forms of Autism. It sounds like your nephew may need more emotional support. Violence is usually a way to vent frustration. Has your nephew been made fun of for his condition or any other reason at school or home? He should have a therapist in or outside of school to talk with at least weekly. It has to be a therapist (or anyone really. Even you) he can "vent his frustrations to" without fear of backlash. Most autistic children are not violent on purpose. (not meaning to hurt; they just know they're upset) Also, if the child has multiple siblings, the tantrums are probably related to him feeling as though he "never gets any attention" (I can relate, being the youngest of 5 kids) Try having a date night with just Mom and him or even you and him. Just let him know he isn't alone and that everyone wants the best for him. Never underestimate the power of an encouraging word. So, thats my UN~ professional opinion. Date night and weekly counseling. Good luck!
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Avatar_f_tn
I know that it is not uncommon for children with ASD's to have psychiatric diagnoses as well.

If it were me (just as a mom of an ASD child), I would at least want him evaluated by a child psychiatrist to see if there is maybe something else going on.

There may be, there may not be. But I would want a professional's opinion and counseling on how to approach the situation (because it's not appropriate at all) and who could help me.

Good luck... Nothing is ever easy or clear cut :)
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Avatar_n_tn
Thank you - it is very hard for me to voice my opinion to my sister, even though we are close, but this is her son and of course she loves him unconditionally.  I don't want her to think that I feel I could do such a better job than her, I couldn't anyway, her patience with him is phenomenal!  But I also absolutely feel that he needs to be evaluated, the venom that comes from his mouth, his anger, his contempt and disrespect is more than I can bear witness to and it is not right that she shoud bear the brunt of this behaviour ... he is nasty to his brother and sister and disrespectful to his cousins as well and has no qualms about insulting any adult in the family as well.  Most of the time he has a smile on his face which is even worse.  He  demands so much attention and so much of that attention is diverted from his sister and brother which is so unfair.  
Thank you for your advice which is truly appreciated!
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Avatar_f_tn
You are in a hard place as they say.  I read you said that it is hard for you to voice your opinion to your sister.  May I ask why?  You seem very loving and one possibility if you can approach her with your concerns is to offer to watch the others while she seeks more help for the one you are writing about.  If you cannot provide respite perhaps she could find friends or an agency that has an excellent reputation in the community.

It sounds like there are significant issues that need to be dealt with by a Doctor/Psychiatrist/Psychologsit/therapist/Counselor who can run tests & do a physical, suggest behavioral strategies to work with him as well as to find out if there are physical/mental problems in addition to the Aspergers.

Sibling groups are sprouting up also to help family members deal with behaviors.  I wasn't sure how old the other 2 were...sounded like one is 5.

A friend of mine who has a severely autistic son, now 19, stayed at home all the years, even homeschooling the 2nd oldest all the way through and the youngest till 9th grade.  He just graduated this year.  She has had others coming in over the years & tried all sorts of things with him. He lashed out, but is non-verbal.  Nothing was safe from his tearing apart (chairs, blinds, etc.) and chewing on, pulling.....

They are fairly well adjusted but it is due to the way both my friend and her husband built their lives around their son's autism.  They still went to church regularly, either had someone come in to watch their son or my friend stayed home while the rest of the family went to church.  I helped out at times also, so I knew what to watch out for when he was jumping up and down and would come up & try to punch me in the arm.

Limiting access to things that seem to aggravate a situation such as scary movies.  Sometimes things are mechanically repeated without being aware of what they mean with Aspergers.  He/she may like the way they sound or the reaction they see when they say what they say.  Those are things someone working with behavioral issues can address.

Your sister is fortunate to have you willing to offer support and to be so caring.  

Please keep us posted.
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Avatar_f_tn
I have a son who is autistic and have been to many workshops, though I am not a dr.  We use ABA as a treatment.  It has worked tremendously.  He used to act out by hitting me and not using verbalization.  Since beginning treatment he has not had a melt down in over a year.  It is incredible.  We keep him socialized.  If you build your life around them, they never adjust to the (real world).  I recommend ABA which includes positive reinforcement and extinction.  ABA is the study of behaviors and their origin and is used to modify them.  You would be amazed.  Look up skinner and carbone and Applied Behavior Analysis for children with autism.
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Avatar_f_tn
Well I know what Autism is (I will tell you before I l lose all of my brain and awareness) - Autism is characterized I think a neurological disorder of the brain where one does not socialize.

Asperger syndrome or Asperger's syndrome is an autism spectrum disorder that is characterized by significant difficulties in social interaction, along with restricted and repetitive patterns of behavior and interests. It differs from other autism spectrum disorders by its relative preservation of linguistic and cognitive development. Although not required for diagnosis, physical clumsiness and atypical use of language are frequently reported.
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