Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Could Asperger's kids fake behaviors?

It's important to remember that our children with Asperger's are just that, children. They will grow and learn a variety of behaviors just like any other children will. What can start to get difficult is keeping track of an Asperger's behavior and a "naughty child" behavior. It appears there can be a thin gray line.

So, how do you know when you are dealing with an "aspie" behavior or some "faked" behavior to get away with something?

The first thing is to know your child and how they react. Children with Asperger's are often honest to a fault. At times when my son thought it was funny to try and irritate me, he came right out and said so. It was his honest feeling that such was a funny thing to try and do. That stands as a direct example of how they can get inappropriate social ideas that can and will get them into trouble.

When my son tries to get out of something, he makes up terrible excuses that he believes will get him out of what ever situation he's trying to escape. He will claim that something is "too much" for him, but his reactions will give him away. I know his behaviors and the difference between the excuses and actually getting out of hand.

The bottom line is that we, as parents, stick to our proverbial guns in what we expect. It may take more time and patience, but we set the rules and stick by them. Discipline will not always work in the method of "justice like lightning" and they may require a warning shot first to remind them of where they need to be in behavior. That means that they are informed of what they are doing wrong and given a chance to correct it with consequences fully stated. Information does need to be clear and direct. Also, don't state a consequence you don't intend to deliver.

Finally, our children on the spectrum have to know that just because they have a condition, does not mean they are immune to rules that everyone else has to follow. It's a tricky path, but our kids count on use to teach them so that they have a chance out in the adult world when they get there.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

The tests for autism (by name)

What are the tests used to diagnosis and evaluate autism? I have five tests to tell you about that are used for exactly that. I may do you well to ask about them by name. If your child's school has their own diagnosis team, ask them if they use these tests. If they don't you should ask what kind of criteria they follow and get to know it. Click on the abbreviation to learn more about the test at wikipedia.

ADOS (Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule): Quote from wikipedia: The ADOS generally takes from 30 to 60 minutes to administer. During this time the examiner provides a series of opportunities for the subject to show social and communication behaviors relevant to the diagnosis of autism.[2] Each subject is administered activities from just one of the four modules. The selection of an appropriate module is based on the developmental and language level of the referred individual. The only developmental level not served by the ADOS is that for adolescents and adults who are nonverbal.[1] A revision, the ADOS-2, is currently in development with a release goal date in early 2011. It will include improved algorithms for Modules 1 to 3 and a new Toddler Module that facilitates assessment in children ages 12 to 20 months.

ADIR (Autism Diagnosis Interview Revised): This long interview requires friends and family of the patient to answer questions about the patient in order to determine a diagnosis. It is often used hand in hand with other tests like the ADOS. I've heard it called the world's longest questionnaire.

CARS (Childhood Autism Rating Scale): Specifically for children, it's not unheard of that school diagnosis teams may use this. Be sure to look at the list of criteria in the link.

ASDS (Asperger's Syndrome Diagnosis Scale): Wikidpedia didn't actually have this one so I had to find a link elsewhere. This test may be a little out of date now since all the forms of autism have been lumped for purpose of diagnosis. Still, you may find the information interesting if not useful.

GAF (Global Assessment of Functioning): The purpose of this test is to see how well you function with your symptoms and if symptoms show themselves or how much they show themselves. My own score was a 45. That puts me in the severe bracket. I can do most of my household things, but burn out quickly and have to rest more than most people do. By the way, as you read the level descriptions, know that there is no frequent shop lifting here (I say with a grin)! This test is also used in determining disability.

So there you have five official and professionally recognized and used tests. Hopefully this gives you a touch more information to use at your fingertips.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

He thought he was in trouble...

This morning my son came to me after getting dressed for his day with something he ached to tell me. He said it like he was confessing some dire crime and expected that he would be punished in some way. This happens once in a great while and I attribute it to the confusion we face in social settings of all kinds. It may seem silly, but it really does make our lives awkward.

"Dad, I didn't want to wake you, but I got up to go to the bathroom last night and got two drinks of water."

I know, how could a child ever be in trouble for something like that? I had always told him it was perfectly okay to get up for such things, but in early bed training days he must have attributed it to being taught not to get out of bed in the middle of the night. Of course, in those days, it meant getting up to empty the refrigerator onto the kitchen floor or climb on top of something. It meant letting the pet rats out and we feared for his safety. He was just too capable a child for his own good. But all that has changed, he's grown into quite a big boy.

For that matter, he was pleasantly surprised by my response: "That was a very big boy thing for you to do." I explained that I would far rather he get up and use the bathroom than have an accident in bed. I also said that it was okay to get a drink of water when he did that. The other difference he may have confused was that, at bedtime itself, he has already gone to the bathroom and had his drink, so another isn't needed. So it's also explained that waking up in the night and having to go is okay.

Finally there's the big boy points for putting himself back to bed when he's afraid of the dark. Big kudos and another look at our perspectives.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Inappropriate social behaviors

Having difficulties with social interaction can be such a double edged sword. On one side they may be withdrawn and solitary. They may not try to play with other children. They may even claim they don't want to. It's not easy feeling awkward all the time.

But what about the other side of that? The ones who go too far in social interaction because of the intense desire to try and be part of things going on? They may try too hard and push people away or engage in invasive or obnoxious behavior. They may climb all over strangers (as my son did).

My son loves explosions and thinks everything has to explode. Before his meds kick in each day, he's deep in fantasy and can be very loud. Even still, he may run up and "explode" right in someone's face. "BOOM!" "PKOW!" "I'm a bomb!" His meds help him slow down and consider his behavior before he does it and school has been a big help with their support. But you can see how this invasive behavior would drive people away or make them think negatively of a child.

Another angle is inappropriate humor. Humor is a touchy thing socially and handled wrong will cause all sorts of problems. Our kids see humor used and try to do so themselves. Many will just do what they think is funny regardless of the reality. Parents and other kids will find this aggravating and it will bring about a long scale of problems. It could invite negative behavior from other children, even bullying. This is where knowledge about what your child is doing could be helpful. Teachers and probably some students need to know that the real problem is not knowing proper humor. That way, they can give feedback to the autistic child that's helpful rather than hurtful. "That's not funny and I don't appreciate it." Direct social feedback that's important for our children to learn the consequences of their behaviors.

Some may even think that triggering anger and frustration is funny. My son tries very hard to trigger my own autistic senses in the mornings. He finds getting reactions out of others or at least me, to be quite funny. Well, it's funny until he earns a consequence and goes to time out, then it's not funny anymore. Where has he learned that? It's likely he's come across other children who taunt for the same reasons, to see reactions in others.

So, learning to be proper in social circles is a daunting and complicated task. It requires great patience, time and constant support. Yes, there are times I feel like I have to shout because my poor ears are ringing from what ever sound he's droning for attention. On some, he just doesn't get the attention, on others consequences are necessary for learning. Good luck in your social teaching endeavors.