Adam has Aspergers Syndrome
Adam, age 8, has difficulty making and keeping friends. He struggles to understand the subtle cues, nuances and elements of non verbal communication that make up social interaction … read more >
Darren also has Aspergers
Darren is 16 and in Transition year at a large secondary school. The primary focus of his attention at the moment is his computer and the online role playing game “World of Warcraft” … read more >
Children with Aspergers, what symptoms might you recognise?
Every child develops differently, however some differences may indicate a developmental disorder or delay. This is where important developmental milestones or stages are missed or delayed. Aspergers Syndrome is described as a pervasive development disorder, part of the Autistic Spectrum and is sometimes called high-functioning autism. Aspergers Syndrome is called pervasive because it affects a wide variety of behaviours and abilities. Many children with Aspergers Syndrome also have sensory processing difficulties.
Children with Aspergers Syndrome often find social situations extremely trying and stressful. They frequently have stereotypical patterns of behaviour and can be obsessive about very specific interests, in addition to some speech and language peculiarities and issues with non-verbal communication,
Many of these young people have average or above average intelligence – but lack the skills to communicate easily, have very poor social skills and may not be able to empathise or relate well to other children or adults. These children often have great difficulty ‘reading’ other people’s emotions or feelings.
While the above describes Asperger Syndrome in children, these difficulties can persist through teenage and adult life. However with family and school supports and with early intervention, young people with Aspergers do go on to have full, happy and successful lives.
What is Aspergers Syndrome?
Asperger’s Syndrome is a neuro-biological disorder and is clinically described as an Autistic Spectrum Disorders – others being Autistic Disorder and Pervasive Developmental Disorders-Not Otherwise Specified (PDD NOS).
Internationally Aspergers Syndrome is estimated at 36 per 10,000 children; this amounts to close to 4,000 children under the age of 18 in Ireland and it is 7 times more prevalent in boys than in girls.
The way that Aspergers Syndrome affects a child differs widely, with wide differences in academic ability and functioning. Given the absence of a significant language delay, Aspergers can often be identified quite late when a child begins pre-school or primary school – a period when difficulties with social relationships can come to light.
A recent study in Ireland (Task Force on Autism, 2001) found that the diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorders, including Aspergers Syndrome, in Ireland can be a problem – characterised by significant delays resulting in many children with Asperger’s Syndrome not being diagnosed until adolescence or later.
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Adam has Aspergers Syndrome
TV3 Interview with parent
Diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome at age 3 years, Killian’s parents didn’t know where to turn next to help their child. But after hearing about Cluas from a friend … for more >
Adam has difficulty making and keeping friends. He struggles to understand the subtle cues, nuances and elements of non verbal communication that make up social interaction with his schoolmates or friends. He has trouble understanding his emotions and the emotions of others. He does not appreciate turn taking, nor does he register when somebody else is no longer interested in what he is saying. Adam will talk endlessly about his all absorbing interest in trains, even when the conversation has moved on to other topics.
At school when there are lots of different things happening, he flaps his arms. He does this in an attempt to deal with all the excitement or sensory information that he has to cope with. His schoolmates do not understand why he does this and think that it is a bit strange, which only leads to further social isolation.
Adam is also a little clumsy and uncoordinated; this is due to a deficit in the functioning of a system in his inner ear, his vestibular system. This means that he is often the last one to be picked for a team, and when he is picked, he can’t play football as well as he would like.
After completing a Cluas programme, Adam’s parents notice that lots of new things are happening. He is more clued into what is going on around him. After misbehaving he said to his mother “you’re angry at me, aren’t you?”, this was the first time that Adam showed that he had an understanding of how another person was feeling.
While he sometimes still finds social interactions difficult and overwhelming, his social skills far exceed what they were prior to him completing his Cluas program. He is still fascinated by trains, however when his parents or brothers tell him that they have had enough of trains for the moment, Adam is able drop the subject.
The supermarket was always a very stimulating place for Adam, the sights, sounds and all the different things to buy. His flapping was often at its worst while doing the shopping with his family. On a recent trip to the supermarket his parents were very surprised that there was almost no flapping and that he was able to help. On the way home in the car he told a joke, which for the first time was genuinely funny and had his whole family in tears of laughter.
The Cluas Program also resulted in a much-improved vestibular system; his balance and co-ordination are also greatly improved. Adam and his classmates have found out that he is quite the goalkeeper and he is happily picked for a team at yard time.
The result of the Cluas program for Adam, is that his social awkwardness has dissipated. He now finds it easier to be around others and others find it less stressful being around him. He has a much greater understanding of not only his own emotions and feelings but also those of others. He has friends calling to the door; his schoolwork is getting better and better, especially maths, which was an area that had always posed a little difficulty. He has developed new interests, though trains will always have a special place.
Adam’s self confidence is no longer a worry for his parents; he is happy and all areas of his life are blossoming.
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