Autism Archives

Asperger and Driver’s License

We, the family, were beginning to wonder if this day would ever come. Ben did receive his driver’s license this week. For almost two years he has taken a driver’s education course twice and his mother paid for him to go back and just practice driving with the instructor. Ben has been uncomfortable driving with no self-confidence. Most teens are eager to start driving, but not Ben. It was at our insistence that he learn to drive. Now he is comfortable driving and even takes the car alone for short trips to the store etc. Ben is now twenty-two years old; so that gives us hope that he will eventually catch up and do things that other people his age are doing.

Setbacks/Autism-Asperger Syndrome

I haven’t written in quite a while mainly because I have not had anything new to write about. With hesitancy I have decided to tell the truth about what has been happening or about what has not been happening. I have learned that setbacks do happen.

For the past year I felt that Ben was making progress in learning how to seek employment, how to dress appropriately, how to make eye-contact and how to behave in a job interview. In fact, he did learn all of those things; but motivating him to do all of those things is quite another story.

I think I understand why it is so very difficult to motivate him to do the things we all know he should do. He is very aware of his handicap at all times. This includes the fact that he has no friends, and thus, almost no social life except with family. So he rapts himself in his most recent fixation which is playing video games.

Yes, we are at a stand-still now, but I must remind myself again that “giving up” is not an option. So Ben, the family and I will continue to search for ways to help him.

Autism, Asperger/Perseverance

It is very easy to become discouraged; however, we do observe improvement in some areas. Ben is very loving and comfortable with his family, but when others arrive on the scene he prefers to disappear into another room. We believe it is because he does not have the confidence to participate appropriately in conversations that may be going on.

We find it interesting that Ben goes to another room in the house where the computer is. He listens to all conversations that are going on in the living area. Sometimes, the conversation is about current events, history, or geography to which no one knows the answer. Ben, from the other room, answers the question with authority and, of course, it is the correct answer.

Today is November 26th, 2010. We are still working on table manners, personal hygiene, learning to drive, and hunting an appropriate job.
We are still hoping our perseverance and patience will pay off at some time down the road. Giving up is not an option. Ben will be twenty-one in March, 2011.

Asperger Syndrome/Medicines

Previously I have discussed the importance of Ben and anyone who has autism or Asperger’s Syndrome being under the care of a physician whose expertise is mental and emotional problems, a psychiatrist. Everyday I observe Ben when he is medicated and when he is not. There is a huge difference. As sad as this sounds, it is true. When he is medicated his behavior is perfectly normal. His conversations are on the level of an adult and he is happy with no mood swings.

I have explained to Ben that I never miss taking the medications that have been prescribed for me. I am a rheumatoid arthritis patient and I know the consequences of skipping even one dose. (I would be in pain and my ability to walk would certainly be affected.) I explain that taking his meds as prescribed is just as important for him as my meds are to me. Getting him to be responsible for taking his medications as prescribed is an on-going difficulty.

Asperger Syndrome/Look for Strengths

I have already talked about difficulties that Ben has daily. Now I want to stress his strengths. Is that not what each of us should do-look for and stress the particular talents or strengths that each of us has?
I have mentioned on another post that Ben is an excellent writer. He also has a wonderful sense of humor which pops out when we least expect it.
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Ben is very generous. When he hears of a special need that someone has, he quickly offers some of his money to help. He is much more sensitive to the needs of others than he has been given credit for. He is aware of a particular health problem that I have, arthritis. Often he will offer to do something for me so that I will not have to walk which he knows is painful for me.
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We are thankful to have Ben in our family because he has taught us much about patience, about understanding, and about loving people just the way God made them.

Asperger Syndrome/Literal Language

Ben is an intelligent young man and has a wider vocabulary than many older adults. He thinks in concrete terms; so we have discovered he does not immediately understand idioms, sarcasm or some phrases that are meant to be funny. For example, he did not understand the phrase, “It’s raining cats and dogs.” Since he is now twenty years old, he has learned to recognize some of the common sayings. It is best to use plain language with him if we want him to completely understand what we are saying.
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Communicating with words is still difficult for Ben. Sometimes when we ask him, “What are you doing?” He will quickly say, “Nothing.” It is much easier to say “Nothing” than to use words to describe what he is doing. His short answers would be interpreted as lies by some people. But we have learned that it is much easier for him to say one short word than for him to go into detail. There are times when he is willing to communicate at length and we cherish those times.

Asperger Syndrome/What’s Next?

Ben functions much better when he knows what is going to happen next. That is one reason the schedule taped to his binder was very helpful. Even today, when I pick him up at the bus stop, he wants to know, “What are we going to do now?” If I mention that we need to go shopping he immediately rebels. However, if I say, “Ben, tomorrow when I pick you up at the bus stop, we need to go shopping.” He is much more willing to cooperate if he knows well ahead of time what is going to happen next. He definitely does not like “spur of the moment” plans.
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The same is true about touching Ben. He does not like to be surprised by a touch. Before I learned this fact, I poked him with my finger to get his attention. He said, “Don’t touch me like that!” Some might think he was being disrespectful, but I now know he was only protecting himself. Now I ask permission if I want to hug him and I get his attention in other ways.

Helpful Hints for Asperger Children

One thing Ben’s mother learned to do was to print his schedule of classes and tape it to the outside of his binder. This definitely helped him get to the correct class and get there on time.
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Those specialists who work with Asperger students suggested we make detailed lists and post them where needed. This suggestion definitely helped. You may think that such a detailed list would not be necessary, but I assure you, it is necessary. Here is an example that was placed on the bathroom mirror:
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1. Get a clean towel and washcloth.
2. Get into shower and soap body thoroughly and rinse well.
3. Shampoo your hair.
4. Dry body completely with towel.
5. Brush your teeth.
6. Use deodorant under arms.
7. Get dressed using clean clothes.

A life changing event impacted our family eleven years ago when my grandson at the age of nine was diagnosed with Asperger Syndrome, which is a form of autism. I began to study and research the subject so that we could be better equipped to provide adequate help for my grandson. Until the time of the diagnosis, I had no idea how the entire family would be affected.
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The first thing I did was search for a definition of autism. The best way to describe it is that it is a neurological disorder that affects a person’s development in the areas of communication and social skills. I also learned that no two people will have exactly the same symptoms nor the same level of severity.
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After hearing a lecture from a leading authority at the time, I learned that Asperger Syndrome is a high-functioning form of autism. Not unlike regular autism, there are many levels of severity. Most Asperger children are slow in learning to walk, talk and become potty trained. Even though Ben, my grandson, was formally diagnosed at the age of nine, I have observed the symptoms of Asperger Syndrome in him since he was a baby in his high chair. For the last twenty years I have been actively involved with helping Ben. My first hand knowledge and hands-on experience in dealing with his handicap uniquely qualifies me to speak with authority on this subject.
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I will be writing future articles regarding my experience with Ben and will cover subjects such as Asperger symptoms, early signs, school problems, medical treatment and counseling. I will also include essays written by Ben which express his feelings about being a person who has Asperger Syndrome.
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If you have a child who exhibits any signs of Asperger, I want to encourage you to seek professional help from competent medical personnel who are specialists in dealing with autism. It may be that your child, after being properly diagnosed, does not have Asperger Syndrome but it is better to be safe than sorry. Early intervention by professionals is critical because Asperger children can be prone to depression which,in turn, could result in them being harmful to themselves or others.

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