Friday, April 17, 2009

Signs of Asperger's (in my daughter)

The following is a list of some of the reasons we believe our daughter has Asperger's. We have a consultation scheduled with a specialist in Autism Spectrum Disorders in a few days and will proceed from there. Taking this one step at a time.

Our daughter:

*Has many collections of small items organized neatly in her room (cards, shells, small toys). As a two year old, she would line up small objects on the edge of her crib. We've always thought that was cute, but are now beginning to wonder if it's a part of AS.
*Talks about her 'best friends' but is avoided by her peers.
*Has odd, rigid ways of carrying herself; stomps when walking; doesn't know what to do with her hands; has no sense of another's personal space.
*Has meltdowns when she gets frustrated; seems unaware what others may think of her behavior.
*Has odd tones of voice; high-pitched, monotonous, or repeating phrases three times in rapid succession.
*Will make blunt, rude comments about how others look and not realize she was being rude.
*Takes things literally.
*Occasionally repeats the last word of someone else's sentence; will sometimes say "you're welcome" instead of "thank you" to a compliment.
*Is highly sensitive to smells, temperature, and textures (will only wear cotton knit clothing).

These are just a few of our concerns. For years we have thought she was badly behaved, immature, and would outgrow these behaviors with time and instruction. But we know that none of her younger siblings do these things. The most difficult observation of late is realizing that her peers are beginning to stare and even laugh at her. These observations along with recent episodes of odd behavior have made us seriously question if there might be a neurological component to what we are seeing in our child.

Signs of Asperger's

There are many sites which list various signs and symptoms of Asperger's Syndrome and it's been helpful to google and study as many as possible. I repeatedly read that because this is a spectrum, a person can have some but not all of the symptoms and it can be in varying degrees per person. I've also found that because AS runs in families, "you probably don't have to look far into the family tree to find AS."

Some symptoms listed By Mayo Clinic staff

Signs and symptoms of Asperger's syndrome include:
*Engaging in one-sided, long-winded conversations, without noticing if the listener is listening or trying to change the subject.
*Displaying unusual nonverbal communication, such as lack of eye contact, few facial expressions, or awkward body postures and gestures.
*Showing an intense obsession with one or two specific, narrow subjects, such as baseball statistics, train schedules, weather or snakes.
*Appearing not to understand, empathize with or be sensitive to others' feelings.
*Having a hard time "reading" other people or understanding humor.
*Speaking in a voice that is monotonous, rigid or unusually fast.
*Moving clumsily, with poor coordination.
*Having an odd posture or a rigid gait.

Praying for Wisdom

There have been many times over the years that I have struggled to understand my spouse. Disagreements that ended in tears (for me) would puzzle me. If only I could understand what was going on. . . I just couldn't put my finger on why things had to be so confused and confusing. Why can't he understand how I'm feeling? Why does he get so frustrated if I ever disagree with him? How can this man who loves me, walk right by me when I'm crying?

I often pray a general plea of "HELP, Lord!" But until recently hearing a sermon on the book of James, I had not faithfully prayed specifically for wisdom. James 1:5 says that if anyone lacks wisdom, let him ask God (who gives to all men liberally) for wisdom, and wisdom will be given to him. But verse 6 says he must ask in faith without any doubting that he will receive wisdom. And verse 7 says the man who doubts will not receive anything.

A few days after praying that prayer for wisdom, I began researching Asperger's for the first time. Some would believe this to be a happy coincidence, but I thank God for answering my prayer. Now I must remember to keep praying for wisdom as this journey continues.