Monday, March 12, 2012

Is Asperger's Hereditary? Another Son with Asperger's?

This blog has always had the little bit at the top that says, "Our experiences with 2 Aspies, maybe 3....", as our son MJ has Asperger's, my husband, and then we have always suspected our youngest daughter Rose to have it also.  Well, today, we might be adding another number to that tally.  We think our second son, Thomas, probably has Asperger's as well.

I suppose this is not just an all of the sudden realization that Thomas could have Asperger's.  All the signs have been there, yet we have chose to ignore them.  In some ways, his symptoms have been so extreme that they are almost shouting at us----"Hello!!!!  This is Asperger's!!!"  But why haven't we paid attention?

Back when our oldest son, MJ, was being diagnosed, the team of doctors mentioned to us that we should keep our eye on his younger brother, as he seemed to show some similarities, but I thought they were talking more about how he was really smart and reading at a young age like his older brother did.  

Thomas is our second son who is now 9 years old.  He's had his little eccentricities, but not in the same way as his older brother.  While he is very literal like his brother, I thought it was just from copying what his brother said.  He seems to have a lot of opposition when it comes to changing events or when something doesn't go the  way he planned, but I have always taken his whining and complaining as just that---stubbornness.  

Then there is the huge sensory issue.  Thomas cannot handle extreme sounds like high pitched noises, children screaming, a lot of commotion in a room, or he has always held his ears in pain whenever I vacuum.  As far as textures go, he freaks out by the feel of half of his clothes always complaining that they are not soft enough or scratchy.  No matter how hard I try to find the softest textures of PJ's, at night I always find him practically naked under the one and only fleece blanket that he will accept as he won't let any other blanket touch him.  He sleeps on top of his bedspread. 

As far as social things go, I've never really noticed that Thomas has problems talking to other kids or if he misunderstands social cues.  But then again, he is 9 years old and has never had a play date.  While he believes that "everyone" is his friend, I have never had another kid come over and ask to play or a parent ask to set up a play date.   He isn't invited to birthday parties.  Hmmm....

He has an extreme problem of not being able to look people in the eye.  I think it drives his piano teacher insane that he will never look at her when she is talking to him.  Actually he is usually looking anywhere but at the person talking to him.  He'll play the piano while intensely focusing on an object across the room.  How he does that and still plays so well is amazing to me at times, but it also seems not so good when at piano lessons as it seems he is not paying attention.  Well, that and how he seems to have this a little too long delay in his responses or you have to direct him to answer the teacher when she asks him a question or says "hi, how are you?" 

OK, so hello again!!!!  Look at all these things.....aren't they all just screaming "Asperger's!!!!"??? 
Well, no, we still just shrug it off.  
Actually, we were more concerned with a different problem affecting Thomas.  A few years ago we started to notice all these noises and facial tics with Thomas.  It began with sniffing, then gulping, swallowing, making clicky throat noises, then scrunching up his face and nose, making fish faces and blinking his eyes.  This seemed more out of whack for us ( I suppose we were used to all the other Asperger like traits) so we began taking him to doctors to figure things out.  There, it came to be that Thomas had Tourette Syndrome.  Tourette's is a condition where people tic and they can't control it.  Well, they may be able to suppress it, but it usually ends up exploding out after a while.  Now, many think it is the "swearing" disorder, but that is actually a form of Tourette's that is not always involved.  

So there----Thomas just has Tourette's.  Or so we thought.....

As we took him to different doctors, the thoughts of ADHD or hyperactivity disorders came around.  Well, yes, Thomas was the most hyper of all my children, and I swear I could not get him to focus on anything for longer than a minute!  It drove me absolutely insane!!!  He was always distracted by anything and everything!  While they evaluated him for that, they didn't seem to think he could be able to play the piano as well as he could if he had ADD or ADHD.  That, and our evaluations didn't match up with one overprotective teacher who scored him at all zero's.  We did learn that with Tourette's there is a lot of hyperactivity, so we just left it at that.

OK, back to the point of this post---the possibility of Asperger's.  Is it hereditary?  I believe it is, along with many other doctors.  But how much is hereditary and how much is just learned behavior?  I mean, younger brother has older brother and dad to look up to and they both have Asperger's.  How do I know what is him and what is just copied?  

Well, if all these characteristics weren't enough, a big one we have never connected is Thomas's massive obsessions.  I just thought he was an interesting kid who only wanted to play the piano for hours as a 4 year old.  Or, sure, my kid has obsessed about maps and atlases since he was 3 years old and spends hours just looking at maps, following roads, or making up games with atlases.  Sure, he likes to take the phone book into the car with us so he can go through every street and every map.  So.  Or, little teeny notebooks and papers.  He has to have every single thing or book that is mini.  It doesn't matter if it is some mini sized book about dirt.  It's mini, it's called "pocket" whatever, and he has to have it.  

I recently looked up an article that listed the characteristics of Asperger's in kids at, and although he doesn't seem to show the social clueless signs of Asperger's (well, maybe, I suppose he does think everyone is his best friend, but then nobody plays with him), all the other signs are there staring at me in the face.  That, and I was interested to see one of the symptoms they listed was "may have facial tics".  Hmmm...  

So now what?  Where do we go from here?  Do I need to have him evaluated?  Will doctors think I am crazy?  Do we just leave it be?  Well, this can be dilemma for another post.  But until then, I think I just might change my little description up there to "maybe 3.....maybe 4....."

Monday, January 2, 2012

Asperger's Syndrome and Too Much Commotion

Even though we have 2 people in our family with Asperger's Syndrome (while I will still believe our youngest is going to be #3), they can each still be somewhat different than each other.  Generally, it seems that most people with Asperger's Syndrome tend to shy away from crowds or not like a lot of commotion.  With our family it seem some of both.  

We had a free gift certificate to a children's museum that was about to expire, so on a day off, we took the family up for a visit.  I guess everyone else in the state had the same idea, because the place was packed!  

Our youngest, Rose, who had been doing so much better around other people and learning to talk more in preschool, was at first excited to enter a play area, but as soon as others came in, she was afraid and shrunk away from any play.  

Our son, MJ who is the officially diagnosed Aspie, wasn't bothered at all.  That is one thing different with him.  He seems to run around in any situation not so much worrying about who or what is going on.  He is almost oblivious to it all.  This can be good or bad at times.  I guess it is great that all the people and loudness don't bother him, but rather it is that he doesn't know how to act in the right situations.  He can be loud and obnoxious in a quiet setting and not understand why it matters, or he can be too soft in a loud situation so as no one can hear anything he is saying.  But, at least he was having fun and it didn't bother him that there was a billion other kids running around like mad.

Then of course, there was my husband who seemed to be affected the most.  He doesn't have huge meltdowns or freak out in a loud way, but when something is bothering him, I can see it in his eyes that he is having this internal battle or meltdown in which he needs to get out of the situation ASAP or he is going to lose it.  Well, this is what he was doing.  And, really, I couldn't blame him, as it was really crazy in this place today.   

But anyway, I could see that he needed to get out of there.  It was just too much.  There was too much noise and too many people.  But where could he escape to?  

In the corner of the toddler/baby area was a little "Nursing Mothers Area" where moms could go and nurse their babies in a sort of quieter corner.  I laughed when I look across the large room to see him and our youngest hiding with the nursing moms just reading a book and pointing out pictures together.  

It is interesting.  I know this isn't the first time for them to not be able to handle the craziness of something.  When our 2nd son had a birthday party with over 12 kids in the backyard one year, even that was too much for my husband.  It is often if there is too much going on, too many people, or just too much noise, that afterward he will have to go to a sort of quiet place to get himself back together for an hour or more.  The more the commotion and craziness, the longer he'll need to take to feel better.  You can't even talk to him at times.  He needs to just be by himself and have his own time to do whatever he wants.  I try to be good.  I try to let him have his time and know that when he has settled down that he can be back to his old self again.