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Does my son have Aspergers???
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natesse316 posted:
Hello:

My now 11 year old son has been a "difficult child" since the day he was born. A friend at work recently suggested to me that he may have Aspergers, so I've been researching, and he deifinitely has some of those characteristics. At this point, his behavior is causing some very disturbing chaos in our home that is affecting everyone.

About Jesse. He is moody, frequently withdrawn, self-centered, self-absorbed, lacks empathy, almost every word that comes out of his mouth is a lie, or for the explicit purpose of furthering his desires. He seems to care for no one but himself, but at the same time, he struggles with it. It's like he knows his attitude isn't quite right, but lacks the ability to change it.

He will not look directly into your eyes when speaking, he speaks in monotones, or when he's feeling happy, he speaks as an old Englishman with a very fancy vocabulary. He is a brilliant, gifted child academically, but socailly, he is very inept.

Jesse obssesses with different subjects about once every 2-3 years. It used to be insects, mainly wasps. He is truly an expert.

He obssessed over a girl at school last year, his first crush, and came away devastated when she rejected him.

Now, his obssession is Legos. I recently took the Legos away from him as punishment, and you would think his whole world is coming to an end. He has talked of killing himself, and has threatened me. It's not normal.

This isn't the first time he's talked about suicide (that is regularly declared whenever he gets into trouble and is disciplined/punished), but it is the first time he has threatened me, and he made good on that threat, and now he is struggling with remorse and guilt because as usual, he doesn't understand the natural law of consequences.

Jesse called his father and told him my fiancee' was beating him, and that I threw away his Legos. Both lies. There's not a person in Jesse's life from his teachers to classmates to my friends and family, including his father, who doesn't know that Jesse would rather lie than tell the truth, even when caught red-handed, but his lie is causing some serious issues between his father and I, and it is threatening the peace of my household.

Jesse is now greatly distressed, but instead of understanding that his lie caused this situation to arise, he's gone from blaming me for taking away the Legos to blaming his father for over-reacting, and now he won't speak to his father.

Jesse doesn't sleep well, and he doesn't eat well. He constantly has dark circles under his eyes. I've noticed lately that when he gets anxious he will tap his fingers together.

We have no family history of Autism in any form, but Jesse sure seems to fit Aspergers in many ways.

My mother was chronically depressed and took meds her whole life, and I also have a nephew who was placed on many different anti-depressants as a teenager, but didn't really resolve his problems and start leading a normal life until he was put on Lithium.

I don't really know what to do. I don't want to end up in a situation with Jesse where he is labeled and stigmatized, and ends up being medicated with God knows what, but the flip side is, we can't continue like this. It's destroying my household.

Any advice on what to look for in a counselor, what to avoid, what to do, will be greatly appreciated.

Thank you so much.
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EduAdvocate responded:
Hi -

Yes, Jesse does sound like he may be an Aspie, but it would be far better to have him evaluated by a clinician with lots of experience. If he has difficulty in school in academics or from social or other developmental delays, he qualifies for services through his school.

Write the director of Special Ed and request they evaluate him to find out what they can do to help. You can locate an autism center that can perform an eval, as well. Check to see if they accept insurance or wait until the school finishes theirs and request the autism center perform one as a second opinion. Under federal law (IDEA) they are required to pay, but only if you ask.

The moody, frequently withdrawn, self-centered, self-absorbed, lacks empathy is often part of AS. Their brain operates different from other people. They think, react and process information differently, as well. A common complaint is that they don't act their age, which is supported by research that found that many Aspies lag behind their 'normal (neurotypical - NT) peers by 1/3 in the areas of their developmental delays, so it is not unusual for them to prefer befriending kids several years their junior.

Many Aspies, as you note, become experts in very limited fields. The schools are intent on making all kids into generalists, so they call their interests 'obsessions' that they want to suppress. Since these kids can be destined for hard times in the job market with 'normal' skills, nurturing and building upon the 'pre-occupations' can help level the playing field for them.

"Now, his obssession is Legos. I recently took the Legos away from him as punishment, and you would think his whole world is coming to an end. He has talked of killing himself, and has threatened me. It's not normal."

Aspies see life in terms of black vs white, yes, vs no, good vs bad, all in absolutes, with no middle ground and no shades of gray. When they are 'punished' with negative responses, they don't understand why saying or doing something warrants the loss of his personal property and they believe that what was taken away is gone forever. It IS the end of their world.

You don't want to have to back down or force him to extremes, so try to head off incidents before they get to that point. Misbehaving is often a matter of seeking attention, so using positive rewards and ignoring or minimizing negative incidents will encourage him to do what's expected and build his self esteem in the process.

The lying may be part of a coping mechanism gone awry. Aspies are out of step with the world and try to develop actions, behaviors and mannerisms to help them fit in. They go to great lengths to keep from being 'bad.' In their world of absolutes, they take that to mean that THEY are bad, where bad equates with evil, foul and useless. Lying was successful at deflecting criticism and was reinforced over time.

Dealing with Jesse's actions will require that all of the adults in his life address the situation the same way. Make the successes more important than failures and avoid those questions which he is likely to lie about. As you learn his buttons and how to defuse him, you will figure out how to keep from lighting the fuse . . . his or yours.

That your mom and your nephew were on psych drugs is not proof of a link, but it is possible. As you become more familiar with the behaviors involved, it's likely that you will be able to look at the family tree and find others who were odd, strange or weird enough to be on the spectrum, too.

The Autism Society's web site should be able to point you to professionals in your area, including diagnosticians and counselors. Make sure they have experience with the issues displayed by Jesse.

Please don't take the suicide threats lightly. If you think it was more theatrical than intent, tell the counselor and enlist their help. If you haven't already, have dad return Jesse's Legos and start working on the posi
 
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EduAdvocate responded:
When the school's evals are finished, there will be a meeting to establish the services, curriculum and accommodations he will have to help him in school. Don't worry about labels. They are a necessary part of the process and something he will need to get help later in life. If the change in dealing with him doesn't work quickly enough (or his depression warrants it) medications might be the appropriate way to go. That is between you and his counselor.

Good luck and God bless.
 
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natesse316 replied to EduAdvocate's response:
Hi Edu:

Thank you so much for your response. I've been speaking with people on another Aspie forum that is very active. There are adult Aspies and parents of children with AS. It has been helping tremendously.

Other people included in that spectrum in my family would be me. I had no clue because of the way my childhood developed. I won't go into details here, because I have spent so much time and energy posting every little detail on the other forum, and I am receiving excellent support and advice from those folks. They are absolute lifesavers.

Our family has already begun modfying interactions with Jesse, and we're working on dietary habits as well.

Jesse is scheduled on 10/8 for the first of a four part evaluation with a private Psychologist who specializes in Autism/Aspergers/ ASD. She will also be going to his school to interview his teacher. I am paying for this out of my own pocket, and prefer it this way.

Since I found the other forum, I won't be posting here anymore, but I did want to thank you and let you know that we are already making progress with Jess....


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