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Sunday, March 18, 2012

Is it Asperger's Autism or Just a Precocious Child?

Being a parent to a special child is exhausting. Autism is thought to be a condition where a child draws within, rocks, flaps, or conducts his or herself in a manner that avoids speech. But, Asperger's is a form of autism that is not even always diagnosed. Some children with Asperger's autism never stop talking. I can relate.

The other day I had a walk around a lake in a park near our house. My son (age 11) was with me. He has always been known as a talker. When he was 3, he talked to us the entire 1 1/2 hour car ride back from a weekend away of riding bikes. His topic was the plot of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. he was 3, yet he talked on and on for the entire trip. His sister, who was a toddler at the time, fell asleep.

As she grew, I began to realize that her instant sleep appeared to be her coping mechanism for dealing with her brother's behaviors.

But, I digress.

Back to the lake with my son.

The entire trek around the lake takes us about 45 minutes. As we stepped foot onto the path, he began talking about Disney's website. He is currently very much into animation and programming languages. He began to tell me detail after detail of this site and detail after detail about Kim Possible (a show that Disney used to create). After 27 minutes, he paused. I had said hardly anything to this point. I pointed out that he had talked about Kim Possible for 27 minutes. He was surprised. It wasn't long, however, that he continued on and kept talking till we reached the van back in the parking lot. Over 40 minutes of solid Disney website and talk about Kim Possible.

My son has not officially received the medical diagnosis of Asperger's Syndrome. Yet, from the time he was very small, I have continued to ask: "Is it Asperger's Autism or is he just a precocious child?" Though, the more I research it, the more I believe he exhibits traits. When he was not quite 2 years old, I had become worried about his behaviors. I mentioned it to his pediatrician, who then asked me how many words he was speaking. When I told him the count was well over 100 at that point, the doctor simply laughed. But, my son revealed many eyebrow raising behaviors. He had many sensory issues. At his birth, he was screaming and turning purple before he was even fully birthed. When I would take him into a crowd, he would become agitated and cry. When it was too noisy, he would become erratic. Once he was taken out into a calm environment, he would be his happy self again as if nothing happened. He taught himself to read fluently by the age of 3 (basically, I did show him letter sounds and Dick and Jane - Upon his demand to read it). This amazed us as much as it terrified us.

Today, he is 11. He is very bright and very talkative. Many believe him to be Einstein-level genius. As his parent, I continue to be amazed as much as I am terrified.

His latest interests are computer programming languages, gaming (non violent) and animation (including cartoons). He has a tendency to draw into only what interests him. And, I fear we will lose him into his thoughts if we don't stay aggressively insistent that he also socially interact.

He has kept us on our toes as parents as we are determined to give him what he needs, yet he can exhaust us and wear us down with his insistence, fixations and logical reasoning to the point of argument over simple requests.

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