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Old 07-25-2006, 06:58 AM   #1
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Could it be Aspergers?

Hi everyone,

A lot of you already know me, but I will summarize my situation for those who don't. I am the mom of 4 kids. I have a 7 year old daughter, a 6 year old (PDD-NOS) daughter, a 3 year old daughter, and a 22 month old (PDD-NOS) son. We have been having some difficulties with our 7 year old for a while now, and I have always had the feeling that something was up with her. After the diagnosis of my other daughter and my son with an autism spectrum disorder, I felt the push to have my 7 year old evaluated for her delays. Her pediatrician felt that she had ADHD. In fact, he was willing to go ahead and make the diagnosis. But I was not convinced that was the answer. I really felt there was something more going on. Because of her difficulties in school, we decided to have her see a Neuropsychologist for Neuropsych testing. We met with the Dr. twice now, we filled out questionaires, did the parent interview, and our daughter has had two full days of testing with her. She has not officially given us any diagnosis yet, but when we were in the parent interview and telling her about our concerns, she mentioned the possibility of it being Aspergers. Aspergers never even crossed my mind when it came to her. I guess because my other daughter is so different from her, I did not think that she could be on the spectrum as well. But many people tell me that two kids on the spectrum can look completely different. So, if you don't mind, I would like to list my concerns and see if anybody has any input.

-Although she met her language milestones on time, she did not really have conversational language until she was about 3.5. She said the 5 words before she was 1 and the 50 words before she was two, but she just barely met these milestones.
-She is now 7 and has had a horrible time in school. She is in Title 1 for reading, and very behind her peers in reading. She seems to have trouble with consistency. She can read the word one day, but cannot read the same word the next day.
-She studies her spelling words all week, seems to know them at home all week, and then gets them wrong on her spelling tests.
-Her teachers have been very concerned.
-She has trouble with coversation. She seems to have trouble with word retrieval when trying to tell a story. She seems to forget even the easiest words.
-She is very bossy. Everything has to be her idea, or done her way.
-? Social problems: She initially seems to interact well with children, but after playing with her a short time, they no longer want to play with her. She gets too bossy, and does not read their social cues very well. She has been invited over a few friends houses for playdates, but they never seem to invite her back for a 2nd playdate.
-Frequent outbursts: These are usually triggered by something she perceives as unfair. (Ex. Her sisters getting a longer turn on the computer, or getting a bigger size cookie)
-Outbursts can be scary: It's as if she is not even my child. She gets this evil look in her eyes. She gets so mean. She tells me that I'm the worst mother in the world. That life is so horrible. She says that she wishes she does not have parents. These things are usually triggered by us saying no to something that she wants.
-She cries like a baby everytime someone says no to her. Or yells out with loud squeals. She does not seem to carry if she does this in front of a crowd of 100 people or even at school in front of the kids. She does not seem to understand that this behavior is not socially acceptable.
-She does not think about consequences before she does something. For example, yesterday, she took my 22 month old PDD son out of his crib and brought him up to her room in the attic. Then she left him up there by himself to come tell me that he was playing in her room. My son is not able to climb down stairs yet, and she left him in the attic by himself. She did not understand why that was not okay. She is not allowed to even take him out of his crib, or carry him without permission. Thank God he was okay, but he could of ate something he was not supposed to or fallen down the stairs.
(We had a long talk about this, after my heart stopped racing and I stopped hyperventilating)
-She is constantly trying to create things (mixing mom's nail polishes together to create a new color), (mixing drinks and foods together to make her own creation), and always making a huge mess while doing so. She never asks first, she always gets in trouble after, but she continues to do these things over and over.
-Very creative (her mind is always going with ideas). Sometimes you can see her mind going faster than her mouth can communicate. She loves to draw. She would do art projects all day long if I let her. (Don't get me wrong) We love her artwork, but sometimes I feel like her obsession with it is a little much.
-Very silly and hyper. Gets so silly and hyper that she seems to not hear us when we talk to her (although her hearing is fine).
-Attention is always off. Needs to be given instructions numerous times before she does things right. Needs short simple instructions and even then does not do what she set out to do.
-On a positive note. She is so sweet and so caring about others. When she is not having a meltdown or outburst, she is a very caring little girl. Always trying to please others, help out, doing things to make others happy. It is strange how she can change this with a switch (one second she is my sweet little girl, and the next she can be acting like a monster).

So, am I overreacting with my concerns? Am I just worried because I already have two children on the spectrum, or is there something really wrong here? Does this sound like Aspergers, ADHD, PDD-NOS, or Bipolar? Some of my son's therapist have witnessed her behavior and they too have mentioned their concerns about her. Most of the time I find her harder to handle then my other two spectrum kids. Any input you have is much appreciated.

Thanks,
Steph

 
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Old 07-25-2006, 07:41 AM   #2
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Re: Could it be Aspergers?

I'd say that her being bipolar is almost 100% out. Full-fledged bipolar disorder in children is very rare, and those children with it often are heavily-laden with "bipolar genes" from their family tree. Bipolar disorder is one of the most genetic psychiatric illnesses out there. She has too many other symptoms of an ASD for her mood swings to be that, I think, and you have a lot of autistic genes in your family. As for whether it's Asperger's, PDD-NOS, ADHD, or even high-functioning autism (HFA), that part is extremely hard to say. The symptoms overlap so much. I'm going to say that it probably isn't Asperger's, but I'm one of those believers that Aspies are precocious in their use of language, and besides drawing, I didn't see any real evidence of obsessive fixations. The "special interests" defines Asperger's to me. Many people in the medical field have differing opinions on what Asperger's is and what high-functioning autism is, or if the two are different or the same, etc. If I were to guess, I wouldn't say ADHD. She has symptoms, but there's too much other ASD in your family, and she has the social issues, but people are now starting to call ADHD (and OCD) a form of autistic spectrum disorder, so that opinion may change in the near future, too. I'm no expert in this department, and I feel your pain because I find the diagnostic process for ASD's extremely confusing and shaky. The reason why I think it is some form of an ASD is because I see some symptoms of myself (I'm an Aspie) in your description, symptoms that I've never heard anyone else ever describe. The main one is mixing things together and making a big mess. My mom calls this "slopping." I've done this ever since I can remember, and my mom still yells at me out at dinner when I begin to scrape some dip that we don't use and put it into my bowl, or when I begin to cut up celery we didn't eat. I used to make "concotions" out of shampoo and bubble bath and let it set out. I think I like it so much because it's sort of like chemistry, one of my intenese interests. Like your daughter, I keep getting yelled at over-and-over again, but I keep doing it. For me, I also think it deals with some unknown fascination with certain types of ingredients, namely raw eggs and honey. I like the way they slide around, and I like to watch it and play with it. I jump at the chance to crack eggs. My mind has always gone faster than my mouth or hand, so this is where a misdiagnosis of bipolar disorder can come in because of the seemingly "racing" thoughts and the fast-paced speech. I took a class last semester totally based on public speaking, and I did well in it, but the first speech, my professor told me that very same thing: I have too many ideas, and I talk fast to try and express them all. I get very silly, too. Often times (less now that I started Lamictal), I'll go from lashing out in an outburst to being giddy. When I'm in my "giddy" stage, anything makes me laugh, usually my fixations, but some part of a song or a certain noise or something does, too. I'm glad to see, though, that your daughter wasn't passed over for having Asperger's because she's a sweet, caring person. Not having empathy for others is a criterion for Asperger's that is greatly misunderstood, if you ask me. I think it's more that we don't show empathy in the typical situations, or even in situations that aren't considered important to us, but we can be caring. If someone genuinely has a problem, I feel for them. I just don't sympathize with whining people who have "boyfriend trouble" or something that I don't consider a big deal. To me, sympathy is granted for illness, death, or some other misfortune, like a natural disaster or abuse or losing a job, not typical "teenage" situations. Good luck, God bless, and if you have any questions, feel free to ask!
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"Not everything that steps out of line, and thus 'abnormal,' must necessarily be 'inferior.'"
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Old 07-25-2006, 08:45 AM   #3
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Re: Could it be Aspergers?

Thanks for your reply. I love hearing from someone who is actually on the spectrum. You help me to understand how my children must be feeling. Another thing I was wondering is if you know anything about skin picking. My 7 year old also picks her scabs until they bleed. She looks like she has the chicken pox or something because she cannot stop picking her skin. Is this some sort of stimming behavior? Was this something that you did as a kid? And any ideas on how to make her stop? I'm worried that she may start getting infections if she keeps this up.

-Steph

 
Old 07-25-2006, 11:13 AM   #4
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Re: Could it be Aspergers?

Yes, I'm a compulsive skin picker, too. I attribute mine more to my OCD, though, rather than my Asperger's. I want my skin to feel "smooth" and "perfect," and I will pick to no ends to achieve that. I picked at my scalp for three years, just until this past April or so when it finally healed. I also pick at my cuticles and the skin around my toes. Unfortunately, I don't know how to stop. My CBT therapist told that compulsive skin picking is very hard to treat.
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"Not everything that steps out of line, and thus 'abnormal,' must necessarily be 'inferior.'"
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Old 07-25-2006, 01:43 PM   #5
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Re: Could it be Aspergers?

Some of what you describe sounds like "spectrum" type stuff. LIke the communication difficulty with a full vocab., the difficult behaviors, and the social concerns.
A lot of times Asperger girls are not properly diagnosed because it's much more common in boys.
Other things like the scab picking.... well this could just be where she's at with being a kid right now. A lot of Kids do that.

It's good that you are open to the possibility and atleast you have an understanding of why she may act out the way she does. It doesn't make it easier, but it may make you an expert at this !!! Good Luck and hang in there.

 
Old 07-25-2006, 07:32 PM   #6
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Re: Could it be Aspergers?

Gatsby,

I know a lot about laughing at silly things. I will think about favorite subjects, funny things my cats do, or anything that makes me happy, and laugh.

 
Old 07-25-2006, 09:10 PM   #7
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Re: Could it be Aspergers?

jeffreys mom is right that Aspie girls are often overlooked. It's been proposed that their disorder follows a different path than boys, and that they "fall through the cracks" because they tend not to be boisterous and interruptive in the classroom setting and are usually better at hiding their deficits and problems to the outside world. I'm one of them. I'm the "teacher's pet" at school, but I'm very different at home where I let my outbursts and pent-up frustration run freely. In Tony Atwood's Asperger Syndrome, which I just read, he described how many girls describe having a "mask-like expression" that they use at school: they also smile and seem friendly to people, but nobody can see that, underneath the surface, they're overboiling with anxiety and frustration. Also me. I think this is the main reason it took me so long to get diagnosed with actual anxiety because I hide it very well. Even my PCP admitted that, if I didn't tell him I was having a panic attack, he'd never know. That's why nobody believes me when I tell them I have OCD, let alone Asperger's, also because I have an atypical case of both. 9CatMom- I know! I do the same thing! Thinking about/hearing other people mention certain things makes it happen more often. Thinking about my geeky chemistry professor always makes me smile- I am as I write this. A Beautiful Mind sets it off a lot, too, and so does hearing someone say that they have OCD and/or Asperger's, even any other mental illness, for that matter. Whenever I hear that, I want to talk to the person. It's really the only thing besides hearing someone mention one of my fixations that will make me spontaneously approach someone I don't know and talk to them.
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"Not everything that steps out of line, and thus 'abnormal,' must necessarily be 'inferior.'"
-Hans Asperger

 
Old 07-26-2006, 07:13 AM   #8
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Re: Could it be Aspergers?

Gatsby,

Your post is really fascinating. I consider my main special interest to be gathering knowledge about any subject that catches my fancy. Currently, it is the life of Roger Bannister. He is an example of someone who went through a difficult growing up process and came out on top.

I do believe that symptoms of AS are often overlooked in girls, because it is more acceptable for us to be bookworms, rather than athletes. I was not exactly the "teacher's pet," but teachers did, for the most part, respect my pursuit of academics. The teachers respected me, but I was bullied terribly by other students. I did have some friends, but I was too stupid to realize it, based on some of the things that were happening. My focus was on my studies and avoiding certain people at school.


My favorite movie is Four Minutes, the story of Roger Bannister. He does appear to have some distinct AS traits, mainly positive ones. He was very smart, had a good memory, and was interested in learning about everything.

Roger Bannister wrote a book about education I would like to read. His biography is fascinating. Knowing he went through a lot of the same things I did gives me hope that I will overcome some of the more burdensome aspects of AS, such as shyness and anxiety, and be able to concentrate on the positive.

 
Old 07-26-2006, 07:58 AM   #9
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Re: Could it be Aspergers?

Actually, Roger Bannister is your special interest, not finding information- that is a key criteria of all Aspies. I find it funny that the reason you're into Bannister is sort of the reason I'm into A Beautiful Mind: you can see a lot of yourself in it, and it gives you hope. For me, watching the socially awkward, geeky Nash at the beginning of the movie, struggling with his different learning style, find Alicia gives me hope that I will one day find a guy who loves me for me, and who'll respect my eccentricities. My favorite part of the movie is their first date where they bond over their "nerdiness." I love this quote, because I imagine that this will be what my relationship with my "soulmate" will be like:
Alicia: *looks up at the stars* I once tried to count them all. I actually got to 4348...
Nash: You are exceptionally odd.
Alicia: I'll bet you're very popular with all the girls...
Nash: A pair of odd ducks, then...
I just know that I'm going to end up with a geeky guy who is an Aspie, or at least has strong, prevalent Aspie traits. It's just hard sometimes because I don't do well with romantic relationships, which is common, but I'm the only 19-year-old I know who has never been kissed or even been on a date before. Anyway, the other reason I love the movie is because it exemplifies my biggest goal: to overcome the parts of your mental illness that inhibit your learning to make the parts of it that give you your brilliancy shine. I really like the dichotomy of this that they show while Nash is in graduate school, and then when he can't do his work because of the anti-psychotics. It's a lot like OCD because he has to learn to ignore the delusions (in my case, obsessions), lest they'll come back to haunt him even more.
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"Not everything that steps out of line, and thus 'abnormal,' must necessarily be 'inferior.'"
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Old 07-26-2006, 07:26 PM   #10
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Re: Could it be Aspergers?

Gatsby,

Roger Bannister mentioned something similar when he met his future wife, Moyra Jacobsson, a Swedish artist. He said that she supported his interests over the 50+ years they have been married.

In the movie, Four Minutes, Moyra (Amy Rutherford) says to Roger (Jamie McLaughlin), "You're an odd mix Roger. Terribly, absolutely English, with that maddening quality of American independence. I suppose most people don't know what in the world to do with you." As history shows, Moyra knew exactly what to do with Bannister: she married him for the man he was. I loved that line. People perceived Bannister as "odd," simply because he charted his own course and didn't pay attention to what others said about him.

 
Old 07-26-2006, 09:28 PM   #11
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Re: Could it be Aspergers?

I think she sounds just like my 10yo daughter!!!

She has dyslexia, processing disorders, anxiety and depression. She has a very hard time with word retrieval. She will know things at home and when it can down to testing or knowing it at school---she couldn't do it! (ANXIETY).
She throws HUGE fits. And she's TEN!!!!

My 6yo son is bipolar and ASD. Your dd doesn't really sound like bipolar to me. And for being genetic---it doesn't always HAVE to be. We have no one in the immediate family who is bipolar and no one who is ASD.

But,---those disorders are ALL related!! what we do have in our immed family is:
DH--depression, ADD
Me--situational depression and slight anxiety---in which I NEVER had before having a special needs child!!
11y girl---panic attacks.
10y girl--dyslexia, processing probs, anxiety and depression
6y boy--ASD, Bipolar, Anxiety (general, OCD), Expressive language disorder.
4y girl--nothing---so far!!

My family has anxiety and slight OCD.
Dh's family has LOTS!!!-------severe OCD, depression, anxiety, severe ADHD, learning disabilities, a cousin and uncle with bipolar, gambling, alcoholism, suicide.

Really----bipolar and ASD and ADHD all effect the same frontal lobe part of the brain.

My first thought when reading your post was anxiety and it reminded me of my 10 y girl.

Last edited by Holly_WA; 07-26-2006 at 09:29 PM.

 
Old 07-27-2006, 11:38 AM   #12
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Re: Could it be Aspergers?

Holly,

Thank you for your input. Sometimes I wonder if she has dyslexia. I asked her teachers (as she frequently had number and letter reversals), and the teacher said that is common at this age. The neuropsychologist did mention that she noticed some anxiety with her. Our next appointment with her is August 8th. I'm hoping she has some answers for us then. Did you find anything that helped your daughter overcome any of these problems?

It sounds like you have your hands full too. Sometimes I wonder, if I knew then, what I know now, would I have had so many kids? Don't get me wrong, I love each of them so much, but I worry that life will be tough for them. I hope that my husband and I are capable of helping them through this tough time.

-Steph

 
Old 07-27-2006, 04:15 PM   #13
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Re: Could it be Aspergers?

Steph--
I totally feel that way!!! Life would be so different with only 1 or 2 children.

The things with my 10y just started about 3rd grade. We also thought ADD. She did a Concerta med trial for 1 month and it did nothing but give her mood swings and unable to sleep.
We just started seeing a therapist a few months ago. Today was our appt with him and he is very glad that I made an appt with my son's psychiatrist for her (not until Aug) because he thought she needed meds to help.

Her anxiety is pretty bad. Procrasinates going to bed---worrying about whats going to happen the next day. Her bedtime starts about 9pm and doesn't get to sleep until 11pm. She nearly has panic attacks thinking about the next day. She has some OCD stuff. Has to touch certain things a specific number of times. Right now---its the number 4. Or she has to touch an object with BOTH hands/fingers to make it "equal". Not touching at the same time--but one after the other. Like--if she touches me---she has to touch me again using the other hand--she always says its to make it "equal".

I really hope the pdoc will put her on meds. I think it will help alot--if they work. My son was first dx with anxiety at 4yo and put on prozac. He went manic. So it scares me that she will have a bad reaction to it also. But then---I guess we will know.

I know she's not ASD at all. Good social skills. Loves her friends. But the other parts of ASD she may have---anxiety--ocd rituals (no repetitive behaviors), sensory issues. Like I said before--all of these disorders are related.

So your daughter may be just PDD-NOS---you seem to have a huge genetic factor in there. Or maybe its just a "part" of the disorder and is just anxiety and sensory issues.

Holly

 
Old 07-28-2006, 06:04 AM   #14
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Re: Could it be Aspergers?

It is crazy how connected all these disorders are. Sometimes I wish there was an exact science for diagnosing ASD's, bipolar, etc. It seems like often times it is just a guessing game. We are actually considering taking part in a research study for families who have more than one child with an ASD. Sometimes I think either my husband or I must be on the spectrum, how else would we have so many children who are. My husband is a little bit of a computer geek, and a little antisocial, but probably not enough so to be on the spectrum. I've had some issues with anxiety in the past, and sometimes I'm in my own little world, but socially there are no problems. Hopefully someday the medical community will figure out this puzzle. Anyway, thanks for your posts.

-Steph

 
Old 07-28-2006, 06:52 AM   #15
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Re: Could it be Aspergers?

There is a book, "Kids in the Syndrome Mix," addressing the connection between various conditions, such as ASDs, Tourette's, dyslexia, and a number of other learning disabities. I read the part on Asperger's and a lot of it rings true for me.

I suspect I am on the spectrum because of my unusual interests, my shyness, and a mild seizure disorder. I worry that if I do find someone to marry me, that I will have children with difficulties. If so, I will do everything I can for him or her.

 
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