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Old 09-12-2006, 10:14 AM   #1
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How do you explain to a 9 year old that he has Asperger Syndrome?

Hi all,

I may be putting the cart before the horse but I like to be prepared. Our middle son (we have 3 boys) is 9 and we feel very sure that he will be diagnosed with Asperger. He is to go back for more testing in Oct. with a Neuropsychologist. On the first visit the doctor mentioned it could be Asperger but of course could not make an official diagnosis yet. After what we have read, we as parents are 99.9 % sure.

Sooooo, assuming we get a diagnosis in the next few months, how do you go about explaining it to the child? He already has anxiety about so many things and I don't want to give him a complex or have him go into depression. I think one thing that could be good or bad, is how when he is introduced to something (a subject) that he is unfamiliar with he will ask a million questions. But then he also obsesses on that subject for hours or days. I noticed there are a good many members that post who themselves have this and I would love to hear your opinion on how to tell him.

Just a little history on him, he is super intelligent, makes straight A's in school. He has difficulty with being in situations where there are alot of noises, especially if there are alot of people talking or doing different things at one time. He likes things calm and relaxed and prefers one on one conversation because when he speaks, it takes him a while to say what he has to say because it has to be precise and he is very detailed in what he has to say. When we're all at the dinner table and everyone is talking and interjecting things he gets frustrated because he can't do that, he has to go into a long dissertation on everything. When he starts thinking of something he goes on forever about it and sometimes I feel bad because I have to tell him I just can't discuss this anymore, I have answered all of his questions and he goes on and on. The doctor said that was because of the frontal lobe something or other that he can't shut things down or off. He prefers to be by himself or with adults, kids don't understand him so they usually pick on him or he gets frustrated with them. He's a very picky eater and he'll say things like, "I don't want to eat anything that swims in the ocean, or anything that flys." He likes junk food mostly. He used to throw up at about every meal when we'd try to make him eat what we were having. I finally gave up and just let him do without if he says he doesn't want to try it. When he gets excited about something he'll jump up and down and shake his hands like he's wringing water off of them and he squeels like a little girl. When he's told no about something or that we can't do what he's wanting right that minute, like go to the store to get something, he gets very frustrated and will follow me around saying "why can't we go now" and no answer I give him is good enough. He takes everything literally. But over all, he's a great kid, never causes trouble in school and obeys rules, seems to be a rulekeeper and wants others to abide by the rules. There's so many other little "peculiarities" that we now understand better after reading about Aspergers. Now I can relate to him in an entirely different manner and we all get along better knowing that there's a reason behind the things he does. One more thing, he picks at the tips of his fingers to the point of getting them all infected.

So anyway, sorry to be so long but thank you for reading and any input will be greatly appreciated.

Sincerely,

Neicee S

 
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Old 09-12-2006, 03:21 PM   #2
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Re: How do you explain to a 9 year old that he has Asperger Syndrome?

Their is a fantastic book called Freaks , Geeks and Aspergers Syndromme, written by a young boy here in the UK called Luke Jackson who has AS. I have a copy somewhere (I have a passion for neurodiverse issues) and it is awesome at explaining things.

My personal experience of AS isn't that much, my ex partner has AS, and is proof that AS doesn't have to hold you back in life, my ex is training to be a learning disability nurse, yes my ex lacks empathy skills due to his AS but is learning and it is awesome to see the progress.

I am around most days if you want to ask questions and I can try my best to answer them.

 
Old 09-12-2006, 04:00 PM   #3
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Re: How do you explain to a 9 year old that he has Asperger Syndrome?

Well, I'm 19, and I was diagnosed with Asperger's by my CBT therapist around February/March, and I just got it officially confirmed with my new Asperger's specialist this past Thursday who said that it was "extremely obvious" that I have the "typical expression of the syndrome in a girl." Naturally, since I was about 10 years older than your son when I was diagnosed, I have coped and reacted much differently to the diagnosis. I was very happy to be diagnosed with it because it explained a lot of things that my OCD couldn't (I have both). Now, I realize why I have random breakdowns- it's almost always because of overstimulation. I had one today, in fact, for that very reason... The diagnosis has helped me realize why I have trouble with certain learning styles, so this has helped eliminate some of my feelings of stupidity when I cannot understand something. Since I am intensely interested in neuropsychiatry (it's one of my obsessive fixations), this influenced my reaction differently, as well. It's really up to you, but I think I'd want to be told. It can serve to answer many possible problems in the future, questions about yourself that seem unanswerable. However, if you think he isn't mature enough yet, wait a few years. I think that by middle school, however, your son will need to know, what with the changing aspects of the students' behavior and the changes associated with middle school structure (many classes throughout the day, different learning style needed for work, etc.). Good luck, God bless, and if you have any questions, feel free to ask!
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Old 09-13-2006, 09:35 AM   #4
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Re: How do you explain to a 9 year old that he has Asperger Syndrome?

I read Freaks Geeks and AS as well. It was very good. I did let my son read it when i was done. He is 15 (almost ) though. The boy who wrote the book did say once he knew things just seemed to click for him

 
Old 09-13-2006, 10:02 AM   #5
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Re: How do you explain to a 9 year old that he has Asperger Syndrome?

I do a lot of youth work, and one activity that is helpful is to draw overlapping circles and in each write the main caracteristics (sp*) of a condition and then ask a young person to think about how those things effect them and for them to write in the rest of the circle adn then explain to them that the complete page explains by themselves what they have been diagnosed with.

Does that make sense? hard to explain in a post, especailly as I am dyslexic and not good at spelling!

 
Old 09-13-2006, 12:29 PM   #6
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Re: How do you explain to a 9 year old that he has Asperger Syndrome?

Hi Neicee,

Whatever dx your son receives, why not, during the time you have alone with the psychiatrist or psychologist, ask him/her to explain dx to your child in your presence, when it comes to that time? We've had good experience w/that method -- and view it as part of the pkg we pay for -- expert explanation of expert findings. Of course, it's possible to have a diagnostician who's an insensitive jerk, and blows it all. But one assumes that most of them are skilled at this.

My 16 yo has always been in denial about being on the spectrum, yet when a young psychiatry resident explained to him that only a few things, like social skills & emotions were "just a toe over the line" dividing spectrum from NT, our son was accepting -- in part because he himself identifies those 2 areas as problematic.

As children mature & problems become more subtle, more complex, it's really helpful to have them on the same page as parents & pros who are trying to help. Obviously a bright 9 yo is going to ask about testing or interviewing outcome, so you are smart to figure out ways to talk about this.

I've always thought it is impt to emphasize the gifts that come with being on the spectrum. Everybody has gifts & weaknesses. With Asperger's the set of plusses & minusses is a little more defined than for the average kid.

Best wishes.

 
Old 09-14-2006, 06:42 AM   #7
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Re: How do you explain to a 9 year old that he has Asperger Syndrome?

Thank you each one for your input, I will be considering and praying about this. I will try to get the book mentioned as well.

Blessings,

Neicee S

 
Old 09-14-2006, 07:00 AM   #8
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Re: How do you explain to a 9 year old that he has Asperger Syndrome?

I agree with all of you. I'm 41, with suspected Asperger's. I knew something was different about me early on. At nine, I would have wanted an explanation as to why I was so different. The why of things always interested me. Good luck to your son. He is obviously smart. I haven't read Luke Jackson's book, but it sounds fascinating.

 
Old 09-14-2006, 07:08 AM   #9
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Re: How do you explain to a 9 year old that he has Asperger Syndrome?

Lemmahow,

Are you talking about a Venn Diagram? It sounds like a good plan.

Don't worry about a typo here and there. You are very articulate and express yourself well. I have seen terrible writing on the Internet that was virtually incomprehensible. You express yourself very well.

 
Old 09-14-2006, 11:00 AM   #10
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Re: How do you explain to a 9 year old that he has Asperger Syndrome?

Our 7 year old son is an Aspie. We've tried to explain it the best way his mind can understand and I think he gets it to a point. His 3 year old brother is autistic with mild MR and so I think that helps our other children have compassion for each others differences. In fact, we were at church last sunday and there were some new people there with obvious disabilities. One lady would make very loud noises during the meeting, and our Aspie kept turning to me and saying, "Her brain is misfiring again!" He thought it was funny and I had to remind him that it is inappropriate to laugh at the person, even though he (with his mind) was laughing at the sound of the noises. Does that make sense? One thing to be careful of is sometimes our son will blame things on his Asperger's when, really, I know he knows the difference. (Like teasing his sister with a spider or something...) He'll say, "I can't help it mom--remember I have Asperger's!! (That little stinker!!)

 
Old 09-18-2006, 09:16 AM   #11
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Re: How do you explain to a 9 year old that he has Asperger Syndrome?

My son, Joe, is nine, and I explained it to him that it was like his mind had different software. Not necessarily the wrong software, or software not as good, but just different, that responds to different commands sometimes. I told him somethings might be hard because its like he's trying to open up a game, and its on a different system than he has.

 
Old 09-21-2006, 08:22 AM   #12
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Re: How do you explain to a 9 year old that he has Asperger Syndrome?

Sorry it has taken me a few days to reply my internet went down,. I can't remember the proper name for what I described, but it is a fabtastic way of explaining things to youngsters.
x

 
Old 10-02-2006, 11:12 PM   #13
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Re: How do you explain to a 9 year old that he has Asperger Syndrome?

I would suggest finding some role models for your son of successful people with Aspergers - there are plenty around. I kind of think that role models are perhaps more important for boys than girls - especially as they approach teen years. As someone else has said (and I went through it myself) an intelligent 9 year old is able to pick up anyway that there's something which makes him feel a bit 'different' to his peers - and it's far more reassuring and comforting to know what it actually is than to be always wondering. I myself used to think, especially as a teenager, that I had schizophrenia, and was wrongly diagnosed with schizophrenia several times before getting the right diagnosis. So I think it's wonderful that you've averted all that.

Everyone is different, and no one is perfect. Everyone has their own strengths and weaknesses. It's okay. Children with Aspergers are often gifted in certain areas and if they are encouraged in those directions, they can really succeed, and it helps build confidence - helpful in the teenage years. Your son has Aspergers - but he is NOT Aspergers. To me, that is a crucial difference in understanding the condition. It sounds to me that he has a very good chance of developing good coping skills which will enable him to deal with the condition as he matures. But a young child, no matter how intelligent, probably has different needs in explaining to them these matters - so I'm glad that it seems there are sources available to help parents in this areas.

You've probably already started discussing it all with your son, but probably the best advice I'd give to others is pick the right time, try to keep things calm and unthreatening as possible. Young kids with Autism/Aspergers can still be very sensitive to and pick up the feelings of their parents - their fears and concerns. So before you start discussing these things with the child, it is probably best to make sure that you yourself have worked on coming to terms with the diagnosis. Another point I would make is that sometimes kids with Autism or Aspergers can find the 'unknown' and anything which is medical a bit threatening - it's probably best to be open and honest, but be sure that they are not given too much at once. Anyway, all the best.

Last edited by smw73; 10-02-2006 at 11:16 PM.

 
Old 10-03-2006, 07:03 AM   #14
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Re: How do you explain to a 9 year old that he has Asperger Syndrome?

SMW73,

This is part of the reason Roger Bannister is such an inspiration to me. He is a very successful individual despite having traits of Asperger's. I think anyone who is interested in running or in medicine or famous individuals with differences should read his story. He was very intelligent, but felt like an outsider most of the time. He is an Englishman and I'm an American woman, but I think Roger Bannister talks about a very universal human feeling, the need to belong. One quote by Roger Bannister sums things up nicely: "I think it is a very universal human feeling, trying to find your place. The adolescent who is perfectly adapted to his/her environment, I've yet to meet."

 
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