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Autism and SID


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#1 S.H. Marr

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Posted 18 December 2014 - 01:17 PM

So I'm writing a new MC, and...well, he's not actually autistic, but he does share some traits with ASD, specifically SID and the kind of expression-blindness that comes with forms like Asperger's (I would feel weird actually saying he has this disorder, because these symptoms are caused by the fact that he has ESP, and also because he learns how to manage them in way that would feel "IF YOU TRY HARD ENOUGH, YOU TOO CAN OVERCOME ALLL ASD!" Which is bad.).

 

But regardless of whether he has it or not, I would like to at least be accurate in coping mechanisms of overstimulation and the experience of it happening. I do have a brother with Asperger's, but he does not seem interested in sharing.

 

I have no idea where to even start looking things up about this. I have heard (know?) that Autism Speaks is a terrible place to learn about autism, so I don't want to look there. Does anyone have any other suggestions?



#2 LucidDreamer

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Posted 18 December 2014 - 03:15 PM

This is a good program -- website has some great info.  (We've worked with TEACCH because my son has high-functioning autism).

 

http://teacch.com/



#3 Thrash

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Posted 22 December 2014 - 01:18 PM

I work at a school that specializes in students who can't function in traditional school environments for any number of reasons, the most popular being the autism spectrum, dyslexia, and fairly extreme social anxiety disorders. My main question would be is he hypersensitive or hyposensitive?

 

All of our students have different coping mechanism that seem very personal, really, but if I had to identify a pattern it would that hypersensitives need to learn to anticipate high-input times and situations. For instance, Thomas, one of my students, comes in the back door of the school so he's not as bombarded with the bustle of the students at the front desk the second he walks in. He still has to go check in, but it's much easier for him to brace himself and keep his cool and focus if he can see the gaggle of kids from down the hall and map out his route to the desk to avoid being touched. Hypersensitives are those that seem like extreme ADHD cases. In class, they hear everything you say, but it's like the person speaking to them is always whispering something very uninteresting. They are always seeking out more rather than focusing in on what is being said.  With these students, our strategy is constant interaction--Asking a series of questions, for example, rather than saying a series of instructions. 

 

Now, I want to stress that I'm not an expert or formally trained or educated about these disorders--I just work with young people all along the spectrum in a very practical environment. Most of our students have therapists who work with them and occasionally they give us instructions on some dos/don'ts, but  our priority is finding practical ways to get through the school day and learn something.  One thing we do fairly often is teach students a sentence to say when having to deal with strangers or people who don't know about their disorder--it's different for each students. For instance, Thomas is taught to say "Pardon me, but I get very uncomfortable when touched."  And I do mean those exact words. He's been with us five years and it took two for that mantra to really stick and that's what he says now, perhaps 10-20 times a day. It allows him to say something without potentially escalating into a panic attack or shouting match.  

 

Hope this gives you some places to start. 



#4 S.H. Marr

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Posted 22 December 2014 - 01:52 PM

Hope this gives you some places to start. 

It does! Thank you a lot.

 

(And I think he would probably be considered hypersensitive to his surroundings)



#5 Thrash

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Posted 22 December 2014 - 11:35 PM

What his age? Is he an adult or a teenager?



#6 S.H. Marr

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Posted 23 December 2014 - 12:40 AM

What his age? Is he an adult or a teenager?

He's 17.



#7 Thrash

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Posted 23 December 2014 - 11:03 AM

Okay, that's a pretty crucial age.  Thomas, the boy I described, isn't really a boy, he's 19.  Byers, another student we work with, is 21. They've got themselves fairly under control at this point, but 17 was a hard age for both of them.  Unsurprisingly, because of girls. By 17, they realize that their automatic behavior isn't what is expected of them, but they haven't mastered sorting out what's expected before they do something. Every 17 year old boy I know on the spectrum has only one thing in common, because they are all incredibly different, is that they become frozen in their place mortified at least 10 times a day if there's girls around, whether they've actually done something wrong or not.

 

Also, another thought.  Hypersensitives that older don't react to large stimuli they way you'd think. When the fire alarm goes off in school, for example, Thomas and Byers don't even look up. They've trained themselves not to react to things, so even when it's natural to react to something, they often won't until they see others reacting.



#8 mwsinclair

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Posted 23 December 2014 - 11:24 AM

As the father of a child with autism, I'm finding this fascinating...



#9 Zaarin

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Posted 29 December 2014 - 07:40 PM

I have Aspergers, and I'm willing to answer questions if you like--though being Aspergers I can also tell you that putting my experiences into words is difficult and that everyone experiences Aspergers and autism differently.

 

Regarding coping with overstimulation, I tend to withdraw into myself. My mom calls it "shutting down," which isn't an inaccurate description. I keep my head down, I don't speak--and become rather irritable if spoken to--and in general try my best to shut out the outside world. I also get very frustrated. On which note, I really don't handle stress well. Not constant stress, anyway. While I loved my classes, worrying about my grades (despite being an A student) and deadlines made college very stressful for me; that's why I didn't really get back to writing until I graduated.

 

One thing worth mentioning, though, is that it's not always easy to tell who is Aspergers. Most of my friends don't know I'm Aspergers unless I've told them. I'm a bit awkward in conversation, yes, but I can talk quite fluently if it's a subject I'm interested in (just forget trying to engage me in small talk). By the time one has reached the upper teens, you learn how to act normal, at least publicly. Or at least I did.

 

What Thrash said about girls is somewhat context sensitive. To be honest, most of my friends have always been girls. True, the first time I asked a girl out I was absolutely scared to death (though I think that goes for most guys) and I did it by e-mail because I knew if I tried asking her in person it would come out more like asdklgjfkljgksdjg, but I've always been more comfortable with female friends than male friends. I've never related well to other guys, even though my best friend since middle school is a guy.

 

What Thrash said about preparing oneself for stimuli is absolutely true, and having down time in between is absolutely critical. If I'm around too many people for too long too often, I freak out.

 

Routine is important, too. Even normal situations can become very frustrating if it's different from my routine. Changing plans or routines is in a similar vein. Which isn't to say I can't do something spontaneous, but I prefer to plan in advance when possible. It just makes me more comfortable.

 

Aspergers can feel very isolating, especially since all my friends are NT (neurotypical--not on the autism spectrum). Even when I'm with my friends or family, I still feel very alone. But I feel much less alone with my cat. I've heard that's not uncommon.

 

Please don't make the mistake of thinking Aspies can't feel. I feel very strongly and very deeply. But I do have difficulty expressing those feelings. But ironically I'm also very affectionate. *shrug*

 

I'm not sure if this is universal, but I consider Aspergers an important part of my identity. I wouldn't want a "cure" if there was one; it's part of who I am. There are difficulties, sure, but it also gives me an "outsider's perspective" on life that I find invaluable as a writer--plus that "Aspergers memory" is pretty handy, too. This hasn't always been the case; there were times, especially as a teenager, where I felt it would have been nice to be "normal." My mom didn't want me stigmatized so she encouraged me to keep quiet about my Aspergers, but as an adult I've found it something to be proud of. Not that I go around announcing it to everyone, but if it comes up (like here) I certainly don't mind talking about it.

 

If you have any more specific questions I'd be happy to answer about my experience--like I said, everyone experiences Aspergers and autism differently, but I can at least tell you how I experience it. Only thing I couldn't really answer is how Aspies relate to each other, since, as I said, all my friends are NT.



#10 aperson

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Posted 06 January 2015 - 11:59 AM

From a parents point of view:

 

Our daughter is 36 and has Aspergers. Her IQ is off the charts.   She's  well read and speaks on any subject with confidence. Yet if one disagrees with her thoughts she has no interest in continuing the discussion. When she was younger she dealt with this through shouting/crying episodes. Now she'll most likely stop the conversation and walk away. At least this is how she deals with family members.

 

Socially she connects better through the 'screen' better than she does face to face or in groups.  She is not inapt and does have a few face-to-face friends. She has taught ESL in 8 different countries. Yet in the US she works in gas stations and factories. She tells us she doesn't have skills.  She graduated a double major with a 4.0. Our reasoning out this thought process does not resonate with hers. If she is happy we have learned to leave that alone. At times she has suffered through a tremendous amount of depression, mostly, I believe from the socializing interactions.

 

She is unorganized/messy does not see this as a problem. Example: She moved to another state and into an apartment over a year ago. When I visited the suitcases were still laying in the middle of the floor. I ignored them.  Why should I care.  She was happy with her apartment and that is important to her well being.

 

She also has two cats.  ~karen



#11 Zaarin

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Posted 06 January 2015 - 12:34 PM

From a parents point of view:

 

Our daughter is 36 and has Aspergers. Her IQ is off the charts.   She's  well read and speaks on any subject with confidence. Yet if one disagrees with her thoughts she has no interest in continuing the discussion. When she was younger she dealt with this through shouting/crying episodes. Now she'll most likely stop the conversation and walk away. At least this is how she deals with family members.

 

<snip>

I find this interesting because I'm just the opposite: I'm always up for a debate--perhaps even too ready--and have been known to play devil's advocate just to get an interesting discussion going. I do tend to walk away from a debate if the other person can't argue their point effectively or starts resorting to circular reasoning, logical fallacies, or ad hominem attacks. But none of that frustrates me like someone who can't stick up for their opinions. In high school I knew a guy who really wanted to be my friend, but I couldn't stand him because if I ever contradicted his opinion he'd immediately change it. That drives me up the wall. >_<



#12 AQCrew

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Posted 06 January 2015 - 12:38 PM

This is turning out to be one of our favorite threads. Thanks all for sharing such personal anecdotes.



#13 mwsinclair

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Posted 06 January 2015 - 01:20 PM

aperson, I'm very much intrigued by your description of your daughter. My daughter with autism is six and is largely non-verbal (caveat: she actually has quite an extensive vocabulary built by an almost constant diet of favorite children's videos -- in a variety of languages -- and the general vocabulary of the household, where I have never been shy about using accurate terms regardless of how many syllables they might have). I can imagine her eventually responding in a way similar to your daughter. But as has been said above, her experiences are her experiences, not a template for all people with autism.



#14 aperson

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Posted 06 January 2015 - 02:37 PM

mwsinclair:
From what I understand there are differences in regard to autism.  Each child has different experiences. You are correct there are no templates for children, or anyone for that matter. That is why our world is so very unique.

 

I am certainly not an expert. Autism used to be described for both.  Then they gave one of the  spectrum's -asperger's -their own category (if that is the correct word to use). Asperger's has different levels too.  Our daughter never had verbal issues.  She talked early, read at two and was dependent on her family for social interactions through her mid-teens.  Now in hind-sight I can see her 'differences' though I basically see them as to who she is. As I stated before, she operates differently in social settings than others. She has had long bouts of depression. She will then come home for a spell. She isolates herself until she can resurface.  It's hard for a parent and imagine most hard for her.  I believe she see it as defeat, and at the same time a refuge.

 

Some autism children have sensory issues.  My daughter can't touch anything fuzzy, such as velvet or fleece.  She can tell you the exact spices is in any food she tastes. She is my go-to person for restaurant food recipes.  A long time ago we were given 20 cans of peas.  Our kids didn't like peas.  I smashed up one can and it in meatloaf.  She said it tasted funny while her brothers and Dad gobbled it down like their last meal. The sensory issues seem to define some characteristics of  autistic children.

 

Zaarin : "I do tend to walk away from a debate if the other person can't argue their point effectively".  Maybe that's why our daughter walks away.  She doesn't think we argue effectively. (grin)



#15 mwsinclair

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Posted 06 January 2015 - 03:19 PM

My daughter appears to have eating-sensory issues. She has refused to eat any meat for at least three years (probably closer to four) and getting her to consume any protein has been a problem. Basically, it's the protein in milk and cheese, the low levels of protein in pasta, and the occasional French toast (which we make with eggs). Otherwise, no protein.



#16 Zaarin

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Posted 06 January 2015 - 04:30 PM

mwsinclair:

Some autism children have sensory issues.  My daughter can't touch anything fuzzy, such as velvet or fleece.  She can tell you the exact spices is in any food she tastes. She is my go-to person for restaurant food recipes.  A long time ago we were given 20 cans of peas.  Our kids didn't like peas.  I smashed up one can and it in meatloaf.  She said it tasted funny while her brothers and Dad gobbled it down like their last meal. The sensory issues seem to define some characteristics of  autistic children.

I have that as well, though my issues are rough things: sandpaper, sand, rough wool--can't handle them. And tags. I swear tags were invented to torment me. ;)



#17 aperson

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Posted 06 January 2015 - 07:46 PM

mwsinclair: try peanut butter and jelly, Greek yogurt can top just about any food, hummus, bean (kidney) burritos, asparagus, spinach (cook fresh with a bit of garlic)- those are just off the top of my head.  There are many sites for vegan recipes that will give you ideas on adding protein to a diet. Our kids always liked spinach. Your daughter may not.

 

Our daughter gave up meat, dairy and fish for about a two year period. I don't think she did it because of aspergers. I think she just thought it would be cool. She came with me to  Seattle while I was I on contract for a Compaq/Microsoft project.   For Thanksgiving that year I mixed a block of tofu, spices and bread crumbs and carved it into a turkey then baked it with soy sauce. Don't do that. It will not taste like turkey.

 

Zarrin: Do you have depression issues?  Right now we are our are daughters shelter when that happens, but we won't be around forever.  That I worry about.



#18 Jemi

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Posted 06 January 2015 - 08:12 PM

This is fascinating!

In our area, almost all kids on the autism spectrum are integrated into regular classrooms, so, from a teacher's perspective...

 

- as said many times, every single kid (both on and off the spectrum) is different

- sometimes regular classroom stimulus can cause some kids to retreat into themselves, and others to become very, very active

- predictability helps a lot of kids (schedules, routines, foods etc.). Knowing what's going to happen in advance really helps. 10 minute, 5 minute, 2 minute warnings are good as well

- having a pre-planned routine to handle stress helps most kids a lot -- square breathing, focus on a picture, visualizing outcomes & success, having a list posted with calm down steps on the desk, thera-putty (kinda like playdoh) with googly eyes hidden inside is a favourite in my school, 

- there's a difference between known stressors (recess, certain classes or teachers, an annoying classmate...) and surprise stressors (supply teachers, unexpected intrusion of their personal space, fire alarms) and having 2 different routines to handle these helps some kids. other kids keep same routine for both

- sensory issues are very common - a lot of kids don't like socks, tags, seams, socks, etc. One little guy strips when frustrated  :tongue:

- one little girl can't eat certain foods until she uses a silver spoon to touch/activate each section of her tongue. after doing that, she's fine and can tolerate anything

- humour - especially sarcasm - can be very difficult for some kids (especially true of one little guy diagnosed with Asperger's in our school right now. He is very literal)

- friendships can be tough for some of these kids, easier for others. Making social stories and reading them daily really helps out some kids. (how to make friends, how to take turns, how to play at recess, how to avoid an argument, how to...). We have some kids who have little booklets in their desks and they check them out when they feel the need. For others, an adult will read them together with them when the kids come in or a few minutes before certain activities

 

Hope some of that helps you out!



#19 Thrash

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Posted 07 January 2015 - 12:25 PM

I ditto Jemi's comment about Humour--Thomas struggles a great deal with hyperbole or any exaggeration that he hears--which many of our other children do in spades. One day he accidentally bumped a small girl and she fell down. He was utterly convinced that because he was over 18 and she was a kid that he was going to jail for child abuse. For some reason, ever since he turned 18, he has a pronounced fear of accidentally breaking the law.



#20 mwsinclair

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Posted 07 January 2015 - 12:37 PM

Thanks for the suggestions, aperson. Alas, she's also allergic to peanuts. We've got her schools involved with food experimentation, too, but I'm always open to trying new things for her.






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