Parents of Kids with Autism Worry About Stigma

Parents of children who have autism, or Asperger’s Syndrome, are concerned. They worry that their child will now be stigmatized because of all the talk that indicated that the shooter in Connecticut had Asperger’s Syndrome. Autism Speaks has some helpful advice. Let me briefly summarize the background of this topic, for those who are unaware. First, there was the tragedy in Connecticut that happened when Adam Lanza went into an elementary school and started shooting. Following the tragedy, there were many responses. The President made a public speech. Several bloggers (myself included) wrote about some aspect of what happened. People … Continue reading

Clarification on Asperger’s Syndrome and Violence

By now, we have all heard the tragic news about the shooting that took place in an elementary school in Connecticut. Some say the shooter had Asperger’s Syndrome. Experts point out that there is no evidence of a link between violence like what happened and the existence of Asperger’s syndrome. A tragedy has occurred in Newtown, Connecticut. I do not have the words to express the grief and pain that the parents of the children who were killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut must be feeling. Lacking that, I will instead quote part of what President Obama … Continue reading

James and the Emerald Night Train

An eleven year old boy who has autism saved up his money for years in order to buy a very special LEGO set. Imagine the disappointment he must have felt when, after reaching the amount he needed, it turned out that he still could not afford to buy it! Fortunately, this story is one that ended in a very happy way. You’ve heard of LEGO. It is the company that makes little colored plastic bricks of different shapes that can be easily snapped together. The bricks can be popped back apart later on, and used to build something else. LEGOs … Continue reading

APA Board Approves Changes to DSM-5

The American Psychiatric Association (APA) has officially finalized the changes to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM). Will these changes affect your child? If so, in what ways? Here’s a brief review of some of the changes that have been made. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Medical Disorders, or DSM, is the book that psychiatrists use to determine a diagnosis of a specific mental disorder. Every so often, it becomes necessary to review the contents of the current DSM, and to determine if anything needs to be revised, updated, or removed. There have been a total … Continue reading

Being Your Child’s Social Engineer

Children with special needs could almost always use a little help in the friendship department. They might have difficulty with communication or conversation, feel afraid of how other children will accept them, or just plain don’t know how to relate. As a parent, you can greatly enhance your child’s life by offering a bit of social engineering. “I like ants. Do you?” Children on the autism spectrum, especially those with Aspergers Syndrome, often have particularly narrow interests which are hard to draw other children into. I recently read about a child with Aspergers who had a fascination with ants. He … Continue reading

Hyperlexia: Autism with a Twist?

I’m still trying to decide whether I think that “hyperlexia” is really just autism with a remarkable (savant) reading ability, or whether it is truly a stand-alone condition, as some people insist. You be the judge. What is hyperlexia? Hyperlexics are said to almost always be boys, and their ability to spell, read, and pronounce words is markedly advanced for their age. Usually these kids have easily mastered letters and numbers by the age of two, and by three can read many words. They seem to have a far greater capacity for reading than for spontaneous speech. They may eventually … Continue reading

8 Difficult Autistic Behaviors (And Why They Happen)

Children with autism have numerous challenging behaviors for parents to deal with. Sometimes the behaviors seem to make no sense whatsoever. The child might seem unreachable, temperamental, and impossible to deal with. However, when we take a look at the underlying deficits that contribute to the problems, we can gain a better understanding. And with a little understanding, we are better equipped to find ways to help. The following is a list of eight typical behaviors of an autistic child, and their likely causes. This is not an exhaustive list of all autism symptoms, and some autistic children will only … Continue reading

“Mommy, Tell Me a Social Story!”

Children on the autism spectrum, like those with Asperger’s syndrome, have difficulty with social cognition. Concepts like making and keeping friends, being polite, considering people’s feelings, etc., can be totally mystifying. Most of us are able to navigate through friendly interactions quite easily, even though conversation is random and unpredictable. But randomness and spontaneity are overwhelming to kids on the spectrum. In order for these special children to have any hope of achieving meaningful relationships and functioning well in society, we need to teach them basic social behavior in a way they can understand. One technique which can be very … Continue reading

Why Antidepressants Could Help Your Teen on the Autism Spectrum

Imagine the moments in your life when you were the most nervous. Maybe you faced auditioning for a big part, or asking your spouse to marry you, or owning up to doing something wrong. Remember the gnawing feeling of fear? Remember the physical tension and jitteriness you felt? Well, it’s possible that your son or daughter on the autism spectrum may be in a similar state of anxiety a majority of the time. Many autistic children, especially upon reaching puberty, are ruled by fear. Temple Grandin, Ph.D., an autistic woman who is an author, professor, and public speaker, has taught … Continue reading

When Your Child on the Autism Spectrum has RAGE

When I was a young mother with a newly-diagnosed autistic toddler, a woman came to my home to talk to me about her adult son with autism. What is interesting is that I do not remember who put us in touch or even her name. But she came for a visit, I suppose because I was just starting the journey, and she was a street-wise traveler. She shared some very frightening stories about her son. Our visit was not very helpful; it actually terrified me. Horror Stories She told me that once her son reached puberty, his episodes of rage … Continue reading