Even if Autism Spectrum Disorder is more and more known around the world, it is still misunderstood. Thanks to the Autism Awareness day and the Autism Awareness month that help people learning about it and be aware that it exists and affects a lot of children and adults.
And by the way, the Autism awareness month is April!
It is not since long ago that Asperger’s syndrome became part of the Autism Spectrum Disorder. People who have Aspergers do not always like being called autistic themselves. It is kind of a sensitive subject. So I will continue making a distinction between Aspergers and autism, since Aspergers is considered as high functioning autism.
My daughter is aware she has Aspergers. She accepts it all the way. She says knowing about it helped her understanding herself and her own behavior in many situations. She always says it doesn’t matter to her since it doesn’t affect who she is as a person, it is just a characteristic among many others (eyes color, height, gender etc).
My daughter even explains it to her friends at school so that they can accept better when she says some things or have certain reactions. This way they do not think she is “weird”.
My daughter’s message
She wants me to tell you some specific things about Asperger’s syndrome, from an Aspergers point of view, to help you understand it better.
Some people with Aspergers do flapping or other particular gestures with their body or their hands. Others speak in what looks like a foreign accent. Others can’t look others in the eyes. My daughter has none of those characteristics. So people who are not used to Asperger’s syndrome do not see it at first when they look at her or talk to her.
Here are the first 5 things she wants you to know about Aspergers
Aspergers people do not taste food the same as non Aspergers (called NT, standing for neurotypical people). The texture is different, the smell is different and the taste seems different too.
So when they tell you mushrooms are the most disgusting veggies on Earth, it is hard to argue they are wrong.
In general, Aspergers are interested in subjects that not everybody else like that much. They know every little details of their subjects of interest. They also can talk about it for hours without realizing their peers or relatives are not that interested. Insects, dinosaures, the universe are amongst their favorites. My daughter often likes encyclopedias more than novels. It is more concrete and all about facts, statistics and data. Since social interactions may be hard for Aspergers, novels can be hard to interpret or understand for some.
My daughter is also gifted. So she is telling me it is easier for her to learn new stuff and she can learn this all by herself. She was two when watching Dora, she started speaking Spanish !!!! We were so impressed and did not understand at that time, how she could have succeed in learning a third language on her own. Being gifted is not necessarily related to Aspergers but a small percentage of persons have both and they are often mixed up since Aspergers and gifted persons have many similarities.
Look at the Davidson Institute table 1 shows you the similarities and differences between both, it is really interesting.
TV and more TV
My daughter goes once a month in an autism facility. The program is called « Aspergers Saturdays ». She says everyone there ask to watch TV, play video games or just play with all the electronics they can. It is really a priority at home too. We need to regulate the time she spends with screens at home or she would be looking at them 24/7. It is like a sanctuary for her. She forgets about everything else and really gets into it. We must be careful because it is often the reason she gets mad (when she cannot watch what she wants or play at what she wants). It is also a good way to prevent meltdown while in the car or in a public place. For this reason I really love portable electronics devices and wi-fi internet.
Aspergers are clumsy when it comes to social interaction and relationships. Since they do not always see and interpret the world as NT do, they can often seem awkward or insensitive. But it is not the case. They have emotions like everybody else but they can have trouble expressing them correctly. They also can seem super self-centered since they like to speak about subjects they know all about. Peers, mostly children, do not always relate with them when it happens since they often do not know or understand what is Autism Spectrum Disorder.
Aspergers children want friends like any other child. They just may need more time to find real friends that will accept them how they are and will not make fun of them or mislead them.
Stay tune for more
This is the first article of the series “5 things to know about Aspergers from an Aspergers child”.
There will be more articles like this one to come in the future.
Davidson Institude. Gifted children with Asperger’s Syndrome – http://www.davidsongifted.org/Search-Database/entry/A10167