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Would you say something to your friend? Rss

I have long suspected that a friend's 4 year old has Aspergers. My suspicion is based on having previously worked with a number of children with Aspergers and seeing a number of behaviours in her child that are characteristic of Aspergers. I'm not qualified to make the diagnosis so obviously I'm not 100% certain and therefore I've never been able to decide whether or not I should say anything.

On a very practical level I feel I should say something because I am aware of the benefits of early intervention and she is certainly the type of mother who would seek the support and educate herself around the issue. The flip side is that if I'm wrong it would pretty much be like a big insult. Plus there is the issue of how to even start the conversation, "Hey I'm a little worried about your child. They seem a bit different"." :s

At this point in time I've chosen not to say anything. Luckily for me my friend is actually very hands on with her kids, very social and, due to her natural parenting style, actually provides a lot of what would be involved with the early intervention anyway.

However I am curious to see what others would do in my situation.

On a side note I also suspect her husband may have Aspergers which makes saying something even more difficult because I don't think I'd be able to separate one from the other due to the genetic link.







what symptoms are they displaying? i am a teacher and i have found myself in the same position so many times.

on a personal and professional level, you can say what you have noticed and let them deal with that information themselves. hopefully your friend will be appreciative of it - and in most instances they are after their initial flip out.

your friend may not accept it either - and this has also happened in the classroom....kids presenting with signs but parents not accepting it so no help can be given.

my advice would be to approach it in a very calm and comforting manner...at least your friend should realise that you have the best intentions smile
I personally wouldn't mention it unless your friend brings it up
i wouldnt mention it either i dont think - but i'm not in that position.

You never know, she probably already knows or suspects anyway - maybe she isnt ready to talk about it to other people for fear of that label...

just support her - which i am sure you are doing smile
How close are you with your friend? As much as your intentions are in the best interest of the child, you could lose your friendship especially if your wrong. I would stay quiet until your friend brings up the topic about her child's behaviour and then suggest she gets him checked out....obviously don't come out with a specific diagnoses but just in general terms.
Is the child having meltdowns and trouble interacting with others?

Do they have sensory issues?

Have you gone through the Asperger DSM5 checklist and has the child marked all the criteria?

These symptoms that you see, are you sure this is the child's usual behaviour? How can you know what the child is like all the time?

I don't think it would be an insult if you were letting them know. Why is being different bad? It makes me a bit sad that people see these things as so bad that when someone thinks they could help a child by recognising a diagnosis, they actually don't say anything! That is why Aspergers has remained so underdiagnosed in girls for all this time. If this child has a lower quality of life because of being someone with undiagnosed Aspergers then surely they would be better off knowing?

There are a lot of things which can be similar to Aspergers - like giftedness for instance.

But Aspergers is not very understood, and even the professionals are still learning about it - how can you be so sure? Unless you have been in very close proximity to these people a lot, there is just no way you could make the judgement that her husband or child have Aspergers. It is a massive internal neurological difference, it isn't just being a bit wierd.

Also, there are way more factors to autism spectrum disorders than pure genetics. And if her husband does have AS, then that would be better for all of them to know wouldn't it?
Laura_Horrell wrote:
what symptoms are they displaying? i am a teacher and i have found myself in the same position so many times.

my advice would be to approach it in a very calm and comforting manner...at least your friend should realise that you have the best intentions smile


This is what I have observed (or what the mother has talked about), not necessarily in the order I've observed it in, but in the way in which it has ordered itself in my head which has subsequently led to the suspicions. (Smoe of this is in past tense because the behaviours are no longer as apparent)

Late in meeting milestones (including crawling and walking) but the ones that stand out to me are in regards to this are
* smiling,
*waving; and
*pointing.

Difficulties in social interaction. For example we belong to the same playgroup and when the children arrive thy will generally automatically head for the toys and find something of interest to play with. But this child from a very young age would stand around watching the other children and look (from lack of a better word) lost. If they did show interest in another toy it was always one that another child would be playing with (and they seemed to focus in on specific children). If there had been a fight about a particular toy the previous week, they would beeline that toy the following week and sit there holding it. Wouldn't play with it, just sit/stand there holding it, watching the other children for their reactions. If the other children didn't show any reaction the child would simply put down the toy and attempt to take one from someone else.

If the child wanted something from one of the adults they would simply stand very close to them and stare at them, not actually saying anything, but waiting for the adult to respond. This was different to usual 'shyness'as the child did not display any apprehension towards approaching the adult but would appear to simply not know how to initiate the interaction once they had done so.

Lack of empathy - The best example I can provide of this is an incident whereby my son had picked me a flower. I placed the flower next to me and the child who had observed the interaction came and took the flower once my son had walked away. When my son realised this occurred he told the other child that the flower belonged to me and asked him to give it back. The child didn't respond and just stood there staring at my son. As my son started to get upset and tried to take the flower back the child continued just to stare at him and would simply move their hand and the flower out of the way anytime my son tried to grab it. The movements were very slight and there was no facial expressions, just very blank and if there was any sign of anything at all it was confusion. (there have been other incidents too, but this is one that really sticks out in my mind)

Other little things include subdued facial expressions and lack of co-ordination (not clumsy, but stiff and awkward (jerky) in their movements).

Despite the issues with his social interaction they haven't got what may be labeled by other parents as bad or problem behaviours. They're not oppositional or aggressive. Other parents actually often comment on how well behaved they are. Another comment that is frequently made is how bright they are. And they certainly do show signs of advanced intellectual and language development, which in itself is another trait.

Other things that have been mentioned by the mother include being "addicted" to routine. The child has previously "lost it"over the mother's failure to stick to a part of a routine that she hadn't even realised was part of the routine and sensitivity to certain environments and stimuli (too bright or too loud).

Given I've spent less time with the father (the child I usually see at least once a week , but there were periods of time when I'd see them up to three times a weeks), my suspicions are based on his lack of awareness in relation to social norms - intrusion onto personal space, staring and what would usually be regarded as inappropriate conversations in reference to the audience. I'm also aware from my friend's stories that he is very 'anal' almost OCD in regards to order, structure and routine. probably stuff I may have overlooked if it weren't for the child's behaviours as well which helped form the link.







My 3 Little Terror Tots! wrote:
Laura_Horrell wrote:
what symptoms are they displaying? i am a teacher and i have found myself in the same position so many times.

my advice would be to approach it in a very calm and comforting manner...at least your friend should realise that you have the best intentions smile

This is what I have observed (or what the mother has talked about), not necessarily in the order I've observed it in, but in the way in which it has ordered itself in my head which has subsequently led to the suspicions. (Smoe of this is in past tense because the behaviours are no longer as apparent)

Late in meeting milestones (including crawling and walking) but the ones that stand out to me are in regards to this are
* smiling,
*waving; and
*pointing.

Difficulties in social interaction. For example we belong to the same playgroup and when the children arrive thy will generally automatically head for the toys and find something of interest to play with. But this child from a very young age would stand around watching the other children and look (from lack of a better word) lost. If they did show interest in another toy it was always one that another child would be playing with (and they seemed to focus in on specific children). If there had been a fight about a particular toy the previous week, they would beeline that toy the following week and sit there holding it. Wouldn't play with it, just sit/stand there holding it, watching the other children for their reactions. If the other children didn't show any reaction the child would simply put down the toy and attempt to take one from someone else.

If the child wanted something from one of the adults they would simply stand very close to them and stare at them, not actually saying anything, but waiting for the adult to respond. This was different to usual 'shyness'as the child did not display any apprehension towards approaching the adult but would appear to simply not know how to initiate the interaction once they had done so.

Lack of empathy - The best example I can provide of this is an incident whereby my son had picked me a flower. I placed the flower next to me and the child who had observed the interaction came and took the flower once my son had walked away. When my son realised this occurred he told the other child that the flower belonged to me and asked him to give it back. The child didn't respond and just stood there staring at my son. As my son started to get upset and tried to take the flower back the child continued just to stare at him and would simply move their hand and the flower out of the way anytime my son tried to grab it. The movements were very slight and there was no facial expressions, just very blank and if there was any sign of anything at all it was confusion. (there have been other incidents too, but this is one that really sticks out in my mind)

Other little things include subdued facial expressions and lack of co-ordination (not clumsy, but stiff and awkward (jerky) in their movements).

Despite the issues with his social interaction they haven't got what may be labeled by other parents as bad or problem behaviours. They're not oppositional or aggressive. Other parents actually often comment on how well behaved they are. Another comment that is frequently made is how bright they are. And they certainly do show signs of advanced intellectual and language development, which in itself is another trait.

Other things that have been mentioned by the mother include being "addicted" to routine. The child has previously "lost it"over the mother's failure to stick to a part of a routine that she hadn't even realised was part of the routine and sensitivity to certain environments and stimuli (too bright or too loud).

Given I've spent less time with the father (the child I usually see at least once a week , but there were periods of time when I'd see them up to three times a weeks), my suspicions are based on his lack of awareness in relation to social norms - intrusion onto personal space, staring and what would usually be regarded as inappropriate conversations in reference to the audience. I'm also aware from my friend's stories that he is very 'anal' almost OCD in regards to order, structure and routine. probably stuff I may have overlooked if it weren't for the child's behaviours as well which helped form the link.


how old is the child?
lol - i just seen the original post!

some of the behaviours that you are describing - esp the toy thing can be just the child trying to stamp their authority.... when i used to do day care before teaching, i had a boy just like it!

by holding the toys, he may be trying to say "look at me, im the alpha male" type thing and is trying to attract attention that way.

lack of empathy is classic of asperges, and they tend to be very logical too - so if he does any school readiness, this may be something to look at.

hope that helps
I really want to point out that someone with Aspergers, does NOT lack empathy.

If you think the child has no clue in social situations (including outside of playgroup) and needs routine in order to just function, then I personally would suggest to the mum that adherance to routine is a symptom of Asperger syndrome. (However, I do have a very good understanding of AS - if I hadn't done extensive research of your own, I would never feel that I was even capable of picking up something like that) If you're wrong - well, you have good intentions and if a parent is hurt by truth then they need to overcome those feelings (if AS is involved I mean).

Stealing toys from others purposefully to upset others - that doesn't sound like Asperger's at all. Asperger's children make social errors because they don't understand social rules and cues, not because they like to disrupt social calm.

But please don't mention empathy - just because the child froze up, or didn't notice someone was upset - doesn't mean they lack empathy!
Ok, I'll start with the child's father since it is a bit less complicated. I would need more detail than you have described to come to any real conclusions, however I think what you have described doesn't really lead me to think he has Asperger's disorder. Some people simply have less understanding of social dynamics than others, it doesn't necessarily indicate a disorder. I wouldn't be overly concerned. It may be that he is a little shy, or he is thinking about introducing a topic and he has thought so much that by the time he does it, it's no longer appropriate. People are vastly different from each other, I really wouldn't be too worried about him.

As for the child, I wouldn't be too worried about Asperger's, either. You haven't included his age, but I assume that since he attends a playgroup, he is younger than school age. He is still very young, and the behaviours you have described don't really indicate to me a lack of social competence, a big part of which is emotional competence. He sounds like a shy child who may yet lack the communication skills to effectively get his point across - that is not necessarily a problem. It really depends on his age. He may be unsure as to how to broach things with adults, particularly those that are not his parents and that he is therefore uncomfortable with - this is pretty normal for children, too. A lot of children like to stand back and watch at the start of play sessions, to collect information about the dynamic that is going on, and to gain familiarity and become more comfortable with the situation. It's quite normal for a child to also covet a toy that another child has, and I am sure that if he couldn't play with it that week, then he will want to try it next week. Perhaps he hasn't given any thought to what he will do with the toy once he obtains it, simply having focusing his attention on wanting it. It may be that he is uncomfortable with play, or perhaps he needs a bit of encouragement or guidance as to how he may be able to play with particular toys. As for lack of empathy, for a start, people with Asperger's DO NOT lack empathy. How can you know someone is lacking empathy, if you cannot see inside to what they are thinking or feeling? In my experience, both adults and children with Asperger's experience a fierce amount of empathy for others, however they may have difficulty expressing that empathy. For a start, perhaps they feel for a person but have no idea what they can do to help the situation, if anything - this is something that they may or may not learn as they get older. Secondly, it may be that the feelings of empathy are so strong that it is overwhelming to them. To me, it seems this child simply wanted to look at the flower because he was curious - there is nothing wrong with that, it is quite normal. It is also quite normal for him to not give it back when asked - many children do that, often parents intervene in that situation to rectify the situation, but there are many different approaches to that, too. Lastly, Asperger's can be difficult to diagnose in young children because there are so few physical signs. They do not tend to reach their developmental milestones later than other children, and in fact developmental milestones are simply a guideline, actual developmental pace differs vastly between children. They may or may not have a speech delay, and they may or may not be brighter or more intelligent than other children - this differs vastly between everyone, and it is exceptionally difficult to measure, if you are inclined to actually want to do so, which I'm not. Of course, it is incredibly difficult to really have any indication of how 'normal' this child's behaviour is, since you have not provided us with his age. I have one child who was diagnosed at age 8 with Asperger's syndrome, and another who is going to be starting the diagnostic process in the next couple of years - she is almost 5. There is a long wait for pediatricians! My eight year old developed fairly regularly in terms of speech, and reached her developmental milestones early. She did not appear to lack emotions or empathy - in fact, it was the opposite. Her feelings were too much for her to handle, and she has needed therapy in order to get some coping mechanisms that enable her to function fairly well in her school environment. My five year old does have a bit of a speech delay, but she reached her other developmental milestones early. However, she has sensory issues, such as a fierce need to touch hair, and she enjoys holding dirt and gravel, and sometimes leaves. She also finds it difficult to manage her emotions. Both of these children melt down when they feel strong emotion, and also when there is too much noise, people, light, and the list goes on.

kerrie, VIC, DD 12/8/03, DD 12/10/05, DD 14/9/07, DD 4/1/10

Children cannot be diagnosed as sociopaths. A child with conduct disorder, which may be a precursor to antisocial personality disorder, which is basically sociopathy, would go out of their way to upset another child, and show no remorse for having upset them. This child has simply expressed an interest in a flower. He didn't rip it up and throw it on the ground, he simply wanted to hold it and not give it back.

kerrie, VIC, DD 12/8/03, DD 12/10/05, DD 14/9/07, DD 4/1/10

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