Tuesday, October 26, 2010

What is the difference between High Fuctioning Autism, Aspergers, and classic Autism?

My son has a diagnoses of Autism, his autism is high functioning, possibly Aspergers. Autism is actually a whole spectrum...a child with high functioning autism can be described in the following way"In the case of high functioning autism, the afflicted person will have high IQ and is regarded as genius some times, but they lack in understanding non-verbal communication and social skills." These kids are often called "little professors because of their almost adult way of speaking. In many ways "A" seems like a normal four year old, it is actually hard for people to believe he has autism. "A" prefers the company of adults, he doesn't like to make eye contact, he says that eye contact "makes him embarrassed". He likes to be around other children his age, but he has a difficult time approaching them. He prefers to play alone or with his 15 year old brother. "A" can spend hours building "structures" out of Lego's. Right now he is building houses.

"A" does not get it when someone is joking, he takes everything very literally. Pet names confuse him, and figures of speech are frustrating for him. If I get mad at the dog and say "I am going to kill her" really believes I am going to kill the dog. "A" has a hard time reading emotions and is constantly asking if someone is happy, sad, etc.

"A" is very smart and his IQ is high, but he has trouble remembering his colors. He has a hard time sitting still because his sensory system is so overwhelmed. Sensory problems are common with autism, but that is a whole other issue, I will post more on sensory later!

Here are some symptoms of Aspergers Syndrome:

Signs and symptoms of Asperger's syndrome include:
*Engaging in one-sided, long-winded conversations, without noticing if the listener is listening or trying to change the subject
*Displaying unusual nonverbal communication, such as lack of eye contact, few facial expressions, or awkward body postures and gestures
*Showing an intense obsession with one or two specific, narrow subjects, such as baseball statistics, train schedules, weather or snakes
*Appearing not to understand, empathize with or be sensitive to others' feelings
*Having a hard time "reading" other people or understanding humor
*Speaking in a voice that is monotonous, rigid or unusually fast
*Moving clumsily, with poor coordination
*Having an odd posture or a rigid gait

Early Red Flags that may indicate Autism:

No big smiles or other warm, joyful expressions by six months or thereafter
No back-and-forth sharing of sounds, smiles, or other facial expressions by nine months or thereafter
No babbling by 12 months
No back-and-forth gestures, such as pointing, showing, reaching, or waving by 12 months
No words by 16 months
No two-word meaningful phrases (without imitating or repeating) by 24 months
Any loss of speech or babbling or social skills at any age.

Early intervention is important, it is no longer acceptable to just ignore these symptoms and see if the child grows out of it, they may, but what if they don't? Then you have lost precious months and years of intervention, if your baby shows any of these red flags you should see your pediatrician for an evaluation.

"A" at 18 months old. He started talking in full sentences well before his first birthday, he could sing Amazing Grace all the way through when he was 15 months old.

Bright lights are painful for "A" sunglasses are a must on a sunny day.

"A" can often be seen playing "beside" other children, without actually interacting with them. This type of play is more typical of young toddlers.

1 comment:

Kris said...

I think this is a great description of HFA and Asperger's. I have been over these types of lists a million times. My son is most likely on the spectrum but his symptoms don't fit any one pattern - he doesn't meet criteria for HFA or Asperger's. For example, he totally understands nonliteral lanugage - jokes, sarcasm, etc. He does not obsess on things or have one-sided conversations. His communication style, while a bit "odd" is not really consistant with Asperger's/HFA. HE plays with other kids if the play is active, but will not play with toys such as legos or toy cars b/c he can't sit still. He is a sensory seeker and needs to move around. He often seems "out of it" and/or "clueless" and while his IQ is normal, he is certainly not gifted. He does not have any special gifts or talents as often seen in kids with Asperger's. Most things are harder for him from academics to sports. He does like sports and does OK, he is not particularly clumsy. What we know for sure is he has Sensory Processing Disorder, a very slow processing speed and some specific language difficulties. Perhaps PDD-NOS???? It is frustrating not really "fitting in" anywhere.

However, I concure EI is key. My son had it and it helped him tremendously. At 7 he continues with Speech and OT.