Thank You

iVillage Member
Registered: 03-26-2003
Thank You
4
Mon, 05-05-2003 - 7:04am
Thank you very much for the information on AS and for not assuming I was just being nosy. I have to say tho, that of what I read and can compare to the behavior I've seen of DH's nephew, which is limited by the way, I don't know that he would qualify. We only see him once in a while as we live nearly an hour apart and SIL is very, shall I say "strange", about the things she wants to do so that her children can spend time with family. The only thing specifically mentioned that I have seen him do is the repetitive body movements (he hops up and down and flaps his arms and hands, much like a chicken would). Some other things SIL and MIL have told us he's done are to throw tantrums, pick fights and throw things at his teachers.. things that I, myself, would consider to be him acting out against the fact that his parents are going thru a very messy divorce and he's been moved out of his home and away from his school friends. His younger brother is doing some similiar things, altho his go a little more to the extreme it seems.

I don't know. Maybe this is all just me... SIL is younger than I am and has 3 children. We definitely have different ideas on child rearing so I could just be "looking" for something, y'know? But I really don't think I am. The children are, and have been for as long as I've known them, constantly bounced from place to place with people to watch them and some of this behavior just seems like it might be thier way of saying "hey, mom, down here !! could you sit with me a while?" Then again, I could be very wrong. Either way, the children are the ones that are losing out here and I hate to see that happen.

Thanks again,

V.

iVillage Member
Registered: 03-26-2003
In reply to: ssethsmom
Mon, 05-05-2003 - 11:54am
Your feelings and concerns are common among family members and friends who are not the ones living with the child day after day. I am glad you are taking the time to educate yourself on the disability so you can be understanding. I appreciate that.

Asperger's is an "invisible disability" in that it can be hard to see. They don't need a wheelchair or a white cane. It more has to do with how their brain works. Also, with limited time to meet him, you wouldn't have the chance to see all his range of difficulties. My dd looks very "normal" to people that meet her teh first time. She make act a little odd, not want to look at you, talk your ear off about animals or birthdays if she happens to feel comfortable enough, seem immature or bratty. But no one who doesn't know her would expect that she has a disability or how severely it can affect her ability to function. I am sure, in fact I know, that there are many people who thought if I just did a better job of parenting that both my older kids would be fine.

It is much more likely that your nephew shows more symptoms when he is under stress at school or perhaps in his home element where he is more comfortable than the times shen you have seen him. Also, about the younger sibling, autism spectrum disorders often tend to run in families. It is possible the younger one has some symptoms as well. It is also possible that he is copying the behaviors of the older one. That is also common among younger siblings of children with autism spectrum disorders. I have 1 more son with similar difficulties as well, but my other 2 do not have autism type problems.

As for SIL being strange about things, that is easy to do when your child has asperger's. When your child throws tantrums easily and is very difficult, as they are babies and grow it becomes common to try to plan so they are only successful on trips. Many activities are very frustrating. For instance, my kids were runaways and I couldn't take them anywhere where they may run. My youngest is very aggressive if around too many people, He gets overstimulated easily, so I have to plan actities that are less crowded. It is also embarrasing when your kids don't behave like typical kids and you are likely to get the "bad mom" stares or "what the heck is wrong with your kid" stares. It is useless to try to explain to strangers about asperger's becuase they probably won't understand or may say "but he doesn't look autistic to me". It just makes going places and doing things not a whole lot of fun.

That is why I am so glad that you are tryign to learn and understand. I have one SIL with a son with autism as well. I wish my nephew didn't, but it is really nice having one person in the family at functions that understands. My other SILs are getting better, but amung 10 grandchildren, 3 have some sort of autims spectrum disorder, so I guess they have too. It would be great if you could be that understanding one for your SIL. Nobody wants a child with any disability, it really helps to have support.

Renee


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iVillage Member
Registered: 03-26-2003
In reply to: ssethsmom
Mon, 05-05-2003 - 4:12pm
The really strange with my SIL is that when I first began dating my husband I really liked her. She seemed fun and outgoing, bubbly I guess and that was a refreshing change from my own family. Then DH and I started talking marriage and then came the advice which, of course, I took with a grain of salt and a smile b/c I could see (as well as anyone else) that her own marriage was on its last legs. And then came my own son and right from the first moment she laid eyes on him she made me feel like a bad mom and it had only been a week. And since then (its been nearly two years now) there is nothing but snide remarks made about what my son is not doing instead of what he is accomplishing as well as about my home and my family. Not to mention she has recently put me on MIL's bad side by repeating things out of context from a conversation she and I had. All of that said, I find it really difficult to be sympathetic to her. I know for a fact that some of the problems she has with her children could've been prevented by her lack of action toward her husband until it was too late and that frustrates me. I'm always on the side of the child.. offered to take them for a few days for her when things were really bad, but got a flat no, that nothing was wrong. Of course, if AS is in fact what he has I would do what I could to help automatically, it's just the way I am. I would just hate to see him being diagnosed wrongly and have her solution be something as simply as a little extra love.

V.

iVillage Member
Registered: 03-26-2003
In reply to: ssethsmom
Mon, 05-05-2003 - 6:13pm
Can I but in? :) I'm really good at butting in, LOL.

First of all, I too would like to thank you for caring enough about your dnf to find out more about AS and autism. Too many people see what you've described and make snap judgements. And it's always the Aspie that suffers.

I would like to say that what you have described of your nephew sounds very much like AS. The second most common layman's discription of the syndrome is "disciplline problem, just trying to get attention". The first most common is "smart, but odd (or eccentric)". I found that of all the great websites and books out there on AS the most commonly described AS persona is only the introverted extreme. It describes a child who keeps to themselves, doesn't want to play with others, never asks for anything, etc. But there is another side to that coin, the extrovert, which accounts for as much as 45% of cases.

Extroverted Aspies constantly interupt people with totally unrelated questions. As kids they seem to be constantly trying to 'hog' their parent's attention, especially the mother's. They will be quiet and content right up until their mom starts to talk to another person.....then WHAM, they HAVE to have her undivided attention. If the mother tries to go somewhere (like to the store....or even to the bathroom) they will want to go and may throw tantrums (meltdowns) if they are denied. Aspies, both introverted and extroverted, have a tendancey to get in their primary caregiver's way at the least oppertune times (like while cooking or working with dangerous stuff). An Aspie may actually call their own parent a liar right out in front of people if they notice even the slightest discrepency in what the parent has just said. They are constantly correcting people when they have no right to do so (or so it may seem).

All of this is stimmed by the AS. Aspies usually 'cling' to one person as a lifeline. This is esential as an early survival skill for them. They don't know how to interact with others by instinct the way NT (normal) children seemingly do. One of the diagnostic traits of AS is "displays inapropriate social conductivity or the lack of age appropriate social skills." Interupting, shouting, physically picking at people, refusing to stop what they're doing, these are all manifestations of this trait (plus there are more). Yes, NT kids do these things too, but in an Aspie it seen at unusually high levels. They cling to the parent as a guide and use them as a social burromiter (sp?) because, unlike NT kids they have no external intuition of their own to work on.

That being said, and in a way I hate to be the one to point this out, your SIL sounds like an Aspie too. Either that, or a woman who has lived with an adult Aspie for a very long time. Your desription of her, her actions towards you, her son, her husband, and how they have changed recently, could also describe my grandmother, my two older sisters, my great aunt, and two cousins. All of these people are adult female Aspies. So I guess the good news is your not crazy, and there IS a reason for her behavior. The bad news is there's nothing you can do about it in her case. Except maybe talk to her in more concrete terms. That way she won't misunderstand you as much.

All of that said, I would like to point out (mostly for the benifit of anyone else reading this post) that your SIL's divorce can indeed be magnifying your nephew's problems. It's hard enough for an NT child to deal with something like that much less an Aspie. Stims and traits that may otherwize be subtle are probably becoming overactive in him right now. Aspies don't do well with change, and divorce is about as severe as change can get (second only to death).

My heart goes out to your nephew, and to you. It's hard trying to understand AS, and it takes time. But at least your trying. Again, thank you for being such a caring person.

Candes

Peace,
Candes  
iVillage Member
Registered: 04-27-2003
In reply to: ssethsmom
Tue, 05-06-2003 - 11:13pm
Well, I hope I am not being a pain here, but I have been thinking about this all day and feel I need to say this. It sounds like you and SIL have a lot of baggage together and my whole self is going like a siren "Proceed with caution!!" Ask yourself what is really in the best interest of any child, and I think almost always the answer is: having faith in their parents and their love for them. Be sure that you are not being a negative in this whole equation and not undermining Mom, who IS the Mom of that kid. It sounds like your SIL really annoys you (maybe justifiably) so I think you'd better be extra careful here. This idea that if we just parented better our kids would be fine is the most sensitive spot any parent of an Aspie kid has and I bet that if you press that one, that will really send your extended family dynamics into further turmoil. Fundamentally it's the kid and parents, divorced or not, who will need to work this out. You may not have a role to play right now, or you may. But if you are not on good enough terms to talk with them directly about the diagnosis and what's going on with their kid and ASK how you can be helpful, you're really at risk for making the situation worse not better.

I don't know the situation like you do or the subtlties of all these relationships. I'm just saying, be careful and take your time before you put your oar in. The kid isn't going anywhere and Aspergers is a lifelong condition. By the way, it is not an easy diagnosis to get so if the kid already has been diagnosed, I would be reasonably confident about it.

Tony Attwood's book Asperger Syndrome is a very good, short introduction to Aspergers and will familiarize you with some of the common "solutions" and strategies parents use to help their kids as well as the symptoms. The outcome can be very good but these kids need specific kinds of accomodations, and even if a diagnosis is uncertain they can be tried. Maybe this will help you learn more and think about ways you might be able to help down the road if your relationship with SIL improves (or to help your brother out with his parenting if he wants). I am glad you found this board and some resources. Good luck.