Could my teen have Asperger Syndrome????

iVillage Member
Registered: 04-10-2007
Could my teen have Asperger Syndrome????
Tue, 04-10-2007 - 2:04pm


I have a 15 y/o step son (who's b-day is today) and we have tried for two years now to correct his bad behavior. He has been in the PINS (persons in need of supervision) program for over a year, counseling with school and psycologists, we have provided him with love, support, resources, encouragement, etc., yet we can not seem to change or modify his negative behaviors.

He is defiant, rebelous, and explosive at times (typical teenager), but what's worse is that at the age of 15 he still wets his bed and does not take care of his wet clothing and beding. He will leave it in his room for days until it starts to radiate through our house and his father gets on him to care for it. His hygene is atrocious, he does not like to shower, he uses the toilet plunger, fills it up with toilet residue and then laughs about it when confronted.

He is obsessed with sprots knowledge and can tell you the name of any player, his number, his birthday, his average, his shortcoming, etc. It is truly his sole focus in life and one of the only things he talks about. He fails miserably in school, primarily due to his lack of interest and likes any attention, positive or negative.

We have been addressing his issues like he is a normal teenager who needs corrective acion, but due to his abnormal behaviors, I am concerned that we are overlooking something. I started to do some research today and it appears that he exhibits several characteristics associated with Asperger Syndrome.

Can anyone tell me if they have had a teenager diagnosed with this syndrome? If so, did you run accross any of the symptoms I have just discussed?

iVillage Member
Registered: 06-25-2003
Tue, 04-10-2007 - 3:56pm

Hello and welcome,

And happy birthday to your DSS BTW

Well kudos to you for asking questions, performing your own research and trying to find some real answers for your DSS. My kids are younger (8 and 6), so I don't know much about


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iVillage Member
Registered: 01-29-2004
Tue, 04-10-2007 - 3:56pm

Get him evaluated ASAP. you are listing some of the symptoms of Asperger. If you know your problem you can try and correct him the "right" way.

take care,

iVillage Member
Registered: 04-10-2007
Tue, 04-10-2007 - 4:46pm

Thanks, Paula.

He has been diagnosed with so many things that it is difficult to really assess what is real. In his earlier years, I guess he was diagnosed by the schools with a mentally disabling learning condition that placed him in the special needs classes at school (which he is repeating 8th grade primarily because he is clinging to his childhood and refuses to do the work). When he wants to do the work he rises to the occasion, but if he does not want to do the work, he relies on his "label" by the school. This year, although they kept him in the program, they have determined a lot of his issues are of his own free will. He has been also diagnosed with ADHD and is on Straterra. It has helped some, but it was not the miracle drug that we had hoped for.

We work with a home parenting counselor on a weekly basis and my DSS sees a mental health counselor once a month.

We are requesting a psycological eval be performed on May 16th, but it could take months to get him in.

The PINS program is a state funded programs that intervenes youths prior to them getting in trouble with the law. He had to go to anger management classes and a representative comes to talk to him at school once a month (a joke in my eyes). The next step with this program is to take him away to a youth camp, that will be like a military camp, for one year. Although I had thought that this is exactly what he needs, I would not want to take that action if there were underlying medical conditions causing his behavior.

I feel so trapped.

Thank you for talking to me and for your support.

iVillage Member
Registered: 04-10-2007
Tue, 04-10-2007 - 4:47pm
Thank you for your reply. We can't do anything until after the 16th of May, but we are on a cancellation list for a psycological eval.
iVillage Member
Registered: 06-25-2003
Tue, 04-10-2007 - 8:40pm

oh boy.

I feel so bad for both you and the boy. My gut is telling me that there is some underlying disability here that has not been adequately recognized. Instead this kid has been labelled "stubborn", "rebellious" and God-know what else; -probably by the schools.

Give them long enough, and negative labels will become a


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iVillage Member
Registered: 04-10-2007
Wed, 04-11-2007 - 9:51am

Paula - You may be a true blessing to my sanity!!!!!

Here are some of the things that I was reading about Asperger that stuck out with my DSS:

- repetitive routine rituals (gets up early in the morning and goes to bat baseballs in the yard for hours in the summer)
- taking figures of speak literal
- peculiar, stiff gaze (whenever you catch him in a lie)
- clumsy and uncoordinated motor movements (Joe said he has always been a slow learner and he will not get near anything that requires patience and fine motor skills, such as a puzzle)
- fails to demonstrate empathy with peers (thinks everything is a joke)
- lacks the ability to modulate his volume and needs to constantly be reminded to keep his voice down
- had problems learning to ride a bike and play ball as a child (still has great difficulty learning new tasks)
- had trouble controlling his bowel functions until the age of 12 (seen more in Autism)
- still has trouble controlling his bladder functions at night (seen more in Autism)
- often co-exist with ADHD

The big one that sticks out for me is:

- the all-absorbing interest in a single topic, (sports – he can tell you anything about any sports or wrestling person and talk about it for hours – it is a random collection of facts, usually with no point or conclusion, which is all he ever wants to talk about) yet if you change the subject he will leave.

These are some of the problems that we have been faced with in the last six months, which are either new or have increased in intensity:

1) He refuses to deal with his hygiene issues and has developed some new ones that are intolerable (would not shower for 4 days when we were in IL for my sons Navy graduation, in spite of being asked and told to do so by the sitter).
2) He lies or makes up stories on a constant basis.
3) Not only is he continuing to eat in places of the houses that are off limits, but he hides the empty wrappers, cans, bottles, etc. all over the house, now most recently he is hiding new dishes and silverware in places to be lost forever.
4) He sneaks around behind our back and defies our punishments (lying to our faces when confronted with the evidence).
5) He used the toilet plunger and left the fecal matter in the plunger (and in the plastic container that it is kept in) for several days until I discovered where the smell in our bathroom was radiating from. There was actually mold growing on the fecal matter that remained. When confronted with this, he laughed and thought it was funny.
6) He has stolen from my daughter and his mother…I don’t know if there has been anyone else.
7) He has made sexually harassing gestures at school.
8) He continues to be physical with his brother.
9) He continues to get bad grades in school and most recently has three missing assignments.

I completely understand what you are saying, but without a proper diagnosis, how do we know if it is Asperger or defiance?

I'm really husband and I are no longer speaking, he has chosen the side of his child (to be expected) and has indicated that the DSS hates me and wants to move out.

I know you can't possibly comprehend what my life is like in a short period of time, but anyone who has known me in the last two and a half years could tell you that I have given up my life (my own wants, needs and desires and those of my own children) for these boys and my help them, to support them, to guide them, and to love them (they have had a difficult life with a psyco mother and still contend with it to this day).

It has not been an easy road and it has been a very selfless one on my part. My husband is fantastic when all is going well, but as soon as there is an issue with one of his children, he turns on us (me and my children) and we pay the price. It is like he intentionally punishes the "good" people (I'm not using this in a literal form) in his life and supports the bad behavior, which in my eyes, only encourages more. For some reason it is easier for him to handle the issues that way. It is his form of denial.

At any rate, I feel that I have bent over backwards, been tied up in knots, spit on, slapped in the face, and punched in the gut for all that I have done. (I take time off of work, I have sold stock and drained accounts to cover lawyer bills and other issues). Now I have this child saying that he hates me (because his father and I are attempting to enforce structure and discipline in his life), the father is willingly accepting these cruel selfish intentions, and he has gotten what all the counselors say he wants...for us to be a part.

The fight may be over for me anyway, since my husband refuses to hear about anything that I have researched on Asperger Syndrome. I did send the fax to his counselor, out of pure love for this child, but I have been cast out of our home and my love is being ignored.

I have to run off to a meeting. Thanks for talking...

iVillage Member
Registered: 04-07-2003
Thu, 04-12-2007 - 10:20am

Have you already broached the possibility of Asperger's to your dh & dss? If they aren't dead set against hearing it, I'd approach it like "Look what I discovered? We owe you a big apology. All these things that we thought were your fault, I've discovered might actually be due to a hidden disability we didn't realize existed. I'm realizing how difficult your life must be and want to set up some appointments to help you get some answers and support."

I have four kids, two of whom were just recently formally diagnosed with Aspergers at 8 & 12yo. Because they are so high functioning, and because they are intelligent little human beings (very high IQ), it was hard for anyone to see their challenges so just dismissed their issues as "being a kid" or "being prepubescent," etc. We learned that dh is most likely AS, too, but he was never diagnosed. As the doctors were discussing supports we need to set in place for our children, dh voiced his wish that someone had recognized his problems earlier, so that he could have had some supports for himself growing up. Although he's been "successful" in life, he's required more family guidance, suffered various job losses, and experienced a lot of stressful life challenges as a result of not knowing what his problems were and how to compensate for them.

When I first mentioned the word "autism" to my 12yo dd, she was fairly upset, especially since we know a girl with full blown autism, and dd thought I was trying to compare her to that girl. However, once I pointed out that there are all different levels of autism and that she only had a very mild version, and that there were strengths that also came along with the diagnosis (great memory skills, for instance), she calmed down and began to accept it. She also appreciated the fact that there was a reason for some of her challenges. She even made the observation herself that some children are born deaf, but she "just has AS" (she has a friend whose parents are deaf).

My 12yo has milder AS symptoms than 8yo, but she's my AS child who also has the bowel and bladder troubles. She wets the bed nightly and is completely oblivious to the stench. She doesn't care if she sits in soiled (feces) undies or if she leaves them lying around the bathroom for others to see (or the dog to eat -- blech). She is at least willing to wear an adult diaper to bed which reduces the amount of urine to hit the bedding, tho' we're still working on getting her to consistently throw the diapers away the next day rather than putting them in the laundry hamper or leaving them on the floor. If your ds wasn't prepared to wear something like that, you can get disposable bed pads in the adult diaper section that he could sleep on which would reduce the amount of soiled bedding and stench.

If your ds is needing to use the toilet plunger regularly, he may have some bowel problems that are potentially the cause of his bed wetting. When you have sluggish bowels (not uncommon with autism), the intestinal tract overfills before emptying, creating very large stool which plugs the toilet. It puts pressure on the bladder which makes bladder control more difficult, too. In my dd case, we have a duel parent family history of bed wetting PLUS the bowel pressure on the bladder, so she just didn't have much chance at avoiding bed wetting. If you pursue the bowel issues, make sure dss gets an x-ray of his gut. Palpating the belly IS NOT ACCURATE for assessing how much stool is in the intestinal tract. If your dss has an inordinate amount of stool, he will need to start taking an osmotic type laxative which helps hold water in the stool to prevent it from getting too dry and too big before emptying, and help keep him more regular. Osmotic laxatives (like Benefiber or Miralax) are not habit forming and are safe for daily use.

Although my kids' behavior still needs corrective action, I have found that knowing that they have AS has changed my approach to them. Because I now understand that they are not being willful, I am less angry when I correct them. I still get VERY frustrated at having to constantly re-direct them every 2-seconds to stay on whatever task they should be accomplishing, but it has helped me soooooo much to realize how much of this is not willful. I have also gotten better at recognizing their triggers and am better able to avoid some of their outbursts (we still have plenty, but there are fewer than there were).

Because my kids' AS is a milder version and doesn't have all the stereotypical behaviors (few stimming behaviors, like hand flapping; they have a couple of friends; they can often look you in the eye when talking), it was harder for us to get a diagnosis. Our best help was when we met with a "team" of doctors at Children's Hospital, and had very thorough interviews/testing conducted with a psychologist, neuropsychologist, and a speech person. Questionnaires were also completed by the school teachers. When the doctors had a comprehensive look at the kids' behavior, it was actually quite easy for them to give us a diagnosis even tho' several doctors, including specialist before them, had told us my kids were NOT AS since those docs only had glimpses of the kids and their behavior. Since a lot of the diagnostic procedure is through what YOU tell the doctor(s), it is important for you to provide the doctors with EVERY LITTLE DETAIL that you can think of. It will be important for dad to be part of this process, too, because the docs will want to know both what dss is like now as well as what he was like as a 4-5 yr old and what his developmental milestones were like (walking, talking, interactive play, etc).

Without a formal diagnosis, you can still make adjustments to how you work with your dss, but WITH a diagnosis, he can get school supports which it sounds like he very much needs. He needs to be viewed as a child with a disability rather than a bad kid.

One of the things we've discovered with my AS kids (& dh) is that there are VERY FEW positive or negative consequences that motivate them to change their behavior, so using traditional methods of corrective action is fairly ineffective because they're motivated by whatever inner compulsions they have as opposed to external threats/bribes. We have our first therapy appointment next week with a psychologist who specializes in autism (she was actually part of the team who diagnosed the kids), and we're hoping she'll help us come up with better strategies for motivating the kids to do the things they should be doing.

A couple of books we enjoyed reading, written from an AS child's viewpoint, were "The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime," and "The Blue Bottle Mystery." The main character in the first book was more AS than my kids, but it gives you good insight into their thought processes. When dh read it, he kept saying, "that's me!" The 2nd book is actually written on a younger kid level (2-3rd grade, maybe), but the opening chapter was a serious re-enactment of a million encounters I had with my kids before we discovered they had AS.

Sorry this has been so long. The ladies here are great at providing info. I still feel like I'm new at this myself, but I've gotten TONS of info here that has been invaluable to our family.

Best wishes that your dh and dss are willing to listen to this info that will change their lives for the good. Even if it's not AS, there's SOMETHING that's undiagnosed, and their lives will only improve once they discover what it is. And bless you for being willing to fight so hard for those you love!

iVillage Member
Registered: 11-15-2006
Fri, 04-13-2007 - 12:40am

I was interested in your post when I read what you said about your daughter being a bit "higher" functioning and therefore difficult to try and get a diagnosis.

- Christina mom to-

Chloe (10)    Aiden(8)   

iVillage Member
Registered: 05-28-2004
Sun, 04-15-2007 - 2:40pm

Dear Von,

I have nothing to add-it sounds like you have a lot of good information from others on the board,

But I read this thread and I am struck by what a gift you are to your family. With all that you are going through with your relationship with your husband and your DSS, you are still focused on discovering something that may have been overlooked for years in your DSS and helping him. That is beautiful. You are my role model.

I hope you stick around a while. It sounds like there is "something" there aside from just giving adults a hard time for its own sake. Aspergers or whatever....welcome.


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