Thursday, 11 October 2012

Attention and Asperger's

Jack has been in kindergarten for almost two months.  I talked about my worries to some extent a few weeks ago in  I want to touch on this further as it is becoming more of an issue.  I emailed Jack's teacher the same night I wrote this post, I hadn't heard a peep from her, and I was concerned.  Her response read something like- Jack's attention is quite an issue, myself, the OT, and the special educator are all concerned.  She stated that she is worried that Jack is going to start to lag behind- that she has to constantly move him from circle time because he cannot focus and cannot keep his hands to himself.  She agreed that he is by no means low academically, but said that she can rarely get an answer from him because he is so distracted.  He scores in her "middle level group" but cannot do the written work on his own- she feels that this is mostly due to attention and not his fine motor delays.  Then she called him a sweetheart. 

I knew this was what I was going to hear.  I was praying he had miraculously not been having issues, but I knew better.  It is the ultimate contradiction in terms.  Jack is so hyperfocused on some topics, like his airplanes, robots, hermit crabs, but cannot focus on tasks and cannot sit still to save his life.  I have done my research, and I know that it is very common for a child with Asperger's to also have characteristics of and often be diagnosed with ADHD.  I never wanted to label my child in this manner.  I feel like the diagnosis of ADHD is overused- I will admit that I often thought it was the way parents excused their "difficult children".  God has this experience brought me back down to earth.  There are some instances where I am correct.  And I do still believe that the diagnosis is overused.  But look at Jack.  He has many many difficult behaviors, yes.  Would I love to have a calmer child who doesn't constantly overwhelm me?  Of course.  That is not what is motivating me to seek some type of further intervention for Jack.  I am scared for him- I am so so proud of what a brilliant little boy he is.  He used to astound people at age two by identifying all of his letters and numbers, and naming a plethora of world war II fighter planes.  I have learned so much about bees, hermit crabs, orcas, etc from him.  And much as his fixations drive me a bit nuts, I wouldn't want him to be different- he's my little boy. 

I don't want him to fall behind when he has no reason to.  It would be one thing if he were challenged academically and needed to move at a slower pace for that reason.  But anyone who has ever met my son knows that this is NOT the case.  When he is listening, really listening, look out!  It goes back to what I was talking about with Nate the other day- not only does Jack learn, and thus far keep up with (if not surpass) his peers, but he does it through that "noise"- his sensory distractions, his fixations, his anxiety.  I can't help but imagine what he might be capable of if he wasn't constantly dealing with all of that. 

So I emailed his pediatrician, I forwarded the correspondence with the teacher to her.  She was not the least bit surprised- she may have a heavy patient load, but she has always treated the boys with a great deal of individual attention, has always emailed or called me back on the same day that I reach out to her.  And I feel like she has made the effort to "know" my children in a way that no other pediatrician we had ever did.  Such a huge comfort during this first uncertain and anxiety provoking year.  We are going in this Saturday to sit down and have a consultation with her.  All of us.  I am nervous.  I have a feeling I know what she is going to say- what she is going to suggest.  Meds.  This is a whole other can of worms that I was not ready to open- although I knew that it would come up sooner or later.

It is true when they say that parents know their kids better than anyone else.  I mean, ask my mommy friends, I had Jack "diagnosed" with, what did I call it?  Infantile OCD?  at age 14 months.  I KNEW.  And when I watch him sit and try to complete a task, I can tell that he is struggling really hard to focus. That it's almost painful for him.  Other family and friends, and even doting therapists of his have tried to chalk it up to his fine motor delay but that is not what this is.  I have the benefit of bouncing things off of our in-home daycare provider.  She is older and wiser, and was a teacher for many years.  AND she has worked extensively with Jack on tasks and fine motor activities. She has seen what I have, and experienced the frustration of a little boy held back by his own busy mind.  So I talked to her about this for awhile today- she talked about something I hadn't considered.  What this must do, or will do, to Jack socially.  Now I know that kids with Asperger's are supposedly not as cognizant of their peers, yada yada, and Jack may not yet notice when kids are annoyed at him or making fun of him, but he loves other people and wants to be around them in a way that I am very proud of.  I don't want to discourage this at all- I want to push him toward this.  I love the fact that he came home today and announced that his 3 best friends, Liam, Sean and Dakota had all died long ago and were now long-bone fossils.  A little morose yes, but awesome.  His inability to attend in school may not be effecting this too much yet, but it will.  It will affect all aspects of his life.  I want him to be happy.  So we are left with yet another tough decision.  Am I going to medicate my 5 year old?  I don't know.  I am opposed to it.  However, I am also opposed to making my child's life more difficult than it has to be, and I am also opposed to withholding something that might improve his quality of life greatly because of my own preconceived notions.  So I am going to go into the office and talk to the pediatrician armed with my research and with an open mind. 


  1. My son zack(14) is also on the spectrum.I have fought this long with no meds.. However, we have recently found "Bach " rescue remedies they are plant essecence and they do not interact with Any western medicine.. We have seen great improvement with his focus and ability to slow down by way of being able to seperate from all the distractions and another awesome thing that is working is EASe ( yes it is spelled that way) OT listening program as well as some pretty cool computer games. It helps their brain learn to deal with all those distractive noises and stimuli.....without the child knowing it really knowing it is even happening because the games are so fun... One other thing is a squishball or a special cushion he can sit on during circle or at his seat that gives feedback (sensory ) . Not all kids that seem ADHD are and I notice more and more that people on the spectrum present many,many other traits of other diagnosis.. But really don't have the markers for a "med worthy "diagnosis... I think your "Mom Insight" is spot on. Can't wait to hear what comes of all this at school.

    1. I forgot to mention...Zack could have benifited greatly from many intervention (Bach and such) back when he was in early schooling and but services were much different here where we live and fighting for them was a hard road.

  2. That sounds really interesting- I will have to google this stuff! Oh, and in terms of the writing (the comment on my other post) we have tried weighted pencils,etc. what seems to work best for him is a really really short pencil. gives him more me, I am open to ALL Suggestions!