Friday, May 16, 2008

Life on the Spectrum

Asperger's Syndrome
Does not define my living
I'm a unique boy

Lil' Expert is our chess pro, math wizard, information gatherer, computer genius, dog loving, first born son. 

Lil' Expert has all of these terrific qualities and he also has Asperger's Syndrome, which is part of the Autism Spectrum. He is in good company.  It's likely Albert Einstein had Asperger's, and so did Thomas Jefferson. Bill Gates is also said to have it.

Lil' Expert was diagnosed when he was four years old, but he has always been a special boy. At age one he collected balls of every shape and size and spent most of his time lining them up, ordering them, and organizing them. Later, he moved on to hangers and then toothbrushes. As he has grown his collections have become more typical like Star Wars toys and Pokemon cards.

Lil' Expert is known to tell it like it is! On a recent shuttle ride to the county fair the driver was smoking and Lil' Expert immediately told him the hard facts and consequences of smoking. Last year, on his T- ball baseball team, he played catcher and his coach had to get after him for "trash talking"  the kindergartners on the other team during batting. A couple of previous posts "Don't Ask"  and "Collections" reflect Lil' Expert at his finest! We are continually working on his social skills.     

Asperger's is a neurodevelopmental disorder that affects early brain development. Often causing communication difficulties and problems with social interactions. In preschool, Lil' Expert preferred to do his own thing and it was challenging for him to interact with others 

Characteristics include:
  • Deficiencies in social skills
  • Difficulties with transitions or changes, preference for sameness
  • Obsessive routines
  • Repetitive motions
  • Restricted interests
  • Difficulty reading nonverbal cues
  • Sensory issues
  • Difficulty with space and boundaries    
Lil' Expert has made tremendous gains. He is at the top of his class in first grade. He has an awesome memory and excels in math. He amazes me with the words he uses and his ability to hold onto facts. He continues to get speech therapy and occupational therapy, but he has made great improvement in social development and has many friends.
  
This last month, Lil' Expert qualified and attended the Arizona State Chess Championships. Here is what his coach had to say about him in a flier to the school:
"Congratulations to Lil' Expert, 1st grader, as he represented the school in the K-1st grade section at the Arizona State chess championships. He was able to win two games plus a drawn (tie) game out of seven games he played against the best players throughout the state. Super Job!"  

Lil' Expert we are so proud of you. You are a unique gift to us. We love you!

"You don't raise heroes, you raise sons. And if you treat them like sons, they'll turn out to be heroes even if it's just in your own eyes."  - Walter M. Schirra, Sr.

CNN recently featured a day of stories all related to Autism and recent developments about Spectrum Disorders. They also have links listed to Autism information websites. Check it out here:


It's Haiku friday!  Check out other Haiku poems at Playgroups Are No Place For Children and 

11 comments:

Old Drifter said...

Laura

What a beautiful and informative story. Keep
up the great work. I look
forward each day to read the next episode.

Lisa Snell said...

Go Lil' Expert! We love you too!

Aunt Lisa and the Snells

Teresa said...

Love the new blog design and your post on Lil' Expert is wonderful. Such a bright boy!

I first heard about Asperger's through an article in the New York Times Magazine: http://www.nytimes.com/library/magazine/home/20000618mag-asperger.html . I was interested in the intense focus and linguistic powers that mark the syndrome. Sometimes I wonder if the most successful people had Asperger's, so when you said Bill Gates might have it, I thought "Of course!".

Thank you for sharing. Can't wait to hear about your other kids. :)

maggies mind said...

Great 'ku, and educational, too! Plus, I scrolled down, and you have such an adorable family :)

wright said...

This was wonderful. Congrats to Lil Expert. He sounds great! Happy Friday!

Joyce said...

Thanks so much for stopping by my Friday Haiku to comment! I appreciate that.

Also, I very much enjoyed your post about your oldest son, and about Asberger's Syndrome. It sounds like you and your husband are guiding him with wisdom. :)

the planet of janet said...

awesome!

Elle said...

Great story - I like it!

Mom24 said...

Thanks for sharing your wonderful story. I am continually amazed to hear the real stories behind different diagnoses and learn how different reality is from what you would expect. Thanks for educating me.

Marg said...

Love-love this storytelling. What awesome parents!

Christina said...

Awwwwwwwwww...
I am very familiar with Aspergers. These kids are amazing! Aren't they?!