Meltdowns & Milestones

Since April is Autism Awareness month, I’m sharing a little of my daughter Ashlyn’s story.

On the day the headmaster walked the sixty-odd paces from his office to the pre-school, the first warning bells should have gone off in our heads. It wasn’t a route he walked all that often in his busy schedule, but that morning he set out to discover why the piercing screams he had been hearing for the last forty-five minutes weren’t stopping. The relentless little screamer turned out to be our four year old daughter Ashlyn and—although this may have been one of the first—it certainly was not the last of the meltdowns she would have at school. Continue reading

Asperger’s Syndrome in Girls and Women

Boys are four times more likely than girls to have Asperger’s Syndrome, the current statistics tell us. But are the stats correct? More and more experts in the field are questioning this ratio and arguing that girls may be going undiagnosed because they are better at camouflaging their social difficulties. It follows that, because their condition goes unrecognised, girls are not gaining access to the understanding and support they need. Continue reading

Diagnosing Asperger’s Syndrome—Confusion and Contradiction

Recently I had a discussion with a mom whose six-year old son is struggling emotionally and socially. An educational psychologist who has done play therapy with her son claims it is not an Autism Spectrum Disorder, but the mom says: “I really see so many of the Asperger’s traits in him. I know it might just be a label, but somehow it makes me feel better to have an “explanation” as to the way he acts, which is so different compared to my eldest and my neighbour’s kids.” Continue reading

Aspergers Children and Special Interests

It doesn’t seem quite right that a 41-year-old mom should know everything about a children’s book series called Ranger’s Apprentice, but I do. I know every title in this 11-part series by John Flanagan. I can recite character lists, the names of all the horses ever ridden by a Ranger (a kind of a medieval spy) and could probably even label a map of the nations surrounding Araluen, the setting of the books. I also know that there is a companion series called Brotherband Chronicles (Bravo Mr Flanagan!) Continue reading

The Struggles and Triumphs of Aspergers Parenting

Last week I heard a 12 year old boy called Richard give a talk about his own experience of having Aspergers. I was at a two-day conference organised by Autism South Africa, where there was the usual line-up of speakers with long lists of letters behind their names. Yet—amongst all these highly educated and well-spoken adults—this courageous young boy’s talk stands out for me. Continue reading