Sunday, January 5, 2014

First Signs Of Asperger's In Girls

We've said it a million times..."If I knew then what I know now...."  I've said it a bazillion times myself. Reading all this about Asperger's and myself and my child, I've popped myself in the forehead so hard in those V8 moments....or as Oprah would put it ....those A-Ha Moments.

Below is a list from a psychologist who specializes in development disorders, Autism and related disorders. I've added my 'two cents' worth along with it.

The parallels are insane...and if I only knew then what I know now....

1. Intense emotions: in particular separation anxiety, stress, anxiety or distress. This is coupled with an inability to be comforted by affection, distracted by a toy or change in situation or by discussion or conversation with an adult.

My daughter has always had anxiety...still does to this day. Separation anxiety..even in the mornings going to school...was almost next to impossible. School drop offs mostly ended with me literally walking her to the school and leaving her crying in the classroom. It killed me. KILLED ME. I had no choice as a single working mother.

2. Sensory Sensitivities: there are most often sensory sensitivities involving vision, hearing, taste, smell, touch, balance and/or movement. This is known as sensory processing disorder (SPD).

My daughter has sensitivity to sunlight and noises. She always said as a little girl, "The sun makes me sleepy, mommie." Meaning she couldn't keep her eyes open :) If there are too many noises, she'd meltdown. Now she announces the fact. Any tags on clothing was always removed before she wore anything. I had to check how everything felt against her scratchies, no weird seams.

3. Coping with Change: an inability to cope with change or a resistance to change.

My child never coped with change well. Routine. Routine. Routine. Routine is the way of life.

4. Language skills: atypical or unusual traits in terms of the development of language skills.

My child had her own words for things - sopa was soda...spider wacks was spider webs and so on. For a long time I was her interpreter.

5. Speech: may not typically be delayed, however there may be a loudness or softness in the voice, a monotone, and/or a foreign accent.

My child is very soft spoken. She was never delayed in speech, but always so very soft spoken.

6. The social use of language: may be apparent in that the linguistic profile can often include semantic-pragmatic difficulties, so that the pedantic speech may be apparent are noticeable eccentricities with the “art of conversation”

Knowing what to say and when to say it is/has been an issue. She notices is and recognizes it and we work on it together.

7. Hyperlexia: may have taught herself to read before formal education. ASpiengirls often have an intense interest in reading and develop an advanced vocabulary.

One thing my Aspiengirl found an interest in way later in life. She's 17 now, but didn't really get interested in reading a few years ago.

8. Play: adults may notice the aspiengirl may not want to play with others or she may direct others play, rather than play in a reciprocal and co-operative manner. She may tell adults that she finds her peers play confusing, boring or stupid. She may prefer to play on her own, with her animals/toys or with boys.

My baby girl always played alone or with her sister. But I would find her in the middle of the night in their closet (which was huge so I made it a playroom) playing away.

9. Interests: an aspiengirls interests is usually different to other girls, in its intensity and quality, rather than the actual interest itself. Often, play can be observed as more of complex set-up’s, organizing, sorting, collect or grouping items rather than actually playing with them. She may be observed re-enacting a social scene form her own experiences at daycare.

My girl is a bug collector, a sticker collector....oh how I wish she was an organizer and a sorter...that's me, Mama Aspie.

10. Conventionality: Aspiengirls are born “out of the box” and may be observed playing unconventionally. Some prefer Lego, the sandpit, trucks or cars. Many think in different or unconventional ways, asking continual and exhausting amount of questions pertaining to how things work, why things are the way they are, or why people do or say certain things.

I just took this as 'normal' in our home. My oldest (who is not on the spectrum) preferred stacking and organizing and legos. Both were filled with questions on the daily!

11. Appearance and clothing: Young Aspiens may look more toyboyish in appearance or ultra princess-like, usually preferring clothing that is comfortable. She may want the tags cut out of her clothes and complain about the seams in her socks. She may prefer to wear the same outfit day in and day out. Some Aspiens experience gender confusion very early, expressing a desire to be the opposite gender.

My little aspie didn't want to match, she always wanted to be still rings true to this day. Although now she's more fashion conscious, but comfort is a huge plus.

12. Imagination: Aspiengirls often escaping into fiction, books, fantasy worlds, fairies, unicorns, ponies, pegasus, talking to imaginary friends or imaginary animals.

Yup, yup and yup.

13. Writing: Aspiengirls are often interested in writing and write their own stories on sticky notes, journals, fiction at an early age.

My aspie was always so wonderful at story telling/writing. I remember in elementary school one year her teacher just gooshed over the stories she would write....while sometimes she didn't follow the assignment correctly, she was a wonderful imagioneer.

14. Nature and animals: Aspiengirls have an intense love for nature and animals, often preferring them over people. They have an empathic and intuitive realtionship and understanding of animals rather than people.

We've both said that we prefer animals to people. Always.

15. Gifts and Talents: Most, if not all Aspiengirls have gifts and talents ranging from singing (perfect pitch), art, (drawing, painting and other mediums), languages, acting and performing, dancing, writing, to name a few.

Art, art, art. She could always be kept 'busy' in coloring books and painting books. She now has her own 'studio' set up in the spare bedroom where she retreats to paint when she's feeling stressed, down or anxiety ridden.

16. Determination: A strong will, determination, stubbornness and/or competitiveness

Stubborn as a mule...we both are.

17. Facial expressions and emotions: A discrepancy between facial expression and feelings. For example, a “fake” smile, intense facial expressions or lack of, or inappropriate facial expression to the situation.

The fake smile...that is something I've always seen on her as a sign...a beacon....of disparity in social situations.

18. Attention Issues: Parents may have taken her to a hearing specialist due to not responding to her name, being “in her own world” and/or thinking she may be deaf.

This was never an issue....she didn't always respond to her name, but I never thought she was hearing impaired.

19. Hyperempathy: May be very sensitive to social justice issues, abuse towards animals, nature or the elderly. May experience the emotions of others.

As she's gotten older, she's very vocal about women's issues, gay rights and racial issues. Very vocal. Debating with her doesn't always go well, because in some arenas we don't agree 100% she doesn't want to hear my side. LOL

20. Intuitive: May tell you and/or know about events, people that cannot possible know about. She “knows” certain things without knowing how she knows these things.

I got nothin' on this one.

21. Curiosity and Questions: May ask an endless array of questions that at times, cannot be easily answered.

If I knew all this then, she could have been diagnosed earlier, I feel. She was diagnosed at ten years old.....I was also at the same time, I was 36 years old. SO many questions answered, regardless. 

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