Category Archives: Autism Spectrum

Status of the new order

Day one, the boys did mostly well with the lack of electronics and the increased focus on schoolwork.   They were, however, in different places, and thus didn’t have a chance to fight, and had serious one-on-one focus.  Still, neither finished their work completely.

Day two (Friday) went less well.   The Captain called me at work twice to complain about having to do “so much work”.   Frustrated, I allowed them to stop where they were at 1pm or so, and said I would work with them later.

Friday night, The Admiral took them out for a board game / card game night at the library, which apparently went well until The Captain did not win a match and thought he was being ganged up on in the game by the other kids.  He called and asked me to pick him up, an hour before the end.   He was frustrated and angry, but it didn’t last too long. 

Saturday, both boys were very good in the morning, very cooperative and positive.  We had a cousin’s birthday party to attend, and they both were rather well behaved, save for one small moment of fighting. 

When we got home, instead of rushing home to use their 1/2 hour of electronics for the week (which I had actually upped to 1 hour because they had been pretty good), they played outside for a long time with the hose, spraying each, without fighting a bit. 

When it came time for electronics, they weren’t sure what to do with their time because the time was so short.  They used the computer a bit, and shared some time watching a show on Netflix.   They didn’t whine or complain much when the time was over.

Later, we had the grandparents over unexpectedly for dinner, so we all rushed to straighten the house, and then they had a great rest of the evening.   They also watched an episode of a documentary show about birds (David Attenborough – The Life of Birds) while the grown-ups were talking.

Bedtime was easy with the assistance of the melatonin, and instead it was the older brother who kept coming out of his room with this excuse or another.   We realized that because of The Captain’s fiery tantrums and overall stress inducement, we often overlook the mild bad behavior of his brother, because it is a welcome relief.

Sunday went almost as well.   The Captain woke up early and washed dishes and otherwise cleaned happily, without being asked to.   I can’t tell if he really did it to be nice, or if he was trying to get some measure of electronics back.   After his morning risperdone nap, he got stuck in the mindset of whining “There’s nothing to do!” etc. etc.

We managed to keep busy the rest of the day with other distractions, and more documentaries, and actually watched a movie with them in the evening.   The Captain did not want to go to bed, but did not put up much of a fight.


New Order

The Captain has been varying in mood and irritability.  We can definitely say he is better than he was before the risperdal, but he still has his moments, and quite a few of them.

On Tuesday, we discovered that he has been blackmailing his brother for an undetermined time (a while).   Apparently he would hold any slipped swearing or other indiscretions against him, promising to tell me about it unless his brother lied to me about the fact that they were both playing with a certain neighborhood kid they weren’t supposed to be around.

Both of them lost the privilege of independence – the ability to go to the park or convenience store, etc., by themselves.  For the blackmailing portion, I said we would talk to the psychiatrist since we had an appointment the next day anyway.

The Doctor prescribed a new regimen for discipline.   No more punishments!   Really, it was just a re-wording of discipline.  He said that they have the clothes on their back and three square meals a day, and everything else is a privilege they need to work for.   Also, no video games/TV/etc. during the week – only on Saturday (not Sunday), and only if they’ve earned enough points, and even then, only for a limited time.  He suggested a half hour.

Also, he said to lock up food treats, so we got a lock for the fridge and for one cabinet door.

The Captain took this surprisingly well.  Amazingly well.  I think it must be because it was coming from a higher authority source in his mind – The Doctor.  His brother made a scowly face, but accepted it well, too.

The part about points was a little vague, so we stayed up late last night trying to determine what gets points, and how many points they are worth, and how many points are needed for the electronics privileges on Saturday.

The Doctor also recommend a two-week reward and a four-week reward if the previous time was judged to be good… I’m not sure how that fits in with the point system exactly yet.

What The Doctor doesn’t realize, because it’s never come up, or we’ve avoided bringing it up, is that these boys are oversaturated in video games and computers and movies.  Up until this point, they’ve largely been unschooled, due to the problems we’ve had with The Captain trying to implement a true curriculum.

Today, they begin with a more regimented schedule, with Spectrum workbooks for math, science, writing, vocabulary, and geography, as well as multiplication and division flash cards, and U.S. state flash cards.   We also got a game that teaches about human anatomy.   This is not the ideal curriculum – this is the cheap curriculum to get them used to structure.

For fear of them literally not having anything to do, and rebelling from the whole system out of boredom, we also got them new lego sets and some playing cards.

Last night, The Captain spent the night at Grandma’s, who has been apprised of the situation, while The Explorer stayed home.   Each will have their chores and schoolwork separately, and perhaps that will help ease them into this transition.

Meanwhile, The Doctor added guanfacine back into The Captain’s regimen, starting a 1mg for the first week, followed by 2mg the next, 3mg the next, and finally 4mg.     Thus, he is now on 3mg of risperdal + 1mg of guanfacine, and 5mg of melatonin at night.

I’m at work, but look forward to hearing how their days went.

Asperger’s Syndrome Symptoms

In reviewing a checklist of symptoms for Asperger’s Syndrome:

Asperger’s Symptoms that match The Captain

  • failure to develop peer relationships appropriate to developmental level
  • lack of social or emotional reciprocity
  • apparently inflexible adherence to specific, nonfunctional routines or rituals
  • stereotyped and repetitive motor mannerisms (e.g., hand or finger flapping or twisting, or complex whole-body movements)

Asperger’s Symptoms that do NOT match The Captain

  • marked impairment in the use of multiple nonverbal behaviors such as eye-to-eye gaze, facial expression, body postures, and gestures to regulate social interaction
  • a lack of spontaneous seeking to share enjoyment, interests, or achievements with other people (e.g., by a lack of showing, bringing, or pointing out objects of interest to other people)
  • encompassing preoccupation with one or more stereotyped and restricted patterns of interest that is abnormal either in intensity or focus
  • persistent preoccupation with parts of objects

On The Spectrum

During the in-patient program at the hospital, one of The Captain’s new acronyms was PDD, or pervasive development disorder.  The definition of this is sufficiently vague, and includes Autism and Asperger’s.   The psychiatrist did not go into any specifics at the time, so I can only assume his lack of specifics means that he meant PDD-NOS, pervasive development disorder, not otherwise specified.

Pervasive Developmental Disorder – Not Otherwise Specified, or PDD-NOS, for short, is a condition on the spectrum that has those with it exhibiting some, but not all, of the symptoms associated with classic autism. That can include difficulty socializing with others, repetitive behaviors, and heightened sensitivities to certain stimuli.

There seems to be some disagreement as to whether PDD-NOS is the same thing as HFA, high-functioning autism.  And, I’m not sure which label I prefer, as PDD-NOS sounds too vague and sounds like a developmental problem, where HFA, while having the stigma of autism, includes the phrase high-functioning, which sounds nicer to me.

The current psychiatrist has said he is on the autism spectrum and has referred to him as high functioning autism.   Perhaps it would be best to say that he has Autism Spectrum Disorder.

The Doctor had us go through a checklist and he scored high on it.  If I recall, you had to match 12 of the traits listed to be considered, and he matched like 15 or more.  Below are some examples, but the actual checklist we went through was much longer and more detailed.

Interestingly enough, his dad, The Admiral, matched several of the checklist criteria as well.

Austistic Symptoms / Traits That Match The Captain

  • Have trouble understanding other people’s feelings or talking about their own feelings
  • Repeat words or phrases over and over (echolalia)
  • Give unrelated answers to questions
  • Get upset by minor changes
  • Have obsessive interests
  • Flap their hands, rock their body, or spin in circles
  • Have unusual reactions to the way things sound, smell, taste, look, or feel
  • Does not understand personal space boundaries
  • Avoids or resists physical contact
  • Is not comforted by others during distress
  • Hyperactivity  (very active)
  • Impulsivity (acting without thinking)
  • Short attention span
  • Aggression
  • Causing self injury
  • Temper tantrums
  • Unusual eating and sleeping habits
  • Unusual mood or emotional reactions
  • Lack of fear or more fear than expected

Austistic Symptom / Traits That Do NOT Match The Captain

  • Not respond to their name by 12 months of age
  • Not point at objects to show interest (point at an airplane flying over) by 14 months
  • Not play “pretend” games (pretend to “feed” a doll) by 18 months
  • Avoid eye contact and want to be alone
  • Have delayed speech and language skills
  • Avoids eye-contact
  • Prefers to play alone
  • Does not share interests with others
  • Only interacts to achieve a desired goal
  • Has flat or inappropriate facial expressions