I’ve gone to home visit this morning. The mother is worried that her 13 year old son with High Functioning Autism/Asperger who refused to go to school in the past two months, may not be willing to talk about his school problems. Actually, her son is very transparent, perceptive and expressive that he tells me how he likes learning and sees school as an important place to learn things. He is admirable. He simply doesn’t know why he gets anxious and feels stomachache before he goes to school. In retrospect, he had that experience when he was in senior primary school. I am optimistic that he will develop some skills and personal resources to overcome his anxious experience about going to school. The ultimate goal should be how to manage anxious experience, enjoy learning and develop adaptive skills through school life.
Image source: http://www.evansincorporated.com
For the sake of family unity, we try to communicate our expectation and needs. The endpoint is understanding differences and reaching a resolution most acceptable to all. If, as family member, we don’t pay our effort to communicate and negotiate, how can we come to a win-win situation in the family? I think this is family education important to share with young people on the high functioning autism spectrum.
Image source: http://www.keyword-suggestions.com
During today’s Sunday mass, I was inspired by the Altar boy who was identified as Asperger’s since early childhood.
This boy used to sit near me when he attended Sunday mass, fidgeting quite a bit, giggling every now and then. Today, he acted as an Altar boy, attentively attending the mass and keeping his closed palm on his front chest through the Eucharist liturgy.
I could feel God’s presence through him. What touches me is the observation that the altar boy acted solemnly. While we know it well that most people with autism don’t connect well with other people, I find him connecting well with God.
Regarding the difficulties I find in daily life, I should offer these difficulties to God and become a medium of God’s love. Just like the altar boy.
“Social quota” refers to the amount of energy one affords in dealing with social interaction. To what extent is social interaction enjoyable? Actually it varies with your personality characteristics, mood and settings. For individuals with Aspergers or high functioning autism, interaction with people can drain their energy dramatically especially in topics not exactly of their genuine interests. It is, therefore, good to be aware of the variations of “social quota” of oneself before stretching too thin. For example, I was going out for a movie last night with 10 people. We had dinner and then movie. I found staying over for a chat after the movie a bit over my “social quota”. In order to maintain my emotion balance, I preferred going home to staying over after the movie. Self understanding and emotion wellbeing matters.
Image source: http://www.manipalblog.com
Brain science prevails. Here we got a movie about the functions and interaction of major emotions, long term memory, language, abstract thinking, imagination and so forth. I hope more children especially my Asperger students will increase their understanding about how their mind is affected by their emotion and memory. I like this movie because it merges science and art of story telling in such a comprehensible way. I shall recommend more friends to bring their children to watch Inside-out.
Image source: http://www.redbubble.com
Image source: http://www.zazzle.com
I am a late bloomer therefore I am well aware of the importance of early identification of talent and strengths. My genuine interests are concerned with serving the unique needs of young adults who are gifted Asperger because these passionate people affected by social impairments are more vulnerable and likely to underachieve than their non-Asperger peers. In schools, they have gone through various social and academic challenges including but not limited to, isolation, peers issues, bullying, teasing and various social difficulties, schoolwork and so on. Despite all the adverse situations, they can succeed in reaching their life goal if there is someone who is dedicated to support them. It is all about realizing their true potentials in transition to world of work and adulthood. As their advocate, I help them speak up, manage misunderstanding in interpersonal relationship, and reach their goal with courage.
Asperger syndrome is regarded as a mild form of autism without cognitive and language delay whereas classical autism and High Functioning Autism are associated with language delay. Classical autism involves intellectual disabilities. Asperger individuals with superior intelligence or above have strong quest for knowledge and meaning. They can develop an extensive fund of knowledge covering different subjects or areas with insight and depth at the age 6 or 7. While gifted Asperger may demonstrate expert knowledge about many things, their knowledge about self is definitely weak. With my experience in identification of the strength profile and personal characteristics of the gifted, I am able to help them build up self knowledge and competence to advocate for themselves especially in transition to adulthood/independent living.
I come across two fresh graduates living with Asperger syndrome. These two students are searching jobs. They are genuine, academically smart, idealistic, hardworking and motivated. I enjoy helping them reach out for more opportunities to demonstrate their character and competence. The helping process takes faith in these individuals and demands wide spectrum of creative problem solving skills. It is very fulfilling, regardless.