Friday, September 16, 2016

Andrew' Challenges becoming more obvious

The average age for a diagnosis of high functioning autism is between the age of 6-8 years old. I am very fortunate that I got Andrew diagnosed at the early age that he was. I often wonder since I was  proactive and didn't live in denial if it saved Andrew in a few areas.  Nonetheless, Andrew's diagnosis of high functioning autism is getting very noticeable as he gets older. Sadly, it is harder to find the correct therapies for him because he isn't severe enough for one on one ABA therapy yet he needs supports in so many ways.

Ever since Andrew has started school, there has been a decline in areas that he shouldn't be regressing in. His repetitive behavior is getting worse and I believe it is his way of dealing with his anxiety and his challenges. He wants to lock himself into his "obsession" so he doesn't have to deal with his challenges because he is smart enough to know that he has challenges.

 The main difficulty with Andrew is with social interactions. Naturally, this may not be obvious at young ages when social settings are simple. Think about how preschoolers play together – say, running around pretending to be superheroes. Now consider a group of 8 year olds – or teenagers! As the “rules” of social behavior get more complex, problems with social interaction become more obvious. I already see this becoming more obvious with Andrew now and he is almost five. A year ago at 3K preschool Andrew blended in much more than he is this year. Andrew wants to be social but he doesn't know how to and his challenges such as repetitive behavior, OCD, and his obsessions take over while he is trying to play with the other kids and it simply ruins the situation for him. If it is this much more noticeable this year what will it be like next year?!?!?

The other day at a play place here in our town, Andrew was attempting to play with two other kids. They were 3 and 4 yeas old so it was perfect. Andrew's challenges took over and the situation was soon ruined for Andrew and he withdrew from the two children and became upset.

The kids kept on going down a bounce house with three slides on it. Andrew went down the slide farthest on the right side the first times while the other two kids went down the other slides all at the same time. All the slides were right by each other. The kids loved it and they kept on wanting to go down the slides. Andrew was fixated on the slide he went down first. However, the other 2 kids kept on wanting to change up and take turns. Andrew wanted nothing to do with the other slides. He wanted the one he went down first and that one only. When the other kids went down "Andrews slide" he became very upset and soon he simply couldn't even talk nor play. He was done. His body couldn't adjust to what happened other than shutting down, so he just shut down and stopped playing with the other kids. He cried and cried. His day was ruined and he had a very bad rest of the day. He couldn't get past what happened. Therefore, he did what comforted him for the rest of the day and it was his repetitive behaviors.

This is just one example and sadly, situations like this happen daily for Andrew which is why he isn't a fan of school.
Andrew is like many kids who are high functioning where he has a difficult time talking to his peers but can get along with adults much better. In fact, I had a lady yesterday say, "He acts and talks like he is a 30 year old." Yes he does which is not funny to me. He needs to act and talk like a 5 year old but that just doesn't come naturally or easy for Andrew.
To recognize high functioning kids social difficulties, one may need to observe how they interact with their peers. Too often people judge or say they don't think anything is wrong because they don't see the child with their peers and that is the key to seeing their challenges.

All in all, I am very fortunate for the early diagnosis because if Andrew still didn't have the diagnosis like many kids with high functioning don't at his age, then we would have many more problems than what we have already. However, the older he gets the more challenges Andrew has and the more I realize the very long, tough road that Andrew and I have ahead of us. However, he has a Mommy that won't stop. We will just keep on looking for social therapies and other ways to help his OCD and repetitive behaviors because the more and more that he is out of his comfort zone ( in school setting with peers), the more and more these behaviors get worse.

Below is from a website that I came across today and I thought it explained things very well.

How Much Support Does a "High Functioning" Individual Need?

While few people with "high functioning" autism need help with toileting or basic hygiene, they may very well need a good deal of support in other settings.  For example, a very bright individual with severe sensory issues, anxiety, and perseveration might actually have a MORE difficult time in the workplace than a less intelligent individual with less anxiety and fewer sensory issues.

What's more, a "lower functioning" individual might spend most of their day in a supported setting where the possibility of dangerous interactions is almost zero. Meanwhile, the individual with "high functioning" autism may need to navigate a world of complex and hazardous situations. Who needs more support under those circumstances?

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