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Asperger Syndrome

My most recent diagnosis, and I think, the one which describes me the most accurately.

Reading from my report, I apparently have severe problems with social interaction and communication and 'theory of mind' - whatever that means.

Still, the calm, mechanical thinking of Aspergers I believe counters the symptoms of the personality disorder and schizophrenia, so it's not all bad!
'theory of mind' simply is the combination of empathy and reading other people's emotions. it says that if you do not have 'theory of mind' you find it difficult or impossible to understand other people have different thoughts, emotions, and intentions then you do.
(it's one of my favorite theories)

This guy, John Elder Robison, has to really interesting memoir about living with Asperger called: Look Me in the Eye and Be Different: Adventures of a Free-Range Aspergian with Practical Advice for Aspergians, Misfits, Families & Teachers,


As you know, or do not know, I teach teenagers with ASD.
Many of my students have Asperger's, they are the most fabulous peeps ever!
I love them and I love my job.
I'm here if you need any info or help with anything.
(I always thought you were an Aussie!)
Nothing as exotic a Oz, just boring old Bristol, England.

I do something I refer to as 'waggling'. One of it's forms is using a drawing pin to secure some knitting wool to a pencil, and flapping it about. When I 'go into my own world', this greatly helps sharpen the images in my mind.

The psychiatrist assessing me said this and similar is quite common is Aspergers. What is your experience with the people you teach?


Yes this is right!
I have a boy in my class, he calls his a 'tizz', it's a few ribbons sewn together and he flaps it in front of his eyes. I have a lot of 'flappers' in my class. One uses a straw, another uses the sticks from McDonalds balloons!
I tried it once but i gave me headache! Everything gives me headache tho!
What you're doing is called proprioception. This helps you to define your body in space, and provides feedback thro your muscles and joints. This 'stim' (self stimulation) is used to either increase stimuli or decrease or shut it out. This could be cos you're either over sensitive, under sensitive or both (sensory integration dysfunction)
We would never discourage our kids not to flap, it calms them, especially if they're excited.

I am very sensitive to sound. I am having problems with a neighbour at the moment, who plays loud and bassy Eminem for a couple of hours a day.

Luckily, it seems the council have to make some sort of effort at soundproofing my flat, though this will take time. The first step is filling in a couple of forms.


Hey, Kingo. I understand this one a tiny bit. My step-daughter was diagnosed with Asperger's 6 years ago. There is still a lot I need to learn.

Astra, I had no idea that's what your profession is! I am so grateful for people like you. You are a wonderful person. :hug:

My daughter doesn't flap or use a tizz, that I know of. She does this rocking back and forth thing. It's really frustrating to me to see all the hardships she has to go through. She is very beautiful and dresses really well, so other kids her age are attracted to her. But as soon as they start to play, they think that she's strange. She ends up losing friends over and over and over. Is there anything that I can do to help her maintain a good relationship with people. She's so sad a lot of the times. It's especially difficult, because she is about to turn 13, so her hormones are all changing. She does understand that her family accepts her and loves her. But I think she needs more than that.

Any ideas?
All I can think of is trying to get contact with other children who have Aspergers. I haven't had many friends either. My current one was the first for nine years. We have something in common(schizophrenia, psychosis and depression) which helped.


Having something in common always helps. It's like an instant bond. That's why I like you Zoid. I'm sorry that you have to go through all of this, but I am so happy that you have found a good friend.

That's great advice: finding other children with Asperger's could really help her. My girl has a couple friends that act similar to the way that she does. They haven't been diagnosed with anything that I know of, but they play with her and accept her. The trouble is that they live an hour away from us.

Our neighbors have a son with Turrets a year younger than my girl. They don't play together, but whenever they see each other, they hug and hold hands (completely innocently). I like to see that happen. Running into him makes her day.



This is typically how my step-daughter spends her time while the other kids are running around the yard playing games together.

She does this clapping thing a lot. Is that the same kind of thing as waggling?


Thanks for sharing the article, happy. I read it, which made me believe even more that my step-daughter was diagnosed correctly. There are a lot of similarities.

Before I stopped working, I was teaching children at an extremely challenging college-prep school for all ages 5-16. I have worked with a variety of gifted students, as well as students with Asperger's or other disorders. I have seen many of the functions/dysfunctions of each.

Like Astra, my heart always belongs to these students with disorders. I can't help but love them. :hug:
Not that I am disagreeing with any of the diagnoses above, but it is important to make sure that people who may be gifted are not mistakenly labelled with Asperger's:
Many people with Aspergers are gifted.


One thing that I have a really hard time with, is that she hurts animals. She hugs them too tight, or lays on them. I don't think she realizes it sometimes. We have a boxer because they have a high pain tolerance, but it still makes my dog mad to get mistreated. Luckily, Meg would never bite. She's a very good dog. Also, I think having a dog is very therapeutic. I just need to watch closely. When a tantrum starts, the dog gets yelled at or pulled around by her.

Can anyone shed some light on the subject? Do you ever do things like this, zoid? What are the thoughts going through your head at the time, if so? I know you said that you do a more self-destructive thing when upset. She does that too, but sometimes she lashes out.

Another thing that I'm at a loss for: In playtime, she always wants to play the victim. If kids are playing house, she is a daughter that gets kidnapped, tied to a railroad track, and left calling for help. When they play pirates, she always falls overboard, starts drowning, gasping for air. She acts these things out really well.


That's very interesting to me. Obviously you care about animals enough to not want to hurt them. But it happens anyway?

I wish I could get into her mind sometimes. She really is a sweet girl. I just wish the rest of the world could see it.

Thanks for your help. :hug: How long until they start soundproofing your flat? We have ear buds and an ipod to help my girl out when she struggles with sound sensitivity. The walls are pretty thick, too.


Thank you Jessi!

I'm sending you this, it will help with social interaction, we use Social Stories a lot in my school. The idea around it is that the child with an ASD knows that they are different and how to overcome anxiety. And that what they do is acceptable in society
The format is usually like this

My name is ..........
I have Asperger's Syndrome
Sometimes I appear anxious, sometimes I am quiet, sometimes I am sad
But this is ok
Sometimes I don't like noise and sometimes I like to be alone
And this is ok too




Thanks Astra. This part confuses me concerning my girl.

A lack of imaginative play or flexible thinking ..... there is a common lack of true interactive play with other children so that the children with Asperger Syndrome may focus upon individual activities and appear obsessed with some particular object or set of objects. They may seek to impose their choice of games upon others and may not be able to take part in "pretend" games.
In my previous post, I mentioned how she plays when she does join the group. This is one of her obsessions, for sure, and nobody joins in and "rescues" her when she does this victim play, but she definitely is using her imagination.

It may be useful to point out that she was traumatized when she was 2 years old, before I met her. She saw things a child should never see, and that many adults would even have a hard time with. I don't want to go into the details here. If knowing the details are relevant, let me know and I'll PM you the personal details.


Yes it is confusing!
For a firm diagnosis of an ASD the child has to meet all 3 of the diagnostic criteria - 'the triad of impairments'
impaired social ineraction, impaired communication and impaired imagination (flexibility of thought)
You should see the drama, plays and productions our students create!
I've also watched them interact socially in the playground.
But we also have lone individuals too, locked in their own little world!
It's ok Jessi, you don't have to reveal any personal details about your little un, they're probably unrelated, I don't believe trauma makes someone autistic, IMO
An ASD is defined as a developmental disorder, one which is from birth, with the onset usually from age 3. And as of yet, no theory is right, or wrong, they just don't know, bit like our Crohn's!


Everything from that article fits and seems very helpful to me. It's a lot to absorb and understand.

When she was younger, I made a daily schedule drawn out in pictures - easy to comprehend for a 3 year old - that she could refer to for every step of the day. It really helped her to get through most days without an episode. She knew that weekend days were done a little differently. Daddy would be home, big sister would be home, we would try a fun family activity, we would attend church, etc. Then as she got older, we had her teachers tape down a schedule to her desk so she wouldn't have any surprises. This was vital! We also spent a lot of time looking over pictures of people's faces to show emotions, and we'd talk about it. It really helped her. But it was time-consuming and sometimes exhausting to spend all this energy on her, while I had 3 other kids and a baby to take care of. I can't imagine all the energy you must use in teaching a whole class! You are my hero, Joan!


Aw thanks Jessi!

Yes we use schedules, timetables etc with our students based on the TEACCH principles

Any change to the timetable can be very disruptive! But we get there in the end, especially if we get prior warning!
a lot of our students are resistent to change.
You're doing great Jessi, you've already unknowingly introduced the TEACCH system!
If your little girl struggles with communication, PECS is another system that we use

sorry I'm hijacking this thread Zoid!


Yeah... so sorry, zoidy. :hug: We love ya! But perhaps this stuff could be useful for you, too? :)

Thanks for all the links, Joan. BIG help!!!
kingof, Absolutely-- many people who are gifted have Asperger's as well. The part that I was trying to stress is that the giftedness could also be a possibility. Some people don't know that people who are gifted can also have learning challenges. Obviously you know this.

Jessi, Your step-daughter is so fortunate to have you in her life. It makes me smile to think of how much you are teaching each other--despite the challenges you are facing with your own illness and her learning difficulties.

Astra, It also makes me smile to think of you out there helping 'your' children with their learning challenges. I know that you don't let them get away with anything just because they have their own differences and that your sense of humour absolutely must be your best tool in the box.

I'm so glad that I get to 'meet' such interesting and strong people on this forum. It helps me feel like I can conquer the small problems in my own life.


Super Moderator
A bit off topic...

Even though my son doesn't meet the criteria of an ASD I did for many years think that he may have been borderline due to his giftedness and his tendency to isolate himself and hang around the fringes. I am somewhat embarrassed to say that it wasn't until I started to research introversion that the pieces fell into place and I truly understood him.

Dusty. xxx
Warning--highjack continued...
Same here for my son. Now he's away at school though, he's come out of his shell. It's fun to watch.
I saw this thread awhile ago. I got this article in my email today. Thought I would post it here.

8 Tips for Parents of Kids with Asperger's Syndrome

Medical Author: Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD
Medical Editor: Roxanne Dryden-Edwards, MD

Children and teens with Asperger's syndrome often struggle with the social skills necessary for success in school and social settings. Tony Attwood, a psychologist and acclaimed expert on Asperger's syndrome, has written books that can help parents and teachers better understand the nature of this complex condition. He also offers proven tips and advice to help kids and teens with Asperger's to bolster their social skills.

Steps that parents may take to help their kids with Asperger's include the following:

1.Teach the child some practical skills to integrate into social settings. It may be helpful to practice introductory conversational tactics, like asking if he or she can join in. The child may benefit from practicing appropriate "openers" such as "Can you help me with this?" or "Can I play too?"
2.Encourage the child to look at what other children are doing. Many successful adults with Asperger's syndrome report that they have learned social skills by watching and emulating what others do in certain situations. Many kids find that it is easy to copy what the other children are doing, whether it is making eye contact with their playmates, listening attentively, participating in a game, or taking turns. This can be helpful even if they do not possess the necessary social understanding to intuitively know what to do in these situations.
3.The Social Stories technique is a method of creating short stories for everyday situations that help explain the social cues and appropriate responses for given situations. A social story could be constructed, for example, for entering the classroom in the morning and saying hi to the other students and teachers, putting one's supplies away, and hanging up coats. The Social Story is a detailed description of a routine event that includes basic social information, such as "I look at my teacher's face into his/her eyes and say good morning."
4.Teach the importance of eye contact. Kids with Asperger's may resist making eye contact with others. Eye contact is a skill that can be modeled and practiced at home.
5.Identify naturally-occurring situations when the child used appropriate social skills. For example, you can comment, "That was a very considerate thing to say" or "You were being very helpful to your siblings."
6.Model discussions of personal feelings and thoughts. It can be helpful to talk about how a specific situation made you feel and what you thought or felt during your day.
7.Teach metaphors and figures of speech. Kids with Asperger's can be very literal-minded and confused by common expressions. They often find that learning the meaning of confusing (to them) phrases such as "stepping up to the plate" is interesting.
8.Teach a "safety phrase" for kids to use when they are confused or unsure. It can be a simple explanation such as "I'm not sure what to do now" or "I'm not sure what you mean." Practicing this at home can help reduce the anxiety that kids may feel when they don't know what is happening.


Attwood, Tony. Asperger's Syndrome: A Guide for Parents and Professionals. London: Jessica Kingsley Publishers, 1998.

Attwood, Tony. The Complete Guide to Asperger's Syndrome. London: Jessica Kingsley Publishers, 2007.


Staff member
Astra--- you are an exceptional person with such dedication to "your special children"
Being unfamiliar with the Asperger syndrome,I have learnt so much from these posts today.
Jessi, you are a pretty special person too.
talents abound on this forum.
Zoid--just love your picture! sorry you got highjacked!
Just wanted to say- I was a gifted child, and am borderline Asperger's, I guess I was a lot like Dusty's son. Part of it is probably due to a lack of peer interaction- at primary school I was taught with children 2 or even 3 years older than myself (which is a huge gap at that age!). And I still didn't fit in, so I guess I went out of my way to be an obnoxious brat at times!

I have come out of my shell a little as I've matured but I still struggle with social interactions and communication, imagination less so. But things like needing routines and disliking change can fall under the 'imagination' part of the triad, so who knows?


Thanks happy and Trysha

@ Jessica, I've met Tony Attwood, he came to our school to do a talk on the special people!

Here's a good story. A past student of ours always felt that she was different, couldn't cope with how she felt etc
After a lot of hard work with her during our Social Skills lessons she embraced her Asperger's; to the point of wearing T-shirts with 'I've got Asperger's, what's your problem?
She is 21 now and at Uni studying, has many friends and is so happy!

BTW, I thought my son was autistic too! Turns out he's just a geek! ha ha
seriously tho, he didn't speak or interact til he was 5. I took him to speech therapy, turns out Jessica was doing all the speaking for him! Typical lazy lad!
Sorry lads, but I believe that all males are on the spectrum (somewhat)(to a certain degree) (oh God! I can hear the backlash)

Always remember this
Not all Asperger's are trainspotters but
all trainspotters are Asperger's!
from 'Martian in the playground' by Claire Sainsbury (well recommended)


Hiya Rebecca, hope you're well?

The imagination part of the Triad is also known as flexibility of thought or rigid in your thinking. So, yes resistance to change falls under this category (if that helps any)


I just finished reading The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime by Mark Hadden. It's an amazing and observant book about a 15 year old with autism and savant syndrome. The character's a lot more severe than my daughter, but it still gave me some insight into her mind. I highly recommend the book! And if you feel like reading it by December, then you can jump into the book club thread. :)
Not too bad, thanks Joan!

I've read the curious incident, and freaks and geeks. And seen Luke's documentary. All very interesting!

I think I pretty much fit the criteria. Not sure whether I did as a child- I was certainly very difficult though! But interestingly, I am more 'normal' on the antidepressants. I mean, I'm still as socially adept as a rhinocerous in a tutu. But I don't get as upset and panicky, I often misinterpret things people say and I can just shrug it off rather than fretting about it. So while I function as an Aspie, I'm not entirely sure about the root cause.

I have wondered about taking it further and seeking a diagnosis, but at the moment I've had enough of doctors!

By the way, have any of you heard of the Autism Quotient by Baron-Cohen et al? It's available on the App store and the internet. It might seem like a gimmick, just another of those stupid pop psych tests, but it does have a solid theoretical background and was thoroughly tested. Baron-Cohen was (is?) the leading researcher into ASDs 10 years or so ago when I was at uni.
Omg! I just saw this thread and it is amazing. Joan you are my hero. I work with all spectrums of special eduation students, i am a teacher for the SUCCESS program in NJ, we get most of our students from the local high school that are placed out for behavior or emotional problems, so we get the gang weapon fight related behavior kids and also the aspergers, schizo, emr and sld students and they get all mixed together. I have a classroom of 10, 10th and 11th grade students, with one other teacher. I absolutely love my job...... and I am always drawn to my ED kids, they just have my heart! Thanks to wonderful people like you Joan, you are great!


Ha Ha never been called a hero before! A mug, yeah!
Thanks sha, we have whole mixture too, very hard work, isn't it?

@Rebecca, glad you're ok hun
Simon Baron-Cohen has also been to our school!
Did you know he's Sacha Baron-Cohen's cousin?
The Ali G bloke!
When he came to speak to us about autism all we asked about was his cousin.
There was some speculation that Sacha was in fact Simon's brother, but he wouldn't talk about it.
Joan, I definitely agree that its hard work but 99% of the time sooooo worth it! After 8 years I still have a hard time not taking it home with me, thats my 1% negative.