The ABCs of Asperger's Syndrome: An A-to-Z Guide to Understanding the Symptoms of Asperger's

Hyperactive, Impulsive, Jokes, Kindergarten

H Is for Hyperactive

Hyperactivity is a common symptom for kids with Asperger's. They might run around the playground by themselves for no apparent reason; go without sleeping through the night; talk incessantly on a subject that interests them; shout repetitive words; tap hands, feet, pencils, etc., constantly; and blurt out words or sounds at inappropriate times.

Nick: Sometimes I make noises like a cat or dog; spin my pencil, or kick the furniture while I'm thinking. I have no idea I'm doing this until someone tells me to stop. Sometimes I blurt things out; my brain just needed to say things right then and it didn't ask for my permission.

I Is for Impulsive

Impulsive behavior can be embarrassing for parents in social settings. Kids have an inability to see things from another person's perspective. By age 9, other children can usually control their impulse to blurt out, interrupt, make rude noises, or hide under tables. As children with Asperger's grow up, these social faux pas will become a bigger problem. Parents should role-play with them about socially acceptable behaviors. Inform everyone -- relatives, friends, neighbors, and teachers -- of your child's condition and what his behavior might look like so they can be prepared and supportive.

Nick: When I was in third grade, I asked my grandma, who is a teacher, to visit my school and talk to my classmates about Asperger's. After the talk, kids treated me nicer and were more understanding because they found out I was not just being a brat or a baby.

J Is for Jokes

Some kids with Asperger's have brains wired for facts and they absorb information literally; they often have difficulty with understanding humor or playing pretend. They love information, especially on topics they like, but they can't tell when you're being serious and when you're being humorous.

Nick: I don't get jokes or understand when you're kidding. I have difficulty noticing the expressions on your face or the different tones of your voice. I usually respond by saying, "Really"? I become confused because I think you mean every word you say. Please tell me when you're just being silly.

K Is for Kindergarten

Kindergarten is especially difficult for a child with ASP. Everything is new and unfamiliar -- teachers, classmates, noise, rules, daily routines -- and there is no quiet place to go. This all adds up to a lot of confusion. To ease a child's transition, make an appointment to meet with the teacher and to see the room before the first day. Bring along information on Asperger's and ask if there's a daily routine. Better yet, plan a playdate with one or two classmates before school starts so the child will know someone in the room.

Nick: I couldn't wait to go to kindergarten. When I got there, I was surrounded by lots of kids I didn't know and by lots of noise. I felt like I couldn't breathe. My teacher thought I had a behavior problem and yelled at me every day until my grandma and my mom talked to the school principal. The principal must have talked to my teacher because she was nicer to me after that, and I started to like school again.

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