X-ray, Young, Zone
X Is for X-ray
Doctors are conducting research on patients, using X-rays and scans of the brain in action, to figure out the causes of Asperger's. They have already noticed more activity in many different parts of the brain of an ASP patient who is performing the same tasks as a non-ASP patient. Scientists seem to agree that autism spectrum disorders are genetic problems and are trying to isolate the affected genes.
Nick: If you had X-ray vision you would see that my brain works differently than yours. Many parts are working at the same time and sending me lots of messages while yours are sending only a few messages to one part of the brain. I saw this demonstrated on the Discovery Channel.
Y Is for Young
Diagnosing a child with Asperger's can be difficult because there is no medical test, like a blood test. All children should be screened for developmental delays during regular well-baby visits, specifically at 18 and 24 months. Youngsters with a sibling or another family member with Asperger's are usually at a higher risk, and boys are at a higher risk than girls. The younger a child is diagnosed, the sooner he can get the necessary help to be successful.
Nick: Mom said she had never heard of Asperger's until the doctor told her I might have it when I was very young. She knew something was wrong but didn't know the problem. She read a lot about Asperger's, and then some of the things I didn't do as a baby -- like look her in the eye, follow her finger when she wiggled it, try to hold myself up -- made more sense to her.
Z Is for Zone
When a child with Asperger's is deeply involved in a project or on the computer, it is difficult to get her out of the zone to focus on you. Often, when a child is in the zone, she can say things out loud when no one else is around. Setting a time limit, taking required meal and bathroom breaks, and giving a 10-minute warning can help avoid problems.
Nick: I usually set a timer so I know when to stop building Legos or playing computer games. I get so involved in what I'm doing that I don't realize how long I've been doing it. Once I played Legos for six hours and told mom I wasn't done when she said it was time to stop. When mom showed me the clock, I was surprised. Sometimes I concentrate so hard on what I'm doing that I don't even know someone is talking to me. You might have to tap my shoulder. I'm not ignoring you -- I don't even hear you.
Josephine (Jo) Mele is the Emeritus College Executive Director of Diablo Valley College. She is the mother of two children and grandmother of four. She has researched Asperger's Syndrome extensively since her grandson's diagnosis.
Copyright © 2012 Meredith Corporation. Reviewed and updated 2013.
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