Thousands of children all over the world live with Asperger Syndrome, a mild form of autism which affects the ways they relate to other people. Whilst not an illness, it can be extremely distressing, particularly for parents struggling to find support.
Should we be demanding more for these children?
EW : You have a child with Asperger Syndrome. How old was he when you first noticed his symptoms?
LC: We first thought there was something different when he was about 1 or 2 years old. He was late in walking and talking and with his coordination skills.
He could count to 100 by the age of 3 and he knew his alphabet. We thought he was clever for his age but on the other hand he was a bit clumsy.
EW: What about when he started school. Did the teachers notice anything different?
LC: The things the teacher started to notice was his willingness to learn and that he was ahead of most children in reading and maths but he was too easy to distract if he was not kept busy. At playtime he was very clumsy, for example he had problems catching a ball.
EW: Was there anything special that he enjoyed learning about?
LC: He took a big interest in subjects such as Pokemon, and the solar system and he also loved general knowledge.
EW: Living in Britain, what sort of help and advice was available to you?
LC: At first there was no help or support because of his age but we knew there was something not right and then when the teachers started to notice things we finally got referred to the school doctor. By this time he was 5 years old. At the age of 6 he was diagnosed with Asperger Syndrome but little help was available at first, all we were given was a few websites to look at.
As my son grew older he was always getting into trouble at school for shouting out or getting distracted, which is part of the Aspergers. He used to say it was his naughty part of his brain making him do it.
EW: That must have been difficult for you and your son.
LC: It was getting to the point that he knew he had a problem so we tried talking to the school about ways to explain the condition to my son. The school did not want us to do it because they thought he might play on it. At this time my son was about 8 and my wife and I had nowhere to turn to so we started researching and came across different books and websites.
EW: Did you find anything useful?
LC: A book by Luke Jackson (Freaks, Geeks and Asperger Syndrome) was different. It was written by a child and in a child’s terms. After reading the book we decided to try and see if my son was ready to learn about the condition, so one night at bedtime we gave the book to him and asked him to read it.
The idea was if he linked things this boy in the book was doing to things he was doing we knew he was ready. Within 10 minutes he came down and asked if he had Aspergers because this boy was like him. We knew he was ready so we started to try and explain more about the condition.