Autism & ADHD connection?

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Is There More to the Connection?

You may already know that I have been diagnosed with Attention Deficit Disorder.  I was diagnosed about 8 years ago.  That revelation changed my life.  All these things that seemed "wrong" about me finally made sense.  I always wondered why I wasn't able to live successfully the way other people so easily seemed to. I always messed everything up it seemed.  The fever pitch was when I was put on academic probation during my first college stint.  I was smart; I always tested well.  But trying to pass college classes?  Impossible.

I began to read, read, and read up some more on ADD as well as work on behavior modification.  That helped immensely.  Once I understood how my brain worked, I went on to be very successful in the military as well as college. 

Autism comes roaring in

Then Kekito came along in 2007.  My son progressed beautifully until he was close to a year old.  Suddenly, and slowly at the same time, I realized he was "different".  At first I thought, "OK, he has ADD".  Then it became more apparent that it was actually Autism.

I didn't know much at the time about Autism.  The more I learned, the more I pondered the possible connection to ADD/ADHD.  There were so many symptoms of Autism that seemed to overlap with my very own diagnosis.  So much so, to the point that I found myself googling "Asperger's in adults".  I started to wonder if maybe it was Asperger's I had after all.  But I knew that couldn't be because I was all too clearly able to empathize with others (Theory of Mind).  That is the singular difference I've noticed.  That, and the fact that in Autism the symptoms seem tenfold at least.

Day in and day out I wish that I could find some research on the possibility of a connection.  I can't help but wonder if ADD is on the highest functioning end of the spectrum.

These are my reasons for wondering:

- They are both neurological disorders that likely have strong genetic factors.
- Both affect the production and levels of various facets of body chemistry.
- Both affect sleeping patterns/behaviors.
- Both affect the ability to relate to others socially.
- Personally, I have an incredibly difficult time understanding sarcasm (just as one would with Autism).
- Both have various sensory processing problems.
- Personally, I have a remarkable memory for various types of facts.
- From what I have seen so far, both are very visual learners/thinkers.

I could go on about each of these topics- but I think that's better left for another day, another post.

I really hope someday I can find some sort of research either linking the two together, or conclusively setting them apart.  Until then, I'll keep on wondering. 

What do you think about the possibility?

Autism IQ Part II

What a day it was yesterday!  I was so exhausted by the end...

We had our eligibility meeting with the public school.  After all of K's evaluations and the endless waiting, we were going to find out if he qualified.  I was so anxious, and excited all day.  A real tight bundle of nerves, that was me non stop.

We got to our meeting and one by one the evaluators crushed my hope of K receiving services.  They all agreed that they could not recommend services because he was "too smart".  Wow... that sucks.  Despite the fact that his self help skills and communication skills were sub par; his academic IQ was exactly on the line separating "average" and "high average".  Because Kekito was, "very smart, even for a neurotypical child", then he did not need special education classes.

I stifled my tears for as long as I could.  I wanted to just get up and walk out.  I hated watching each person tell me with a long face that my son was "academically too far progressed".  It was maddening to think that it could keep him from getting the kind of help and skills training he needs.

(Let me explain real quick:  Kids "age out" of Early Intervention at 3.  If they don't qualify for special education, then they don't have an opportunity again for services until Kindergarten at age 5.  An *awesome* two year gap in which to regress, or make little progress.)

The last two people to speak at our "round table discussion" were K's  social worker Sarah, and I.  She told them that if they didn't accept him because he "knew too much" that it would be unfairly punishing the both of us for working so hard this whole last year (can I get an AMEN!?).

Then it came to me.  They asked, "Why do you think he needs this if his IQ is so high?  What academic need could there possibly be?"

My response went something like this:
"He has Autism, so he needs to be in an environment where he can be socialized with his peers.  He needs specialists to help him progress in all the areas where his IQ was lacking.  If I send him to a regular preschool, they won't likely be equipped to handle his temperament.  They don't choose to work specifically with special needs children.  They won't necessarily have the patience to handle a child like K.  Nor do they positively have the specialized skills to help him the way he needs to learn.  I'd rather keep him at home than chance those things.  Kekito needs to learn especially how to communicate with his peers.  He is dying to make friends.  He desperately wants to be included in activities.  When he plays with other kids...."

And then it happened.  My mind played the videos in my head of all the times kids pushed him, kicked him, or screamed in his face to "Go away!  Leave me alone!"  And his oblivious response was always to hug them more, chase them more, love them more.  It is probably the hardest thing I have come across so far with Autism  It is the thing that devastates me the most.  Endless tears have been shed at those sights.

With my face soaked, voice and body vibrating inside; I continued, "When he plays with them they scream at him, they shove him, they kick him.  And all he does is hug them, lay on them, or smile an inch from their face.  He is relentless... and so are they.  It is devastating to see.  At some point he will realize that they can't stand him.  He needs the chance now to learn to fit in."

My, how a desperate woman blubbering like an idiot must guilt people.  It absolutely was not my intention.  I tried so hard to hold it together.  But I simply couldn't.  I felt like the BIGGEST moron, but it was just that painful.

Luckily, his new teacher was the first to point out that she thought that was an important skill for academic learning.  Then one by one the evaluators all started piping in with phrases like, "Oh, yeah, yeah, that's important!  I think that's an academic need.  They need to fit in with their peers to learn.  Yeah, he's got an academic need". Hmmmm.... I was grateful to the one educator who started this wave of agreement.  Until that moment, it was as though I was watching everything in slow motion.

So I'm guessing, sadly, the water works got him accepted.  When we left, I was telling Sarah how stupid I felt.  She told me, "Don't feel stupid!  I was SO excited when you started crying!  They weren't going to take him otherwise.  I've never seen a child with an autism diagnosis not be immediately accepted before!  But they were not going to accept him until you lost it.  So it's a good thing."  Oh thank you so much Miss Sarah for making me feel slightly less stupid! :) I'm sure the board of people think I am overly emotional wreck.

It's a sad policy in my opinion.  Either Early Intervention needs to be extended through age 5 or, any child with a diagnosed disability (helloooo?!) should be accepted into special education classes... PERIOD.

Austism IQ

Can I find the words to tell you how proud I am today?  Probably not.

My son has recently undergone a huge round of evaluations in hopes of being accepted into special education preschool.  He was tired, crabby, and fairly uncooperative for them overall.  I was so anxious to see what the results would be.

I got my results in the mail yesterday!  I am proud to report ....drum roll please... they found his IQ to be on the lower side of average for his age!  All despite how much he was ignoring many of his everyday actions they requested of him. 

Having Autism he, of course, tested as low as 18 months on some skills (His chronological age was 35 months), but on others he tested into the 5-6 years age range.  My boy has mad memory and number skills....

I am left still hoping and praying he'll be accepted into the preschool, and will find out this Monday.  I definitely want him to go to preschool there because they understand the disorder, know how to best help him, and chose to do this for a living.  I can't be so sure of any of that with a typical school! Although, I do hope for him to attend K-12 typically.

I'll let you all know on Monday what fate has in store for us!

A love letter to my sons

Kekito and Danny,

I love you so much more than you know.  It is true that you cannot understand until you are a parent.  It is life changing, the biggest game changer there is.  My love for you is so immense and consuming.  I could sit and stare at you forever as you sleep or roll around laughing on the floor.  All the while my eyes would pour tears and tears of joy.  And I will forever thank God for the gift of you.  It's happened many times already...

I feel very badly on the days that I don't have enough patience for you.  But you need to know that my love is never lessened on those days.  On the contrary, it really does grow more and more each day.  Every smile you flash wraps me further around your finger.  I wouldn't have it any other way!

You are the loves of my life, and I will try my hardest to be there for you everyday.  I will try to be strong for you on the days you need to cry.  Even though it will rip my heart to shreds to see you go through hard times, I will always do my best to be your rock and give you support to the ends of the Earth.

I will do my best to understand each of you as individuals and learn how your minds work; though I'll never fully get to see inside.  I hope that you'll feel comfortable sharing your thoughts with me.  I promise I will do my best never to judge you.

I can promise that I'll never be a perfect mom.  I'll fall short often, and by great distances.  But I will always, always, always try.  I will do my best to teach you about love, life, and laughter.  And I will do what I think is best for you, even if it's harder for me.

All of my love is yours forever,

...That's what little boys are made of...

I found prince charming!
Remember the nursery rhyme that says, "Frogs, and snails, and puppy dog tails"?  Well, my little munchkins made up two of those three for Halloween this year!  I didn't think of it until the next day.  Upon pointing that coincidence out to Sergio, he suggested just one more baby boy.  That way Kekito could be the snail next year! =)

But I'm good with just the frog and dog!  They are absolutely wonderful, and more than enough...

K LOVED Halloween this year!
We took Kekito for his first ever "trick-or-treating" this year (Danny came along to watch), and he had a great time.  There was a bit of a meltdown getting into costumes, but not one while going house to house (Yay!).  Granted, we only trick-or-treated at four houses in complete daylight.  But it worked!  No major freak outs means next year we may get to push it further! 

I hope every one had a Happy Halloween!  Here comes Thanksgiving!  (yessss!!!!) Post inspiration provided by SITS!

A squash is a squash?

Our Halloween creations!
So we realized this year that getting a pumpkin in Hawaii is a feat.  Or at least the kind of thing you have to plan ahead for.  I saw the pumpkins in the supermarket a few weeks ago and thought, "Psh!  We're going to the pumpkin patch!"  Well.... we went to the pumpkin patch on the second day it opened and.... NO pumpkins left!  Eeek!  Well what is a mommy to do???  My sister told me to carve a butternut squash.  I think she was joking.  But I did it.  AND IT WAS SO CUTE!  It was a pain to carve, but I think I may do one from now on!  I love the shape of it- so unique!  We also had to carve our little decoration pumpkin- Now I'm glad I went nuts buying pumpkins for Kekito this year.  Otherwise we'd have had the lone Butternut.

Our other Halloween creation was a bundle of window decorations made from construction paper!  Kekito had so much fun coloring them all in.  And even more fun peeking at them through the window everyday!

What fun things did you make this year???