Tuesday, October 16

October: Autism Awareness Month in Canada

In Canada, October is Autism awareness month. It's important to make people aware of those who suffer from Autism Spectrum Disorder. My oldest grandson, Brandon is one of these children. He has been officially identified with Pervasive Development Disorder. In other words he has Asperger's Syndrome. If you have never heard of Asperger's Syndrome, click here. The information found on this page is just the tip of the iceberg. You can find additional information at Autism Society Canada.

It is said that children and adults (not diagnosed as children) look at things much differently than most people. Compare it to us looking at a tapestry. We see the entire thing. A person who has Asperger's Syndrome, sees every single thread. They often hear background noise before noise in the forefront. They have a different outlook on things. They have trouble trusting at times. They don't like change. These are just some of the problems that those with Asperger's experience.

Brandon has come a very long way in the last four years. He had a very difficult time when he was younger. He had no social skills, could not communicate well, didn't understand body language and would not look you in the eye. Though he still lacks social skills, he communicates better, can understand most body language and will almost always look you in the eye. There is an odd time that he has to be reminded. All of these things had to be taught to him. We played games with him to learn him facial expressions and other body language. We had to pump him for information because he didn't know how to express himself. However, all of our work paid off. Some kids aren't so lucky.

Brandon has what is called "high functioning" autism. He does very well academically, with outstanding marks in most subjects. However, if he can't "get" something, it is very difficult for him. Then suddenly when he does "get" it, it's like a light is turned on. Once he knows something, he doesn't forget it. However, he is very hard on himself because he thinks that he should accomplish perfection and as we all know, this is impossible. Aspies, as children who suffer from Asperger's are called, have a difficult time when they can't get things right the first time.

There are different levels of Asperger's Syndrome. Brandon's is a mild case so they inform us. However, he has trouble controlling his emotions. When he is excited, he moves constantly. When he is thinking or a little down, he is silent. When he gets upset, he goes off by himself. He likes quiet time to think. When he gets angry, which isn't often, he gets very angry. He does things that are annoying at times, like repeating himself. He will say something to someone and then whisper it to himself. Sometimes he makes noises that he may or may not know he's making.

Brandon started animal therapy in March. He goes once a week and it has done him a world of good. The counsellor at the farm says that he is almost ready to step-up a level. He is learning to control his emotions, make friends and work as part of a team. He loves the animals and enjoys going to the farm. It's something he looks forward to. He's held baby goats in his lap, picked up a kitten that was only 24 hours old and held a baby chick. He has learned to climb a fence, get on and off of a trampoline and a host of other things that he couldn't do in March of this year.

Brandon doesn't like sports. He has poor motor skills and doesn't always put proper emphasis on words when he's speaking. However, since attending the farm, these skills have greatly improved.

I'm telling you all this to emphasize how much children with Asperger's Syndrome and Autism need people to support and love them. The child that is throwing a temper in the doctor's office may have Asperger's Syndrome. It may not be a temper tantrum at all - possibly that child's emotions are so overwhelming that he is having a meltdown. These can last anywhere from a few seconds to hours. Please, don't be quick to judge.

Tony Attwood is one of the most knowlegeable doctors in the world on the subject of Asperger's Syndrome. Be sure to visit his website to learn more about this invisible disability.

Note: Asperger's Syndrome is found in both males and females, though it is more predominant in males. Many children who were once thought of as geeks or as being weird probably had some form of Asperger's Syndrome, though not many were diagnosed before the early 90s in North America.


  1. I will be praying for Brandon.

  2. Hi Mary - thanks for visiting my garden blog. I'm enjoying reading through your blog. My job is very rewarding as I work with autistic children (and those with other learning disabilities) and I get to help "turn those lights on" and make their day successful.

  3. Hi Mary ~~ Thank you for telling us all that info about Asperger's Syndrome and Autism. I am glad that your grandson is improving and hope he continues to enjoy his life.
    Thanks for your comments and I am glad you like the photos on my blog. What a lot of work to bring in your plants for Winter - a lot of work for you. Take care,
    Love, Merle.

  4. Thanks for this information on autism. It takes such a struggle for people like yourself who work with such children so they can achieve their full potential.

    I often think of the children who were "odd" at school when I was young. We were often so cruel. Where are they now??

    I had a cousin that had learning difficulties that when undetected until she was in her mid teen. All her life she had been seen and treated like an underachiever. When diagnosed they said she was actually over achieving. It affected her personality.

  5. Until a couple of years ago, I'd never heard of Asberger's. Now I have several online friends who have kids or grandkids with some degree of the syndrome.

    Best of luck to Brandon and his family.

  6. Everyone,

    Thank you for your well wishes and uplifting messages. It brightened my day to read them all. I appreciate your support and prayers. Brandon is doing great, but it takes lots of work on everyone's part to see that he's getting all the help he deserves.

    Blessings to you all.

  7. My Mother is a teachers aid to a young gal with Autism...she is very excited to learn to "read" this year and that she is doing "math"...although she is not at the level of her age group this is a wonderful improvement!

    Have a great day!

  8. t*mmy,

    These kids get so excited when they learn something new. It is difficult for some to learn. Brandon learns easily but thinks he should excel at everything. I've explained that we each have talents and that we need to focus on them. Other things present a challenge and we need to take-up that challenge. He's come a long way.

    Thanks for dropping by. I enjoyed your comments. Have a Wonderful Wednesday.

  9. Hi, Mary. I have a great nephew with autism and I suspect Asperger's, though he's only 4 and hasn't had any extensive testing yet. I also have an online friend whose son has Asperger's, which is where I first learned about it.

    One thing I've noticed with aspies is that everything is exaggerated with them. If they're excited, it's off the scales. If they're sad, they're in the pits of despair. And if they're happy, they are jubilant.

    Thanks for your prayers for my kids' jobs, and I'll pray for yours. Deal? Deal. ;o)

    Love and hugs,


  10. Nancy my special needs daughter who is 45 does not have autism but she does repeat her self about stuff every day. She too whispers it over and over. So I sure do understand what your family goes through. I am so glad he is doing better.

    I will pray for Brandon. Love and Hugs, Grams

  11. Diane,

    Yes, when Brandon is up, he is very up and when he is down, he is very down.

    Did you know that bipolar disorder and compulsive obsessive disorder goes hand in hand with Asperger's? Brandon went through a time when he hoarded all kinds of things, including wrappers etc. He has been diagnosed with OCD. Not a nice thing to live with on top of the Asperger's.

    Yes, Diane. It's a deal. Prayers both ways are definitely in order.


  12. Grams,

    Brandon is not as bad as he used to be. He does, at times, make noises. It's very similar to a monkey and this disturbs me greatly. The one thing I've learned with him is that putting my hand on his shoulder and telling him to stop helps. This draws his attention to what he is doing. Then, there are times, like any kid, that he just likes to push bottons. I dread those days.

    Have a great day and thanks for the prayers.


  13. Mary,

    Thank you for informing us so thoroughly on autism. I never knew much about it. Brandon sounds like he is doing really well now, and always improving. And the discussion on here is so great. Lots of good comments. And you are such a blessing to Brandon. He is lucky to have you for a Grandma!

    Hope all is well in your world. It's pouring rain in mine.


  14. Renie,

    I'm glad that the post afforded you a glimpse into the world of autism. Yes, Brandon is doing better all the time. He does have set-backs but has came a long way since March when he started his animal therapy.

    It's a lovely day here and milder than it's been for a while. About 70 F. Nice for this time of year.


  15. Such a difficult situation! I've seen tv specials about it and it is very hard on families. Thanks for the informative post. And for stopping by my WW.

  16. Dawn,

    Thanks for your comments. Asperger's Syndrome is difficult for us to deal with because Brandon thinks so much differently than we do. However, we count our blessings. The animal therapy has helped a lot.

    Thanks for stopping by. I appreciate your comments.


  17. Thanks for the information on Asperger's and Autism. I work with kindergarteners, and there are some days that I, well, I wonder...
    There is so much more understanding and information now, and that is so good.
    The woman who blogs at Little Cotton Rabbits (link on my blog) has an autistic son.

  18. willow,

    Apparently there are a lot of kids with special needs in today's society. I saw a TV program on it the other night and they are wondering if it is caused from the chemicals and preservatives that are in our food.

    Thanks for dropping by. I've visited Little Cotton Rabbits. Thanks for letting me know that the woman there has an autistic son.

    Take care.


  19. Hello Mary,

    What an informative post! I never knew about Asperger's Syndrome. I've heard of Autism, but not this. Now I know, and understand more than I probably ever would have.

    It sounds like Brandon is making great progress--thanks to his wonderful family!

    Smiles & blessings,

  20. Mary,

    I'm so happy to hear of Brandon's great progress. I know that you have been a strong advocate for him. He couldn't have a better advocate or a better grandma!

    Thank you for pointing out the problems children with various forms of autism face. I think too often, the public decides a child having a "temper tantrum" is "spoiled" and "acting out." We would do well to remember what you said for it is possible the child and his or her family are dealing with autism - we should not be so quick to judge!

    I know that when my grandchildren tell me of a student whose behavior does not conform to the usual, the first thing that pops into my head because of all I have learned from you, is that the student might be dealing with a condition such as autism. I've talked with the kids about trying to be patient because we just don't know what that student might be going through.

    Thank you, Mary.


  21. Michele,

    Thank you for your kind and thoughtful comments. Asperger's Syndrome is not well-known. I try to educate people about it as much as I can. There are many different disorders on the Autism Spectrum. Since Brandon was diagnosed 6 years ago, I've learned a lot about it.

    Brandon is a blessing. He teaches us so much about life as we teach him.

    Thanks for dropping by. Have a wonderful day.


  22. Tina,

    Thank you for your comments and thanks for educating the kids about how others react to certain things. You are a wonderful grandma and the kids are truly blessed.

    Take care, my friend and have a blessed Thursday.


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