Saturday, April 5

I received an email today from a lady who was directed to my blog by a friend. It seems this lady has a granddaughter who was just recently diagnosed with Asperger's Syndrome. She explained to me that after reading yesterday's post that she understood a little more about why her granddaughter "acts out."

Remember that each autistic child is different. We cannot just say, "the child has autism" and lump all of those kids into the same group and expect them to react the same way to different circumstances. As with all other children, each autistic child has his/her own personality. Many children that suffer from autism are highly intelligent. It seems that their brains work overtime, yet they don't understand how to communicate what they are thinking. They have a hard time making friends because they don't understand the rules of socializing. Some may be shy, while others are aggressive.

The autism spectrum includes a wide variety of disorders. Some children are "high functioning autistic," as Brandon is. Others are at the low end of the spectrum.

Above is a diagram of the autism spectrum. From what I understand from the research I've done, is that children at the severe end of the spectrum are very easy to identify. Then we come to midsection where autistic traits are more varied. This includes PDD -NOS (Pervasive Developmental Disorder - Not Otherwise Specified.) The less severe or high functioning end of the spectrum, which includes Asperger's Syndrome has the largest number of shapes because of the variation in presentation. This is also the end of the spectrum that has the highest density of population that is affected. The area to the extreme right shows where people on the autism spectrum blend into the general population. Since the autism spectrum is so varied, it is impossible to say that a person who has been diagnosed as autistic will have a particular trait or even that he cannot possess other traits.

When Brandon belonged to the bowling league, there was a girl on his team that had Asperger's Syndrome. Yet the difference between her and Brandon was like day and night. She didn't have the meltdowns like Brandon experienced, but she did have the large head. She possessed much different traits than he did. So every individual case of Asperger's Syndrome or autism, for that matter, can be very different.

It is important for us to teach children that are high functioning autistic all of the things that they will need to know to make it on their own in the world. At one time Brandon had no concept of facial expressions or body language. He wouldn't look you directly in the eye. The Vice Principal that I spoke of the other day made him look her in the eye when she talked to him. She encouraged us to do the same. Today we sometimes still have to remind Brandon to look us in the eye when we are talking to him. However, he has made great progress.

My daughter, Michelle, and I played games with Brandon to learn him about facial expressions. We would exaggerate a face, say a smile, and ask him what it meant. We would exaggerate frowns, glares, make sad faces and knit our eyebrows. Then we would ask him what he thought that particular face meant. I would place my hands on my hips and give him a "look." He was eager to learn and today he does understand most body language.

There has been a recent study done and the results are astounding. While there may never be a cure for autism, researchers are working diligently to try to identify why it is becoming more prevelant in today's society. Post mortems of people who suffered from autism have certainly helped and now five genes have been identified as being contributing factors in some cases. To read more, please follow the link to The Brain & Autism. There is also a diagram posted on the site that will give you a better idea of how the brain is affected when autism is present.

Mary asked me today if I knew where she could buy an autism ribbon. There are items for sale that promotes autism awareness.

CafePress - Look near the top of the screen and you will see a search engine. Set it to "all departments" and then type in the word "autism." There are t-shirts, mugs, bumper stickers, sweatshirts, magnets and so much more for sale here. Be sure to click on "more products" under the items and explore the site thoroughly. Brandon's teacher that he had last year in grade six and has again this year for grade seven loved his "I Teach Someone with Autism and I Learn from Him Everyday," coffee mug. Mr. M is a great teacher for Brandon and we have been truly blessed.

I saw a t-shirt there that I told my hubby I just have to get. It says, "I asked God for a blessing and He gave me my autistic grandson." Truer words have never been spoken. When I get it, which won't be for a while, I will post a photo.

Have a great Saturday and remember not to judge those who are different. After all, wouldn't the world be a boring place if we were all the same? ~Blessings, Mary~


  1. Another great post and so informative. It is encouraging that discoveries are being made about the brain and autism. I definitely am interested to read more about the 5 genes.

    Brandon sounds like he has a tremendous support system at home and at school with his teacher and vice-principal. Thank you for posting about facial expressions (I pictured you making a ton of crazy faces-very good idea to have him intrepret!) and I am keeping ideas tucked away for future days with my own boy.

    Keep up the great blogging! You are doing an amazing job.

  2. Thanks for sharing all of this very helpful information. May God always shine on dear Brandon.

  3. This is what I enjoy about your blog and you as a grandmother dear Mary!! You are there to give support and educate us all! It's an amazing venture you've created in your writing and how you explain the critical differences in what you're writing about each and every day!! One amazing blogger!!! [I love your style]

    Have a fantastic weekend.

  4. I’m glad you’re continuing to share about Autism this month. We’re all learning more about this condition thanks to you and others sharing your experiences and information.
    Hugs and blessings,

  5. God bless you and Brandon.. and Thank you for this information...
    Have a wonderful weekend!

  6. I came over via the link at Snoopmurph's page and very much enjoyed reading several of your recent posts here about your grandson and autism.

    I'm also participating in the Autism Awareness Blogging - both my two younger grandchildren are autistic. Maya, age 4 1/2, is PDD-NOS but several therapists have said they think she might be Asperger's. Her little brother, Kurtis, who will be two on April 13th, was recently diagnosed -initially with PDD-NOS but a week later, the doctor changed it to straight Autism. He has several of the same markers as his sister had as well as a few others thrown in just for good measure and added challenges, maybe.

    Stop by and visit my blog sometime -I frequently post about many of Maya's antics. She's doing very well now, attends a special preschool program for autistic children that has done wonders for her.

    Next Saturday, my children, my older grandson along with Maya, two of her therapists and several friends of ours will also be participating in a 3K walk to raise money for Autism Speaks. If you'd like to help us either through donations to our team or simply by passing the information around to others about this event, any help we can get would also be greatly appreciated.

    Thanks for posting such wonderful pieces filled with lots of information about autism. I added your blog to my reader now too.

  7. I will be here latter tonight to read...... Right now I am in the construction business without the hard hat.......hahahhahah life is good.................

  8. Once again I want to thank you for all the good information. This is how we learn and grow. I agree, Brandon has had a wonderful support system and for that you should be commended!

  9. Thank you Mary, we all learn so much from you. much wisdom:)

  10. This is a great post,Mary!! It is helpful for me with Nancy. Today at the Tartan Day, Karen's singles group from church was there and one lady brought a friend who we didn't know. Karen was taking there picture for the singles class and Nancy saw them and jumped up and wanted her pictures taken with the lady we didn't know!! But she was very nice about it and after Nancy came back and sit down Karen told her about Nancy. But this is just the way it is sometimes!! Even after we have told her when we go places not to do stuff like this!!

    I have a new post up with pictures! You can click on them and make them bigger!! We had a great day! Love and Hugs Carolyn
    Ok I just read what Anni said and she said what I was trying to sayt!!!!

  11. Your grandsons world is a better place and will be a better place because of you...... You are a grandmother extraordinaire!...I do the Special Olympics uniforms for the McCalls Chappel here in town each year... It is a group home for Specail needs adults with such things as Autism. I am guessing there is about 150 now living out there.. It is a beautiful place just east of town....I go out there a lot in the month of March getting their order together and I am always met by one of the adults that live there....... I always speak and talk to them and when inside they love to greet me and visit.......... I have much more understanding of these precious people now......... Thank you for the information......... Knowledge gives us strength..and power.......


  12. They been having a lot on the News here about Autism and how much it cost and how Insurance won't pay. God Bless

  13. Mary,
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