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Advice on how best to help my gifted Aspergers son please.

nicscifichicknicscifichick Member Posts: 2 Listener
edited October 2016 in Education and learning
Hi,

I'm looking for a little advice please. My son was diagnosed with ASD at seven (3 years ago). I was unofficially told by the clinical psychologist that he is Aspergers, but the only diagnosis now given in the area in which we live is ASD. I have always thought he was very bright, and his testing showed that he had an above average IQ - it fell in the high average range. However, he has always been in the remedial classes at school and been somewhat of an underachiever. Things improved slightly when we worked out he had Irlens a couple of years ago and got him tinted glasses to improve his reading and concentration, but now things are sliding badly again and he is not achieving the average levels for his age. Last academic year was dreadful; he came home distraught and bored every day for the last month of school and although he is, unusually for Aspergers,  a very social child, all of his friendships fell apart, in no small part due to his anxieties. He is hyperactive most of the time, struggles to sit still and concentrate, cannot take part in any kinds of organised activities with rules and turn taking - all of that frustrates and bores him rigid. I approached the school for help and they have called in Education Psychology, and I met with the locum yesterday (our local authority has staffing issues). My son's IQ is now at 132 and the Ed Psych said he behaved perfectly in class, although he admitted my son spotted him straight away and became almost statuesque in posture (anxiety at someone new in the room?). I was almost sent away with a 'You've got nothing to worry about' until he said 'I assume he's on the gifted and talented programme?' at which point I explained he was behind in his studies and always languished in the bottom groups. He seems completely unable to access and retain the information he is being taught in a way he can reproduce in the school environment. Unfortunately our meeting was cut short as not enough time had been left for it, and the Ed Psych was planning to rush off a report that day, even though he was running late. That worries me! He hadn't even read my son's background information at this point! He is going to support an EHCP application by the school on the grounds of his intellect and failure to achieve average grades, but he said the  EHCP will have to be very carefully thought out when they get permission to do it.

He has mentioned that he believes my son may have a co-morbid condition because his Aspergers is not stereotypical in presentation. I have been worried for a while that he might have ADHD. This worry had been compounded recently because for the first time in his life I let him have a bottle of coke. I have never allowed him to drink it before because of his hyperactivity, but rather than causing it to get worse, for half an hour he was the calmest I have ever seen him. I couldn't understand it and read up about treatments for ADHD and found out it is treated with stimulants. He is going back to CAMHS to be assessed again, but I know from other parents that is very difficult to get an ADHD diagnosis in our area and many parents with children who have both Aspergers and ADHD have had to go to a specialist centre in Sheffield to get that diagnosis.

So, I suppose I want to know a few things. In your experience, does a dual condition of  Aspergers with ADHD sometimes counteract the lack of social skills in children affected by them? It certainly seems to in the two other children I have met with a dual diagnosis; they are both extremely funny and talkative and are far more social that my other son who also has a diagnosis of Aspergers and is academically brilliant.

The other thing is, am I reading to much into the calming effect coke has on my son, or is that a pointer to possible ADHD and is worth raising with CAMHS when we get our appointment? I really can't understand why else caffeine would calm him down, and I've tried him with it a few more times since when he's been particularly hyperactive or distressed and you can actually see the change coming over him. It doesn't last long, but the effect is real enough that other relatives have commented on it too.

And finally, have you any experience in drawing up EHCPs for children like my son who are gifted but not able to learn in traditional ways? I'm really not sure what kinds of methods can be applied, although he does seem to be far more attentive when learning activities are done on iPads and laptops, or during activities that employ arts/crafts elements. With the greatest of respect to the TAs in our school, I do not want him to be taught one-to-one by a person who isn't as able or well-trained as a teacher. I really don't see how that will help someone with a high IQ and wonder if perhaps finding some new learning methods that can be applied while he continues to work in amongst the other children in his class under the supervision of his teacher would be better for him. I'm really confused as to what kind of help is out there, and with the Education Psychology unit in flux, as is the SEN team in my school, I am worried important opportunities for him to thrive will be overlooked.

Sorry for the long message, but any advice or experience you have of dealing with children like my son would be greatly appreciated. I really want to go into future meeting armed with as much information as I can get my hands on!

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