Aspergers Autism Symptoms
Echolalia - Our First AH-HA SignAutistic Behavior: The First Signs of
Aspergers Autism Symptoms
Just as the way seemed clear, when the future began to look foreseeable, I began to exhale with a well-earned sigh of relief that the tenuous infant days were behind us. We made it through the early days of life having come though RSV, a diagnosis of in-utero strokes, a Cerebral Palsy diagnosis and the ensuing therapies for treating it, and our carefully selected vaccine regimen. Our babe was on his way!
When my son began to read while he was still in diapers and very young (maybe 2), we thought he was so smart! "Wow," we said, when he would point to the world globe as he announced "Oman" (more like, "OH MAN!") or Brunei, or Cuba in response to our requests that he show us the locations of countries or bodies of water. He quite expertly turned the large globe, and while sitting on my lap, he would enthusiastically point and gleefully announce his find. We actually showed him off to our friends like a trick pony.
His skills included reading aloud from an assortment of books, both cardboard toddler-sized and novels. He looked at the morning paper one day and exclaimed "What a lot of words!" We thought we had a genius in the making. Later, the term "Autistic savant" seemed more likely.
In the process of our continuing visits to developmental specialists, we were advised that our son was hyperlexic, a very early reader, a skill (symptom)that can sometimes precede an autistic spectrum diagnosis. However, I'm getting ahead of myself.
After a Regional Center social worker visited my son at our home to evaluate his developmental progress, she casually suggested that he have an Autism evaluation. She said that he had some of the behaviors or "signs" that Autistic children exhibit. I was stunned and furious and scared to death by the thought of Autism; however, I promptly booked an appointment at the Children's Hospital with Kristin - a great, open-hearted woman who conducted developmental evaluations for children at risk for delays.
She had a way of communicating with me that was direct, and she always had suggestions for conquering the hurdles of each new diagnostic challenge. Kristin seemed to understand that I functioned very well when I was in action - making life better for my son. Optimism was always at hand when she provided tools for us to use.
One of the Aspergers autism symptoms that the social worker noticed was my son's frequent rhetorical questions. I had begun to notice that he would parrot my words, especially my questions to him, repeatedly. I found this irritating, but I did not think it was anything too serious. Well, I was wrong. The name for this behavior is Echolalia and is sometimes referred to as "circle talk" ... you speak, he repeats, you redirect and wait.
When I asked him a question, he would repeat my words verbatim, inclusive of my rhythm of speech and intonation. He was close to 3 years old and already had an extensive vocabulary; he had previously participated easily in reciprocal conversations with me. Now, something had changed. The child that I spent every waking moment with, had cuddled with and played trains with, was now becoming a stranger.
I had been committed to the minute-to-minute caution for his physical safety, his frequent falls in his efforts to get around the limits of having Cerebral Palsy - the daily courses of assorted therapies to manage the effects of C.P. were routine for us. There was a paved road for treatments and accommodations laid by experts in overcoming the effects of Cerebral Palsy. We walked that road every minute of the day, no sweat. Rocks, boulders, switchbacks, and landslides blocked this new path on the route toward healing Echolalia and his new assorted Autistic behaviors.
We were sloughing through quicksand with every forward movement. The only means to get through would be one that we would cobble together with knowledge, experience, experiments, trial and error, and stamina as we trudged forward in our own uniquely awkward gait.
We retained a language integration therapist (insurance paid a portion of the costs) who not only worked with my son by showing him computer images and getting his interpretations of what he saw, but also taught him to reason cause and effect for what was going on in the series of photo images which illustrated individuals preparing to undertake tasks, taking on the tasks in sequence, followed by showing the tasks as complete.
A task as simple as brushing one's teeth and the logical progression of steps taken to complete this task is an example. This process may seem simple to a non-autistic person; however, a child with autism does not have these presumptive processing capabilities and must learn the beginning, middle, and end process to emulate and eventually take on as natural habits.
The language integration therapist gave me strategies for incorporating some of these techniques in my day-to-day relating with my son. When we were riding in the car on our way to one therapy appointment or another, we would discuss what we saw on the way. A bus stop could generate lots of questions and answers. What was it? Why was it there? You name it. We did this exercise regularly and he came to understand the what, why and wherefore of stop signs, crosswalks, even fire hydrants. This was one way that my son learned to gradually and independently, acquire logic.
When my son and I discuss his recollection of the on-the-fly therapies that we integrated into daily life and the trials of adhering to his specific GF/CF diet, he is glad those days are behind him AND that BECAUSE of these seemingly crazy efforts, he was able to emerge from the isolated world inside his head and participate more fully in life.
Echolalia still comes up for him if he has a fever, a cold or is super stressed out about what is going on in his life. However, it does not happen very often and our strategies are so effective and automatic that he responds quickly.
As with many aspects of Autism and Aspergers behaviors, these syndromes can be managed with behavioral modifications and can seem to disappear, although they are not gone completely. We have learned over the years that it is necessary to reintroduce the techniques that worked in the past to get him back on track again. Easy cheesy and no big whoop for us any longer!
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