Thursday, August 13, 2015

What Aspergers Looks Like

I was talking to someone on the beach one day after apologizing for my oblivious to personal space Aspie child. She asked how one can identify a child with Aspergers, as she wouldn't have known by looking at him. So I thought about it...


This (above) is what Aspergers looks like. And this...


OK, so this is what my eldest son's hand looks like, because apparently having one's picture taken is akin to putting Samwise Gamgee's elven rope around Gollum's neck. ("It burns us!") We swear we're going to make an entire album of pictures of Alex's palm. 

He actually looks like this:



Now, this is quite a rare picture of Alex, because 1. he's looking in the general direction of the camera, 2. there's not a hand to be seen, 3. he's smiling (not that he doesn't smile, it's just he doesn't smile in photos), 4. he's outside (then again, this is his one week outdoors at magical Camp Calumet, the only place we discovered thus far where this child will voluntarily be outside) and 5. it's in focus. I swear Aspie kids have some sort of aura that makes cameras go out of focus when taking their picture, or just plain makes the camera unable to focus on them in the first place.
  

This is a more typical photo of my not so typical teen:



The scowl is not too severe for the affliction that is having one's picture taken. The miracle of this photo is the lack of hoodie. This child wears a long-sleeved hoodie in 90 degree weather. We were at the beach, so that could explain it. Well, it would if he didn't wear hoodies to the beach as well. Come to think of it, both my Aspie children have hoodie collections. And one - not this one- has worn a hoodie in the lake. It was late April in New Hampshire, after all. 

There is also a child with Aspergers in this photo:



Drama Camp at Camp Calumet is one of the highlights of Coren's year. We go to week one of Camp because it's Drama Camp week. He is not one of the starfish (although the starfish with the red shirt showing is his sister)... he's the Prince, who, quite tragically, has drowned and is getting turned into a magic fish by the starfish. He did excellent in this role, as well as the other role he had in the play. He even, much to our shock and amazement, said ok to having make-up applied to his face - he had absolutely refused last year. Things on Coren's face, besides his long hair, usually cause him to freak out. This includes sunscreen, water, and air. Yes, air. 

This is a more typical photo of my not so typical nine year old:



He loves to play cards, games, do puzzles, and that sort of thing. He most likely would have ducked had he realized I was taking the picture. I've been told that this child couldn't possibly have Aspergers because he's so social and "normal" acting. Perhaps his flapping is passed off as a normal behavior for an excited child ... and maybe we cope with his sensory seeking needs so well they're not as evident to the untrained eye.

And then there's this picture. 



Simple street noise overwhelmed him in that moment, after emerging from a hike in the woods, harsh sounding noises assaulting his ears after hearing only birds, wind, and water. When he was done acclimating himself to the auditory differences, he got impatient waiting for Daddy to finish the hike and a little anxious to leave and started flapping his arms. Aspergers looks like a child trying to take flight as well.

Aspergers doesn't necessarily look different from typical. It can look louder or quieter, isolated or overly social, steady or flighty, pacing in circles or flapping arms. Mostly it just looks like a kid in a hoodie. At least in my family. 




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