Sunday, 8 April 2012

Autism Awareness, ADHD and My Family


AUTISM FACT - The World Health Organisation estimates that there are 1,100,000 cases of autism in China; 650,000 in the UK; 500,000 in the Philippines; and 180,000 in Thailand. Approximately 67 million people worldwide are affected by autism. The rate of autism is growing at 14% per year around the world. In China it is growing at a rate of 20% a year.

Autism has a wide spectrum, as anyone with kids suffering from it can tell you, and somewhere along the graph is ADHD. My two grandsons, Nerd-Boy and Geek-Boy, both have ADHD - Attention Deficiency Hyperactive Disorder - the younger more so than the elder. Both of them swing between the inability to concentrate to total obsession/fixation/concentration, which, in two very intelligent children, was and is frustrating for all concerned *g*. Their schools varied in their ability to cope with them, especially Geek-Boy.

With Nerd-Boy, always a quick-witted [and manipulative!], articulate child, older by two and a half years, ADHD was controlled by Ritalin during school days. Weekends and holidays he was pill-free. When he was fourteen, something changed, and the symptoms of ADHD lessened. Puberty kick-starting the connections in his brain? Maybe. Oh, he's still an argumentative, manipulative little sod at times, but what teenager isn't? *g* The Clinic decided he might be able to manage the condition himself, so the treatment was stopped. Yes, he managed it with few problems, and at eighteen he has a part-time job in a pet store chain, is taking his A Levels and has a place in a nearby University waiting to study Organic Chemistry, if he makes the grade. If he doesn't, he's thinking about taking an Education degree course and becoming a teacher in Maths or Science.

Geek-Boy ticks more boxes in the spectrum, showing signs closer to Autism and Aspergers on occasion. At sixteen and a half, he is still on Ritalin for school, and while just as bright at Nerd-Boy, his grades are a lot lower due to his lack of concentration [and stubbornness!]. In junior school he would solve the maths question on the chalkboard almost as soon as the teacher finished writing, yelling out the correct answer before anyone else had a chance to put up their hand! He is currently in a smaller school that has a good track record with Special Needs kids, keeping them in the mainstream rather than excluding them to their own classes. His grades took a sudden improvement last term, and out of the blue in this term he had an A grade in a Science exam. We're hoping he'll get good enough marks in his GCSEs to allow him to go to the local college and study his first love, Computer Games Design. Failing that, he wants to take a Cookery/Catering course, which doesn't require such high qualifications.

To be honest, living with their ADHD isn't been as hard as it is in the more extreme forms of Autism. The temper tantrums, arguments, stubborn refusals to do as they're told [the Naughty Step got a lot of use] were no worse than kids without the excuse of ADHD. Their mother is an avid researcher, and she scoured the internet to learn everything about the condition, what foods seemed to trigger adverse reactions and experimenting at home to eliminate them from the boys' diet, and how to help them maintain concentration on homework and chores at home. As a family, we found ways to work with it, and they've grown to be happy, affectionate, active, well-adjusted and articulate kids despite the ADHD handicap. Both boys are avid readers [thank God!] and like so many of their peers, addicted to computer games.

We are so lucky.

As part of RJ’s Autism Awareness posting I will be drawing a name from any comments to this blog, and give that person their choice of any of my books. Covers and blurbs for my stories can be found on my Published Titles page here http://chrisquintonwriter.blogspot.co.uk/p/published-titles.html.

Then there's the Spectrum Competition being run by Silver Publishing in support of Autism Awareness hosted on Silver Publishing's Forum. If you haven't already, register to be a part of the Forum and have a chance at the Awesome Prize.

For more information on Autism, visit the WorldAutism Awareness Facebook page.

Don't forget, comment here and you could win an ebook *g*.


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25 comments:

  1. That was really interesting, thanks for sharing your experience.

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  2. Wonderful post Chris. Thank you for sharing with us.  

    Sharon S

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  3. I don't know about ADHD so much, but I think there's a lot more Asperger's around than is diagnosed. I probably would have been close to a high-functioning Asperger's person myself if assessed as a child; these days, of course, I've learned to cope with most of it, though I do have the inability to recognise people's emotions from their faces still, and I still have to force myself to act properly in social situations (which I dislike anyway, but know I have to deal with).

    A friend (alas, who died last year) said there was probably even more of it around in fandom circles, and introduced me to Elizabeth Moon's 'Speed of Dark', which several of us read and said : "Yes, that's me!"

    Good luck with your grandsons - it sounds as if they're doing well, despite everything!

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  4. I didn't know your family was affected by ADHD. I know so little about any of these conditions as of the 7 nieces and nephews I have none are affected. We are so blessed. Thank you for sharing this with us, the boys sound amazing.

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  5. I have a few friends with kids with varying stages of autism and it's inspiring to see these kids go so far with such a big obstacle in the way. I hope autism awareness spreads more knowledge and gets more people help.

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  6. my father had Aspergers when he was alive.  It took him until the age of 45 to realize he had it. In his youth there was no such term as aspergers and he was often left feeling stupid and wondering why just some things were out of his reach. Both my brother and I have ADD and LD and when it did appear in us some questions were raised in regards to my dad if he had any of what we had seeing as a lot of that is genetic. So when he got his diagnosis it made him realize that he wasn't stupid just that his brain worked different. i also have a friend who does have aspergers and her son has it too so she was able to help me understand how it worked and how to deal with someone with such a unique issue. i am glad my dad did get answers and was able to understand finally what  was going on

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  7. While I have no one in my family with Autism, I do teach about it.  I teach Social Psychology and one of the concepts I discuss are childhood issues, with Autism being one of them.  I have also had autistic students and students with ADHD, so that has also opened my eyes.  We can all benefit from learning!
    Yvette
    yratpatrol@aol.com

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  8. wonderful blog post :)  My 9 year daughter Jordan has high-functioning Autism, diagnosed (finally) when she was 5 years old.  She's my sweetheart, bright, loving, and fun :)  A comedian, although she doesn't want others to laugh, because she always thinks they're laughing at her.  She can be as sober as a judge, devises complex puzzles, thinks in colour, and is now able to carry on conversations with others and make herself understood.  I hope you & your grandsons have a marvelous day, and I wish you & your family Happy Easter, Passover, or just a Happy Bright Day, depending :)

    Tame

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  9. They sound like amazing boys.  They are so lucky to have people who work hard to give them the best they can.

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  10. Love your nicknames for the boys.  I call my grandsons by nicknames that make them roll their eyes, it changes from day to day gotta keep them on their toes.  Happy Easter.

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  11. Wow! Very informative. I appreciate you bringing autism to light for those who don't see it in their everyday lives.

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  12. I didn't know that ADHD was amongst the spectrum for autism. It is great that the boys are doing so well.

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  13. This is a topic near and dear to my heart since my oldest son was finally diagnosed with pervasive developmental disorder, one criteria away from high functioning autism, after many years of testing and other diagnoses. Because of his disability he was not as mature as his peers and struggles with understanding nuances in situations everything tends to be black or white for him - there is no grey. However, he is now 22 and in college working towards a journalism degree. He is still behind in terms of maturity and where other 22 year olds are in life but he is getting there even though I am not sure he will ever move out and be completely independent. But you know, that is ok. 

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  14.  It's only comparatively recently that doctors and other specialists have been recognising the whole spectrum of Autism *g*. I wish your eldest son health and happiness in whatever he does. Thanks for commenting.

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  15.  Got to keep those grandkids on their toes! LOL! Thanks for commenting.

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  16.  We're pretty lucky as well, Susan *g*. They're doing well, and apart from the usual teenage angst, they're happy most of the time *g*.

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  17.  Thanks, Tame, and the same to you and yours *g*. Jordan sounds a really sweetie! Thanks for commenting.

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  18.  That is so very true, Yvette! It's a pity some people aren't so open-minded and understanding about the problems Autism can cause. Thanks for commenting.

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  19.  There were a lot of mistakes and desperately unfair judgements made in the days before the doctors and specialists finally began to understand Autism and its wide spectrum. I'm so glad your dad got some answers - often a high IQ goes along with these disorders *g*. Thanks for commenting.

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  20.  You're right, Jess, with the right kind of support from family and school, these kids can go a long way and fulfil their potential! Thanks for commenting.

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  21.  They are, Josie, even if we want to bash their heads together sometimes LOL. But that's teenagers for you. Thanks for commenting.

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  22. *Nods* I think you're right about the Autism headcount, and in the not so distant past, people were very swift to leap to an adverse judgement. I'm probably not untouched by ADD myself *g*, and the condition does seem to have some genetic links... Thanks for commenting

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  23.  Glad you found it interesting, Sharon, and thanks for commenting.

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  24.  Autism and all its variations is a fascinating subject - glad you found it interesting, and thank you for commenting.

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  25. My older son has both ADHD and PDD (we are very close to a full-on Aspie diag). I am just starting to learn about all of the challenges and joys of resetting my expectations and just enjoying my son for who he is. I am thrilled at all the authors stepping up and supporting these causes so close to heart.
    I loved your post, especially the nicknames! Reading all of the experiences people are willing to share are certainly helping me "adjust"
    Thanks Chris!

    Erika

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