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Growing up With Aspergers Syndrome (As).

Maria is a marketing writer and published author. She writes about topics she is passionate about like mental health, travel and food.

A short story by Luke

Luke has a good understanding of his Asperger traits.

Luke has a good understanding of his Asperger traits.

Living with High Functioning Autism - being different is OK.

If you were to meet Luke or see him walking down the street there would be no distinguishing features to show he may be different. People with this condition don't always look different. They may have a slight stiffness about them, walk very upright or they may talk with a 'robotic' tone. I met Luke when he attended the same school as my son. He didn't act or look different to me at the time.

Luke is the son of one of my best friends and I have watched him grow into a very responsible adult with an endearing personality once you get past his shield. The shield is the social clumsiness that comes with having High Functioning Autism (previously known as Aspergers Syndrome) and can cause a fear of social interaction, difficulty making friends with peers and limited conversation skills in social situations. Social small talk, in particular, can be a problem. Take note of how Luke's robot reacts when asked to "pull his socks up", the literal sense of the words are understood, not the 'comedic' or sarcastic tone.

As Luke is the same age as my son there were times when I would hear; "Luke did something strange in class today; he hit someone who accidentally bumped into him, he cried when the teachers raised their voices, he makes funny noises sometimes for no reason".

Luke was getting by at school but his parents and teachers always thought he was a bit different. However, no one could put their finger on what it. He was doing well in his schoolwork and sometimes played with the other kids. But when Luke was 11 and in year 5 at school, he pulled his hair out on the crown of his head – the size of a 10c piece (a habit that continued for the next 5 years), was very unhappy and talked about “ending it all”. He used to tearfully ask his mother “why am I different to everybody else?”

His distraught parents took Luke to a clinical psychologist who quickly diagnosed Aspergers Syndrome. She contacted Luke’s school principal to advise some immediate strategies that would help his situation, strategies such as 'time out' spent with the Principal if he could not cope in the classroom or computer time at recess/lunchtime if he stayed on task in the classroom.

'Aspect’ (see link below) also came out to the school to observe Luke, confirm the diagnosis and suggest more strategies. This helped everyone – Luke, the teachers, and especially his parents, to know what was wrong and have people at hand who would be able to help.

The diagnosis, however, was devastating and Luke’s mother cried for months. There is almost a grief one goes through when you find out your child has a “problem”. Grief for the perfect child lost. Luke was still very unpredictable at this time and no one knew what the outcome would be – could he work? Would he ever make friends? Would he ever be happy again?


Luke started attending the following:

  • He had a weekly session for 6 months with the clinical psychologist to work through issues as they arose.
  • Art Therapy classes for 18 months with 2 other children his age who also had Aspergers. He learned to socialise with his peers in a safe setting.
  • Several Workshops held at Aspect (see link below)
  • A teacher at his school was studying Autism and started weekly social skills classes for several children who for various reasons had problems socialising with their peers. She also held a session where all Luke’s peers were told what his problem was. She described it as “the Sixth Sense” which is the invisible social sense. More about the Sixth Sense can be found by looking up 'Carol Gray' who founded this theory and has written several books. This strategy was welcomed by his peers who finally had an understanding of why Luke was different and treated him in a more positive manner. By this stage Luke had one close friend at school and several others who he spoke to. It just shows how a little knowledge goes a long way.

To keep Luke busy away from the playground, the school put his talents to good use by having him install new software on the schools PCs and help others with their computer problems. He also did 'buddy reading' during year 6 for several year 1 students and helped out with lunchtime chess matches by doing the scoring on the computer.

Luke’s special interests are trains, trams, buses, meteorology and photography (but NOT of people!). When he was 11 he joined a youth model train association which put him in touch with young people and young adults who shared his interest. Through this group Luke moved onto train photography and often has train days with his friends. Luke has made many friends through his special interests.

Trains, trams and public transport in general remain the focus of Luke's hobbies, he is excellent on computers (far ahead of his peers) and his photography skills are also beyond his years. He is the school photographer and his photos feature in the school newsletter. His teachers have no problem asking Luke for help with tasks as he is quite comfortable around adults and always eager to please. The best way for Luke to keep his anxieties down is to keep busy and be appreciated for his work.

Luke played AFL (Australian Rules Football) for several years but was not a very good player, he never liked to get the ball in case he messed up and was made to look awkward. When the team needed a boundary umpire he jumped at the chance and is still doing this years later.


An Inspiration to Everyone

As a teenager Luke was a great example to his peers of how focusing on the task at hand may help you to achieve certain goals. It is a given that most of the tasks Luke performs are solo but they do give pleasure to others, especially his sport photography. It is only his social skills that are impaired, and to people who don't know he has Aspergers, he may just come across as a shy kid. Luckily he has a good sense of humour which helps him. He made me laugh occasionally by joking about something I had said, this may not have happened without treatment and early intervention.

Luke also took part in several studies conducted by The University of Sydney –

  • Aspergers Friendships study by Sandy Vickerstaff to see how Aspergians view friends and how important friendships are to them.
  • Oxytocin trials by BMRI (Brain Mind Research Institute at Sydney Uni) to see if this naturally occurring hormone, in nasal spray form, has a positive effect on social ability in Aspergians. Results so far are promising.

Luke is now a responsible adult who is happy and content with who he is and his Aspergers. All in all, having a problem like Aspergers should not be seen as a set back, it is just a different way of seeing life. His parents and teachers now see a bright future ahead for Luke in whatever field he chooses to follow.

Luke and his family are our close friends, we certainly don't believe Luke's condition is a hindrance in his everyday life, he has a very busy social life, will greet us when he sees us and will occasionally join in on conversations.

Article in Sydney Morning Herald about Oxytocin program with promising results -

http://www.smh.com.au/world/hormone-could-help-those-with-autism-20100216-o8z2.html

Should you need help with Aspergers Syndrome or Autism please click the links below (for Australia). Also, Tony Attwood is a leading expert on Aspergers so you may be interested in the Amazon list below.



This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2010 Maria Giunta

Comments

Maria Giunta (author) from Sydney, Australia on June 05, 2012:

Hi recappers and thanks for your comment. This is the hub a won a hubnugget for and I am very proud of it. Glad you like my work.

recappers delight on June 05, 2012:

MPG Narratives, I am very glad to find your work. My son Sam has Asperger's Syndrome, and I am always very interested to learn the perspectives of others about it.

Maria Giunta (author) from Sydney, Australia on April 06, 2011:

Thanks for your comment Helene and reading my hub. I wish your family all the best and hope your nephews are diagnosed correctly and get the help they deserve.

Helene Kahrs on April 06, 2011:

My nephew has severe autism and his brother is going to a physiologist for problems. He is on privosec and has not been tested for asperbeger as he shows all the symptons.

Maria Giunta (author) from Sydney, Australia on February 13, 2011:

Yes being different isn't always easy Alex but I can tell you Luke is doing just fine and is very successful with his photography.

alexfantastico from Victoria, Australia on February 13, 2011:

Luke's short story brought a tear to my eye.

Maria Giunta (author) from Sydney, Australia on October 30, 2010:

Thanks beccas90 for sharing your views on this subject. Autism and Aspergers are of interest to me because I have 3 close families affected. I started on Hubpages to raise awareness and help my friends to find further resources. I hope my small contribution will help others.

beccas90 from New York on October 29, 2010:

I've spent a good part of the last hour reading your materials MPG. You have accumulated a good resource library for help in the PDD and OCD arena. These have touched my life. There is a lot of mis-diagnosis that happens and ADD ADHD are often thrown in as labels. Many specialists give labels so families can get help and assistance they need. This unfortunately is prevalent but also provides financial assistance to families that would otherwise not be helped.

My hope is as we learn more, and understand why we are seeing an uptick in those diagnosed on the PDD scale we can also focus on providing better intervention and care.

Maria Giunta (author) from Sydney, Australia on October 02, 2010:

Thank you LSKing for commenting. There are a few hubbers who talk about their asperger children, Shazwellan is one with excellent hubs about her son.

My interest in Autism and Aspergers comes from knowing three families in my close circle of friends who are affected, so I started on hubpages to raise awareness of the subject using them as my inspiration. They are inspirational families and I learn much from them. I look forward to reading your stories and learning from you as well.

LSKing from East Coast United States on October 02, 2010:

My son was diagnosed with Asperger's when he was 6 years old. This article was very inspiring. You're a wonderful person for taking such a personal interest in your friend's son and his condition. The most difficult part of my son having Aspergers is that many do not understand or except it. I hope to someday be brave enough to share his struggles.....our struggles.... in a hub. Excellent hub!

Maria Giunta (author) from Sydney, Australia on September 28, 2010:

Thank you for a lovely comment Tina and for visiting my hubs. Nice to know you.

TINA V on September 28, 2010:

Kids with autism, such as Luke, are special and need all the love and understanding from their families and friends. These kids are given to special parents, too. It may not be an easy tasks for Luke's family, but I believe that God allows certain things to happen for a reason.

This is a heart warming story. I am sure that anyone who reads this will learn something from their experience. Great hub!

Maria Giunta (author) from Sydney, Australia on September 22, 2010:

Thank you for a lovely comment, WordCustard. I do hope my writing does help people.

WordCustard from Scotland on September 22, 2010:

These stories of personal experiences either with Aspergers yourself or someone you know are such a valuable way to raise awareness and let others know they are not alone. It is like reaching out a hand to someone instead of just pushing a medical text at them. It is hard being different, but being understood makes it a little easier.

Maria Giunta (author) from Sydney, Australia on September 13, 2010:

Thank you A la carte. He is the son of a friend of mine and he is doing so well these days, which is lovely as he was a bit of a mess in primary school.

This was one of my first hubs on the subject, hope you enjoy the others as well.

A la carte from Australia on September 13, 2010:

I have knowledge of Aspergers through someone I know and I have to say this was a really interesting and thoughtful article.

Maria Giunta (author) from Sydney, Australia on August 08, 2010:

Aspergers is hard enough to diagnose in western countries so I can imagine how many people are left undiagnosed in third world countries. People such as Luke are lucky to have the support they have. Thanks for commenting WT.

World-Traveler from USA on August 07, 2010:

I have seen people with this disease in several underdeveloped countries that I have visited. In some of those countries the affected people remain undiagnosed and untreated because there isn't a sufficiently educated group of physicians to meet the demand. A heart breaking story.

Maria Giunta (author) from Sydney, Australia on June 22, 2010:

Luke really is a nice fellow and you are so right, many "normal' people don't have a sense of humour which is sad. Thanks for the comment.

kaltopsyd from Trinidad originally, but now in the USA on June 22, 2010:

This was a great article. Luke sounds like a very nice fellow. I wish all the best for him. I'm glad he has a good sense of humour when there are many "normal" people who don't. It's amazing how children with Asperger's and other related disorders can be geniuses.

Baileybear on June 14, 2010:

Luke sounds a lot like my son who is fixated with trains too. I have been writing about our experiences being diagnosed with Asperger Syndrome (I was diagnosed because of my son's diagnosis). Thankyou for sharing. I will link

Maria Giunta (author) from Sydney, Australia on June 10, 2010:

You are very welcome AIDY. Understanding means harmony and every relationship needs that.

AIDY on June 10, 2010:

Thank you. I am happy to read about Luke and his story is a familiar one to me. I can agree with you in that Aspies have have a different way at seeing things in our world and still have much to contribute in-spite of our own small personal challenges. Thank you again for writing, as I have enjoyed reading your words very much.

AIDY

Maria Giunta (author) from Sydney, Australia on May 18, 2010:

Thanks embee77, I will check out the interview when I have time. So nice of you to leave comments on my hubs and here in Australia Aspergers is becoming more known which is good for all involved.

embee77 on May 18, 2010:

MPG, Thanks for checking out my hubs, and nice to meet you. I am really impressed with this hub and your obvious love for Luke and his family. I completely agree about grieving when a parent learns of a diagnosis like Asperger's. It's a long process and parents need support from friends and professionals. I recently listened to a public radio interview on Asperger's with two writers who are parents of a 9 year old with the condition. It's downright inspirational and you can access it online. Go to Speaking of Faith - the interviewer is Krista Tippett and you'll find the show I'm talking about on their website. It strikes me that the media (at least in the US) is finally picking up on the prevalence of Asperger's and highlighting the strengths and struggles of living with it. Congrats on your award, and keep writing! Thanks.

Maria Giunta (author) from Sydney, Australia on March 03, 2010:

Hi revybaby, the interventions (some of them) are still only in trial stage but there is hope.

revybaby from On the Road on March 03, 2010:

It is wonderful to hear how the intervention strategies helped him so much. I hope that this helps other parents have a bit of hope if they are dealing with this.

Thanks!

Maria Giunta (author) from Sydney, Australia on February 25, 2010:

DM - thanks for your comments and vote. I'll have to watch Sherlock Holmes, haven't seen it yet.

Dolores Monet from East Coast, United States on February 24, 2010:

MP - I'm sorry to hear that your friend suffered so over the diagnosis of her child's Aspergers. But it's great that the condition has received so much attention of late so the associated problems can be addressed at an early age.

We recently say the movie, Sherlock Holmes and it looks as if Doyle created one of fictions most memorable characters based on a person with Aspergers. Interesting. Congratulations on your nomination for the Hubnuggets award.

Maria Giunta (author) from Sydney, Australia on February 24, 2010:

Thanks and welcome to you on hubpages. I hope your nephew is doing good things too.

rmhoskinson from Midwest USA on February 24, 2010:

Great hub. Informative and well written. I have a nephew with Aspergers. Congrats!

Maria Giunta (author) from Sydney, Australia on February 22, 2010:

Thank you GeneriqueMedia, social connecting can be hard at times, hang in there.

GeneriqueMedia from Earth on February 22, 2010:

Beautiful story, MPG. I am glad that Luke has begun to excel. Some people just aren't able to connect with others--I for one usually find two to be a crowd, three a party.

Thank you for sharing this with us, and welcome to HubPages!

Sincerely,

G|M

windows vps hosting on February 22, 2010:

Nomination for Hubnugget wannabe, its all about self satisfaction than the media exposure, isn't it??

Maria Giunta (author) from Sydney, Australia on February 21, 2010:

Obsexed, katiecat & mystique1957 - thank you for your great comments, appreciate all the support. Aspect is an organisation I have a lot of respect for hence the reason I want to raise awareness for them.

Mystique1957 from Caracas-Venezuela on February 21, 2010:

First of all, congratulations on your nomination as a Hubnugget wannabe! This hub is wonderful and speaks volumes of your love for humanity! I am happy that what you´ve done has been successful and that Luke is a happy boy! I wish you the best of luck!

Thumbs up!

Warmest regards and blessings,

Al

katiecat on February 21, 2010:

Hey MPG, beautifully drawn picture of the difficulties and awesome achievements that can be made with care, knowledge and understanding. ASPECT is a great resource that more people should know about, so well done for raising its profile.

Katie Butler from Sensual, USA on February 21, 2010:

This is a really wonderful hub. My son was diagnosed with Asperger's a couple of years ago. It is not a well understood sydrome. Luke is an inspiration!

Maria Giunta (author) from Sydney, Australia on February 20, 2010:

All these wonderful comments, I am overwhelmed, thank you to all. Shazwellyn - I looked at your site quickly and will be visiting often, Guest - every aspie is different as shazwellyn says and we all do whatever works to help people with this condition. Good luck to everyone as life certainly can throw some challenges.

Guest on February 20, 2010:

I have a child with Aspergers. I actually was relieved when I found out. Primarily because I knew what was going on and could map out a road of progress. Teachers and schools are not prepared, especially for the bullying to them and from them. We tried school for two years. Now he is home schooled and is active in choosing the sports and social activities that he is comfortable with. We also have an opportunity to teach him the life skills that will become lifelong habits. We have used amino acids and herbs and have seen tremendous changes as he has gotten older. Sometimes it is hard, but mostly I just love him.

shazwellyn on February 20, 2010:

My son is AS... it is difficult because each aspie is different. I have written a lot on this subject. Thanks for writing and I will be looking at that oxytocin article with interest. Gluten Free diets help too... check my hub on this, if you want x

Maria Giunta (author) from Sydney, Australia on February 20, 2010:

Thank you Shawn, very kind comments.

Shawn on February 20, 2010:

Fantastic article and so informative.

Congratulations, you are a good friend.

We hope others become aware of your efforts and friendship.

A credit to you.

Maria Giunta (author) from Sydney, Australia on February 20, 2010:

MG & Pamela, thanks for your comments, Autism and Aspergers is a subject close to my heart as three people I know are affected.

Pamela Oglesby from Sunny Florida on February 20, 2010:

Thanks for writing about Aspergers as this was a very well written informative hub. It sounds like you were a wonderfully supportive friend and I'm glad the young man is doing well. Great hub.

Money Glitch from Texas on February 19, 2010:

Thanks for making us aware of Asperger and the struggles that one must endure. I'm always amazed at how children with such behavior can be so highly intelligent and or gifted in other areas. Thanks for sharing your wisdom and congrats on being nominated for the HubNugget Wannabes. Good Luck to ya!

Maria Giunta (author) from Sydney, Australia on February 19, 2010:

Sage thank you for your lovely comments. Luke is an amazing young man who teaches us all a different way of looking at life. I'm so pleased to have been nominated too.

Sage Williams on February 19, 2010:

MPG - You have done an awesome job writing about your friend's son with Asperger's. One of my former client's had Asperger's. He was amazingly gifted. I enjoyed working with him. He was a truly amazing person.

I can attest to much of what you have written. Thanks so much for this very interesting and compassionate article. Through your writing many will learn how to interact and work with individuals with Asperger's.

Great job! Welcome to HubPages and Congratulations on your nomination to HubNuggets!

Maria Giunta (author) from Sydney, Australia on February 19, 2010:

Ripplemaker, thanks so much for your comments and yes I did know about the hubnugget nomination, I'm am more than pleased just to be nominated! Aspergers can be a silent problem as some people are not diagnosed until late in life (see George and Marion's story "Aspergers and its affects").

Michelle Simtoco from Cebu, Philippines on February 19, 2010:

MPG, having a child with Aspergers is indeed a challenge. Likewise, the teachers in school should learn how to handle them. Awareness, knowledge and a lot of compassion and understanding goes a long way.

Thank you for sharing this as it will help a lot understand kids. Did you know that this hub has been nominated for the Hubnuggets? If you didn't know yet, now you know! :D Just visit this link and you will see for yourself: https://hubpages.com/hubnuggets10/hub/Raiders-of-T...

Be sure to vote and promote okay?

Maria Giunta (author) from Sydney, Australia on February 12, 2010:

Isn't it amazing how much we have in common! Thanks for your lovely comments.

KT Banks from Texas on February 12, 2010:

It can be really hard for the whole family. My nephew has Asperger's, and it took a long time to find out what his difficulties were. A lot of time people hate to be labeled, but at other times it helps to be able to explain something or put a name to it.

I'm thrilled to say, that at 15 my nephew is doing very well.

Thanks - again for sharing your stories. I wonder how much more we'll discover we have in common. LOL

KT

Maria Giunta (author) from Sydney, Australia on February 12, 2010:

Thanks, Luke is an inspiration to everyone around him. Appreciate your comment.

Jen's Solitude from Delaware on February 12, 2010:

Thank you for this personal look into Asperger's. I am glad Luke is doing well and has understanding and loving friends like you and your family.

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