Thursday, January 14, 2010

From Childhood to Adulthood

When my son was in seventh grade, when the number of children being diagnosed with some form of autism was 1 in 165 instead of 1 in 100, I came across an article from the New York Times on Asperger’s Syndrome (“Answer, but No Cure, for a Social Disorder That Isolates Many,” 4/29/2004; contact me if you would like a copy).

I’ve always characterized his Nonverbal Learning Disorder as a social communications disability that is comparable to Asperger’s Syndrome, but less severe. My son was diagnosed relatively early (age 9), and has gotten tremendous support from the local public schools. He has developed some compensatory strategies to help him in certain social situations – one of which is keeping quiet. As one gentleman in the article points out: being quiet can “make [people] think you’re a good listener.”

There are points made in the article that are disconcerting, but also some helpful tips. For example, there may be groups on Facebook for students with NLD, Asperger’s or other learning disability. It would be great if there were others like my son -- an avid Facebook user -- with whom he could share experiences. There are anecdotes related in the article that I would like him to read; others that I think are less pertinent. Some of the things written in the article I found just plain daunting to ponder – searching for a job for one.

I wish this were an article that would paint a more optimistic picture; unfortunately, it made me painfully aware of some situations that would arise in my son’s life I had not yet considered. But it also made me more sensitive to the fact that there are a lot of people in the same boat, dealing with one form or another of social communications problems. Moreover, there is a growing breadth of services becoming available to adults to teach them how to cope in different social situations.

Last night at the theater, my son and I ran into a classmate of his from the high school. Besides saying hello he lobbed the conversation ball back with a bit of small talk: “It’s funny running into you here!” Ninety-nine people out of 100 would read that and say “big deal;” but for the one in 100 with some form of autism spectrum disorder, that is a pretty big deal!


Traveller said...

I am an adult diagnosed with NLD much later in life than your son (age 50 and am enjoying your blog and the various resources you are posting.

Let's share experiences,
Visit my blog
As you will see from my posts, I have a number of physical problems that are often associated with NLD. Right now, I am focusing a little more on solving those issues but I will be blogging later on about NLD specifically.

PatK said...

Thank you for sharing. My husband was also diagnosed at about that age. Funny how that works!