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Old 08-30-2013, 12:42 PM   #1
Nixie
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Asperger's vs. High Functioning Autism

I know this is a Disney board, but I know there are a lot of mommies on here with kids on the spectrum that might have some insight into this for me. DS (11) was just recently diagnosed on the spectrum after 11 years of misdiagnoses. He was labeled "anti - social" by his pediatrician. They also gave him a diagnoses of ODD. He also has a diagnoses of ADHD. I have suspected autism for awhile. In fact, if you want to get right down to it, I am probably an undiagnosed adult with Asperger's myself. (And so is my dad). I have seen sooo many similarities between my son and myself which is probably why I understand him so well and probably also why it took so long to get a diagnoses because a lot of his behaviors I thought were just his "quirks". Little quirks like I myself have. Anyways, he started having MAJOR behavioral issues at school which prompted me to seek other avenues for him. We saw a consular who took one look at him and said Autism. The first pyscologist agreed stating he had high functioning autism. The pyschatrist disagreed and says he has Asperger's. I am completely confused as to what the difference is. I assumed they were pretty much one and the same. Can someone please clarify this for me? Also, I could totally use any help or resources you can direct me to when it comes to helping my son. This is all completely new to us and we are starting down this new path for us completely blind.
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Old 08-30-2013, 01:16 PM   #2
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I use the terms synonymously. My understanding is that different doctors are more comfortable with one label over the other and will have differing opinions as to which diagnosis a child should be given. Some doctors will only use one or the other.

Basically, you've already jumped the important hurtle of getting the ASD diagnosis so you can get him the therapies and/or accomodations that he needs. The specific diagnosis is actually irrelevant as long as the school and specialsts all understand his particular set of issues and needs and treat/help him accordingly.

As the mom of an Aspie who's als a self-diagnosed Aspie who's got a brother, father and grandfather who I also believe are Aspies, I get where you're coming from with your thoughts over the years regarding your son's behaviours. My DD is a mini-me in a lot of areas of her personality as well as many of her quirks.
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Old 08-30-2013, 02:02 PM   #3
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My understanding is that the only difference is when language skills developed. Kids who had normal language development are diagnosed Asperger's, while language delays signal an Autism diagnosis. I'm pretty much with pp though, no real difference between the two.
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Old 08-30-2013, 02:14 PM   #4
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The way it was explained to me is that the higher functioning end of the PDD-NOS spectrum is the high functioning with language delay diagnosis. I think no two doctors use the same criteria. The professionals we've worked with don't actually give a HFA diagnosis and say that using the term high functioning autism is just a descriptor rather than a diagnosis. It's no wonder there's so much confusion around all of this. Even the professionals don't agree.
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Old 08-30-2013, 03:12 PM   #5
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I have another question: I have already been told by the school, that we will have problems getting an IEP for him because academically he is doing just fine. He has to be having problems academically to be approved for services. I think this is being a little short sighted. My child isn't having problems academically (because he is ridiculously bright), but he is having problems with the social aspects of school. His behavior has caused problems in school like getting suspended for two days last year. He only does what is asked of him; bare minimum. He probably would get better grades and such if he were to actually apply himself which he doesn't do because of attention issues. SO, because he isn't having actual academic problems, he won't get services like being able to get a "time out" when he is being overwhelmed. They will treat hs outbursts like a behavioral problem and not a symptom of some other issues that are going on. Does that make sense? How do I go about dealing with this and getting the services I think he needs like being able to talk to a counsler at school if he is having a rough day or quiet, less stimulating places for test taking and studying, etc. ??
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Old 08-30-2013, 03:58 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nixie View Post
I have another question: I have already been told by the school, that we will have problems getting an IEP for him because academically he is doing just fine. He has to be having problems academically to be approved for services. I think this is being a little short sighted. My child isn't having problems academically (because he is ridiculously bright), but he is having problems with the social aspects of school. His behavior has caused problems in school like getting suspended for two days last year. He only does what is asked of him; bare minimum. He probably would get better grades and such if he were to actually apply himself which he doesn't do because of attention issues. SO, because he isn't having actual academic problems, he won't get services like being able to get a "time out" when he is being overwhelmed. They will treat hs outbursts like a behavioral problem and not a symptom of some other issues that are going on. Does that make sense? How do I go about dealing with this and getting the services I think he needs like being able to talk to a counsler at school if he is having a rough day or quiet, less stimulating places for test taking and studying, etc. ??
Here is a lot of information about special education eligibility from Wrights Law.
http://www.wrightslaw.com/info/elig.index.htm
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Old 08-30-2013, 06:07 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by Nixie View Post
I have another question: I have already been told by the school, that we will have problems getting an IEP for him because academically he is doing just fine. He has to be having problems academically to be approved for services. I think this is being a little short sighted. My child isn't having problems academically (because he is ridiculously bright), but he is having problems with the social aspects of school. His behavior has caused problems in school like getting suspended for two days last year. He only does what is asked of him; bare minimum. He probably would get better grades and such if he were to actually apply himself which he doesn't do because of attention issues. SO, because he isn't having actual academic problems, he won't get services like being able to get a "time out" when he is being overwhelmed. They will treat hs outbursts like a behavioral problem and not a symptom of some other issues that are going on. Does that make sense? How do I go about dealing with this and getting the services I think he needs like being able to talk to a counsler at school if he is having a rough day or quiet, less stimulating places for test taking and studying, etc. ??
I would think that you should really push for an IEP. School is not just academic. Many, if not all states, do also have standards for social/emotional learning at school...that is TOTALLY part of the purpose of school. He should not be getting suspensions or other penalties for a disability. No way. I'd be going up the chain of command in my district. Start with teacher, then principal, then superintendent, then school board. Tempting as it is to go straight to the top, you will get a better solution(even though it takes a while) if you go step by step through the chain of command. Document all your conversations/emails as you go along. You will learn a lot too, which will also help you as you work through this over the next several years.
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Old 08-31-2013, 06:48 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nixie View Post
I have another question: I have already been told by the school, that we will have problems getting an IEP for him because academically he is doing just fine. He has to be having problems academically to be approved for services. I think this is being a little short sighted. My child isn't having problems academically (because he is ridiculously bright), but he is having problems with the social aspects of school. His behavior has caused problems in school like getting suspended for two days last year. He only does what is asked of him; bare minimum. He probably would get better grades and such if he were to actually apply himself which he doesn't do because of attention issues. SO, because he isn't having actual academic problems, he won't get services like being able to get a "time out" when he is being overwhelmed. They will treat hs outbursts like a behavioral problem and not a symptom of some other issues that are going on. Does that make sense? How do I go about dealing with this and getting the services I think he needs like being able to talk to a counsler at school if he is having a rough day or quiet, less stimulating places for test taking and studying, etc. ??
I am not saying whether or not YOUR child needs an IEP. There are many, many children with Autism/ Asperger's who do not have IEP's and do well in school. My nephew (14) is one of them. He had an IEP throughout much of elementary school and spent part of the day in a separate classroom. By the upper elem. grades he no longer had any need for an IEP. Middle school was a little rough socially (he did go to counseling) but he was very strong in his classes and got good grades. He is starting High School this week and we will see. OTOH, there are many children with Autism/ Asperger's who do qualify for IEP's.

As a special education teacher there are 3 questions that we (the team made up of teacher, parents, therapists, principal etc...) must answer (by law) in order to qualify someone for Special Education. The first asks whether or not the student has one of a specific list of disabilities. Since autism is on the list, the answer in your DS's case would be yes and you can move onto question 2.

Question 2 is where it gets fuzzy. The question is: Is the child making effective progress in school? If the answer is no, then the child does not qualify for an IEP and may be entitled to a 504 plan. If the question is yes, then you can move onto question 3. The problem is, "effective progress" is completely subjective. You could argue that if your child has passing grades, then they indeed are making "effective progress." On the flip side, you could argue that suspensions are hurting his "effective progress."

This is why the school is saying he may not qualify. It also may be pressure from administration. I know our principal likes to keep the numbers down and we groan when she attends a meeting because we know if it is a child who is on the fence that she will push us away from qualifying him/her and that there will be repercussions if we disagree with her.

My suggestion to you would be to document. Document difficulties/ successes; what works/ what doesn't. Look and see if he really needs specially designed instruction or if he just needs accommodations/ related services that could easily be covered under a 504 plan. And, my biggest advice is not to go to a meeting alone. They can be completely overwhelming. Bring your spouse, parent, sibling, friend... someone else who knows your child.

I wish you the best.
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Old 02-15-2014, 04:25 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by Nixie View Post
I have another question: I have already been told by the school, that we will have problems getting an IEP for him because academically he is doing just fine. He has to be having problems academically to be approved for services. I think this is being a little short sighted. My child isn't having problems academically (because he is ridiculously bright), but he is having problems with the social aspects of school. His behavior has caused problems in school like getting suspended for two days last year. He only does what is asked of him; bare minimum. He probably would get better grades and such if he were to actually apply himself which he doesn't do because of attention issues. SO, because he isn't having actual academic problems, he won't get services like being able to get a "time out" when he is being overwhelmed. They will treat hs outbursts like a behavioral problem and not a symptom of some other issues that are going on. Does that make sense? How do I go about dealing with this and getting the services I think he needs like being able to talk to a counsler at school if he is having a rough day or quiet, less stimulating places for test taking and studying, etc. ??
My son was diagnosed with autism when he was 3. He is now 7 and is extremely smart. He's reading on a 3rd and 4th grade level. He quizzes himself in definitions of words and different ways to spell them (ie steak and stake) he also taught himself multiplication and division. He does have behavior issues though. If he gets bored in school he will keep himself busy making things up to do or making sounds. He also sometimes talks back to his teacher if he doesn't like what she's teaching bc in his mind if he already knows what she's teaching y should he have to listen to her. It's also very hard to keep up with his need for learning. He learns things very quickly and wants to learn different things and he doesn't understand y some other kids take longer at learning things. Anyways to get to my point...academically he's a super star but behavior wise he can be difficult at times. He does have an IEP and he also has a 504 in place both for behavior. If I were u I would contact your districts child study team. They might want to test him themselves though. I don't know how it is with older kids. My district tested my son when he was 4. He also has ADHD as well. His attention is just not there, so the 504 is geared more to ADHD and the IEP more for the asd. Anyways good luck and I hope they grant u the IEP.
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Old 02-21-2014, 11:33 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nixie View Post
I have another question: I have already been told by the school, that we will have problems getting an IEP for him because academically he is doing just fine. He has to be having problems academically to be approved for services. I think this is being a little short sighted. My child isn't having problems academically (because he is ridiculously bright), but he is having problems with the social aspects of school. His behavior has caused problems in school like getting suspended for two days last year. He only does what is asked of him; bare minimum. He probably would get better grades and such if he were to actually apply himself which he doesn't do because of attention issues. SO, because he isn't having actual academic problems, he won't get services like being able to get a "time out" when he is being overwhelmed. They will treat hs outbursts like a behavioral problem and not a symptom of some other issues that are going on. Does that make sense? How do I go about dealing with this and getting the services I think he needs like being able to talk to a counsler at school if he is having a rough day or quiet, less stimulating places for test taking and studying, etc. ??
if your child has a diagnosis he automatically gets an IEPER
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Old 02-21-2014, 11:31 PM   #11
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My understanding is that the only difference is when language skills developed. Kids who had normal language development are diagnosed Asperger's, while language delays signal an Autism diagnosis. I'm pretty much with pp though, no real difference between the two.
didnt read your responses before I replied sorry but that is a bigger difference the. People think
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Old 02-15-2014, 02:59 AM   #12
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One problem that contributes to differing diagnoses is that not all doctors are qualified to make a diagnosis of an Autism spectrum disorder. The best way to obtain an accurate diagnosis is to have a transdisciplinary evaluation.

A transdisciplinary evaluation not only provides an accurate diagnosis but it also is the best way to obtain recommendations for therapeutic and educational programming. Unfortunately, these evaluations are very expensive and often not covered by insurance.
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Old 02-15-2014, 07:38 AM   #13
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One problem that contributes to differing diagnoses is that not all doctors are qualified to make a diagnosis of an Autism spectrum disorder. The best way to obtain an accurate diagnosis is to have a transdisciplinary evaluation.

A transdisciplinary evaluation not only provides an accurate diagnosis but it also is the best way to obtain recommendations for therapeutic and educational programming. Unfortunately, these evaluations are very expensive and often not covered by insurance.
I was just going to ask the OP what testing the doctors/councilor/psychologist have done to get the diagnosis? There are so many doctors out there who just watch a kid for 10 minutes and slap on a diagnosis. A school system may not even take a diagnosis without testing results.
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Old 02-21-2014, 11:29 PM   #14
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The biggest difference between high functioning Autism and aspergers is COMMUNICATION people don't agree, but guess what I have 2 girls on the spectrum I live it daily
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Old 02-22-2014, 12:04 AM   #15
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What is really scary and I totally get parents wanting the Aspergers diagnosis , it was the best thing you could have asked for if you had to have an ASD diagnosis now hindsight is as they say is 20/20 I have 2 DD totally different ends of the spectrum it's not easy it never will be parents have to now decide whether begging for that Aspergers diagnosis was worth it because it just doesn't have any affect anymore
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