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Testimonial from Bryan's Grandmother

Nov 04, 2009 - 6 comments



Asperger's Syndrome






child development

Hi, I am Mariann's mother and Bryan's grandmother.  I was living in Germany when Bryan was born so I didn't meet Bryan until he was over a year old.  Right away I noticed that things just were a little "off" but couldn't put my finger on anything in particular.  He made strange choking noises in the back seat when I took him anywhere.  Mariann took him to the doctor and found out that he had a respiratory problem that an he would outgrow.  She discussed with the doctor at that time that his grandmother felt like there was something else wrong with him but he assured her that Bryan was fine.

His grandfather and I took him to Lake of the Ozarks where he got to ride on a boat and play in a big indoor play area when he was two.  He was not yet potty trained so it was a bit of stretch for us as we had not had to do the diaper thing in 19 years!  He did not interact with the other kids at the playground or with us to any real degree.  He did not laugh, run around, or talk much and again I was concerned that something was not right.  

I remember when he was about 3, I took him to the Missouri Botanical gardens thinking he would like the fountains, lagoon, and playground.  Bryan still did not interact with the other kids and when they came to play with him, he ignored them until they left.  He enjoyed watching the water fountains and got excited which was evidenced by his arm flapping.  I had never seen a kid do that and it seemed odd to me.  Up to this point I was still believing Mariann's story that he was just shy but the evidence was mounting that Bryan was different than other kids in more ways than being shy could explain.  I nagged her all the time about talking to her doctor.  

He was having trouble in day care and preschool but Mariann thought it was the facility or the teacher.  My husband and I often discussed what Bryan was doing or NOT doing as he still was not having much to do with us and the arm flapping was becoming the norm for him.  Bryan started kindergarten and things got really bad.  Once again I heard from Mariann that it was the teacher or the school but then the teacher asked her to slip in sometime during the day and observe Bryan's behavior.  Mariann told me in tears that she did not recognize the child in the classroom as her son because his behavior was so violent.  Bryan had never exhibited violence at home but he was used to the sights and sounds of home.

We lived in Germany for much of Bryan's early years so I only heard 2nd hand what was going on.  When he was finally tested, it came as a surprise to me that he was autistic because I had a different idea of autism than the way Bryan behaved.  When I heard "aspergers syndrome", I hurried to the computer and started my research to learn everything I could about it.  NOW I saw Bryan in everything I read and I understood the arm flapping, the outrageous behavior in loud environments, the lack of interaction with others, and the delayed speech and potty training.  My heart went out to Mariann when she told me how the rest of the family reacted to her news that Bryan had Aspergers Syndrome which was a form of autism.  Bryan had not changed but suddenly the family viewed him differently AND they accused Mariann of making it up or some how being responsible for him being autistic.  I don't know how she dealt with it but she focused on doing what needed to be done to help Bryan.  

I kept Bryan along with his brother the first summer we were back in the States and that was an eye opener.  He totally lacked empathy with anyone and he didn't seem to understand that his behavior was unacceptable with others when he was verbally or physically abusive.  Seeing him side-by-side with his brother made his autism even more apparent to me.  He didn't respond when I called him or asked him something like he was in his own little world.  I would have to go over to  touch him before he would even acknowledge that I had spoken to him. It was a long summer but we made it through with my learning a lot about daily life with Bryan.  

The next summer I kept him as well as his brother and sister.  It was a nightmare.  One year made such a difference.  Bryan was constantly needing to be taken out of situations with the neighborhood kids.  They didn't take well to being called stupid or threatened with words like "I'm going to kill you".  Bryan was hitting his brother so hard that he left marks and I kept seeing the day coming when he would do real physical harm to someone.  I didn't know how to discipline him because he didn't mind time out since he enjoyed being alone and talking to him about how the other person felt did nothing as he couldn't relate to that.  Things came to head that summer when the new toy I had bought for his brother was thrown down into the woods by Bryan because Jack didn't want to do something Bryan wanted to do.  I made Bryan give Jack the toy I had bought for Bryan and then scavenge the woods for Jack's toy.  He didn't.  He sat down and looked from a stationary position which angered me so much that I had to leave.  Later I took him for a drive and we talked but it was really me talking.  That is when I realized that I probably could not control the situation as he got older without learning more about alternative ways of disciplining.  He was not responding to any of the tried and true methods I had used as a parent.  

This last summer his behavior was improved or I had done my homework and learned a little more.  He now speaks to me when he sees me after constant reminders that manners dictate that you speak a greeting when seeing someone for the first time that day.  He still does not have conversations but instead we have monologues with him describing in detail the last movie he saw or gory details about dinosaur fights.  Bryan fixates on a subject and learns everything about it to the point that all else is ignored.  He is so smart that he can retain all that information and understand it.  Unfortunately, he just doesn't understand that not everyone is interested in the same thing.  His social skills have improved as he gets older but it is a constant effort on the part of Mariann to force him to speak to people and interact at a level he is not comfortable.  This year he is doing great in school and I can see him trying things he never did before.  It is like watching a flower ever so slowly bloom.  

I know that Bryan will be okay but that he will struggle all his life to fit in.  I am constantly sending Mariann success stories of others who have Aspergers and are now journalists, doctors, musicians, etc.  She doesn't need the reassurance but I do and I hope it shows her that I am still trying to understand Aspergers and how I can help Bryan.

May the Lord bless and keep you!

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Avatar universal
by hjeksner, Dec 08, 2009
Hi Valerie, maybe you want to read "Healing the New Childhood Epidemics: Autism, ADHD, Asthma, and Allergies" by Kenneth Bock. It may help you in addressing the problem Bryan is facing and make things easier on your family. Best wishes, Julia Eksner

Avatar universal
by johnnylight, Dec 08, 2009
Hi Valerie, look into Lyme Disease some Docs believe Lyme can cause rage and cause a slew of neuro symptoms and i heard of autistic kids and add, adhd getting finally diagnosed with Lyme and treated with abx. Lyme is the great imitator and can mimic so many things that is why Dr. ray Jones says to rule out Lyme Disease first by a Lyme expert because i went 7 years and 30 docs before Lyme Literate help me get diagnosed properly.

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by toriree, Dec 08, 2009
Grandma to Grandma---It is frustrating and worrisome, but I think  there is a lot of information and help for you, Bryan and Mariann. Even though my grandchild was finally diagnosed with something a little less than Asperger's, he too exhibited similar behavior. He did not crawl and was not "interactive" and he would flap his arms when excited. But he is now in the 6th grade--and being home schooled, which seemed the only option after finding our school system was not very capable. He has trouble staying with anything, but he is learning -perhaps much better than anyone ever expected.In fact he is learning things through home schooling that his brother learned in college!  He has  a few friends who have similar life struggles and they plan for play dates often. He is very loving and caring, which was something we all thought was not ever going to happen-he too had anger and temper control issues, but his parents took control and he has learned what is acceptable and what is not. It worries all of us about what his adult life will hold, but hopefully he will be able to find his niche  and be able to function in it.

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by sleepsound, Dec 08, 2009
Hi son has Aspergers syndrome .....we found out at age eight and he is now seventeen....he as friends , even a girl friend but is not working yet ..he is in training for people with disabilities.
People are a mystery to him , he   is bright but unable to do numbers or organise very well...different probs keep popping up but we deal with them as they do .
Money is a big issue he has no idea about it so spends without a care
School was  a nightmare...we fought for him ...and guess what....were still fighting for him
But i wouldnt swap him for anyone he is caring  and has a beautiful smile....yes it gets him into and out of trouble lol
anyhow good luck

there great kids ps my son is an olympic gold swimmer at age 13 and 17

love jacquie xxx

Avatar universal
by witchypoo64, Dec 08, 2009
From another Grandma, about Aspergers, with which my 15yr old grandson has been diagnosed. From a young age Nicholas has had constant problems with relating to anyone except his father whom he used to greet with great joy each evening. He also was locked downstairs in a room alone, as he used to wander around at night. He used to sit against the door and just bang his head for hours. Also had repetitive actions like slamming a door, watching it all the time. It was hard to attract his attention too, and to get him to focus. By 15, he is relating better to other people, but we have had years of his slowly, hesitantly, repeating blow for blow the latest video or game that he has mastered, and I have protested to my son and daughter in law about using the T.V. for a babysitter - to Nicholas detriment.  He was brilliant at doing jigsaws when he was quite small. Sadly there have been birthday parties made for him at which all the invitees have declined on the day to come...only his Junior teacher attending. My heart bled at these times for him, and for his future. His Mother is a difficult person who suffers with Obsessive Compulsive behaviours which she will not acknowledge are a problem. She is not at all warm-hearted with the children, treating them as though they are a nuisance, taking a bullying style with them... so this complicates the problem. How do you force a Mother to face her own problems? Nicholas has a sister with Juvenile Arthritis, and an older sister who ran away from home repeatedly for a year before making a new life for herself. These 'disruptions ' to his existence have resulted in his 'going backwards' in his progress. Sadly I see a boy who has 'gone into himself' again. We live too far away to be of real daily help to my son - who has aged so much with these problems! There is also a younger boy, now 8, who is 'slow' to a degree..I feel partly because his Mother has opted out of caring for him. She stays in her 'office' most days, on the Net, doing books for various charity or church groups (free), and attending to beading - with which she is fascinated to the degree of Compulsion to do it for many hours each day. She sells a miniscule part of these beading works and is on t he Net buying beads or talking with other beaders across the World scene. She volunteers to teach recorder music at the childrens' school, so they see her there every day in that environment...she recently recited to me that the Staff have given her permission to 'send a child to the quiet room' or to speak to any child she sees which needs 'pulling into line'. I feel that she imagines she IS a teacher, so makes herself feel important.
It appears to me that she has made a little world for herself in which she feels safe and in the controlling position, a cocoon in fact! From which she will not venture unless propelled. There is definitely 'something wrong' with her that I am not able to help. I have suggested to my son that he takes the key to the 'office' and insists that his wife BE  a wife and Mother.
WHOOPS, sorry to make this an Epistle...........any Psychiatrist who cares to comment - it will be welcome. Nicholas Nanna M.

Avatar universal
by bigblues101, Dec 17, 2009
I have Asperger's Syndrome since I was 6 and at the time it wasn't well known and I use to wonder what was wrong with me, I hope one day a cure will be made.

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