A National Institutes of Health website defines Asperger syndrome as an autism spectrum disorder (ASD) characterized by “impairment in language and communication skills, as well as repetitive or restrictive patterns of thought and behavior.”
Tina Mundy of Bethel, Ohio, reads this column in the Georgetown (Ohio) News Democrat. Last year, doctors diagnosed her 7-year-old son Noah with Asperger syndrome.
‘When he was three,’ said 31-year-old Mundy in a telephone interview, ‘Noah was having temper tantrums that flared up easily, started talking in the third person, and his eye contact was getting less and less. He didn’t play like our older two children did.’
When Noah was five, and playing soccer, another ‘soccer mom’ suggested to Mundy that Noah might have autism. Her son hadn’t been responding to the coach’s questions, would not respond to his name when called, and was often off by himself. The other mom had three daughters with Asperger syndrome.
‘So we went to the pediatrician,’ said Mundy, ‘and he asked if we’d heard of Asperger syndrome.’
The pediatrician couldn’t give an official diagnosis. Mundy and her husband went to a library, read books on Asperger syndrome, and realized her son had it. Even before their hunch became official, which happened two years later, the Mundys began implementing recommendations from various books.
To learn more, they rented ‘Mozart and the Whale,’ a movie about a man and woman, both with Asperger syndrome, who fall in love and cope with life.
Said Mundy: ‘We learned some children (with ASD) have sensory processing disorder, such as [an aversion] to certain noises or textures. For instance, with Noah, he didn’t like wearing shoes and would take them off in class. He would find one comfortable shirt and would want to wear it every day.’
At noisy social events or venues, the Mundys give Noah ‘rifle range’ ear muffs to wear, which helps calm him, and they use soothing ‘brush therapy.’
Also, his parents always carry copies of a physician’s letter that explains Noah’s behavior. ‘If he should have a [behavioral incident] in public, he could cause a scene,’ said Mundy. ‘Sometimes, we have to physically hold and remove him from an area. Our fear was that someone would think we were doing something abusive. So we carry a copy of our pediatrician’s letter in our wallets.’ So far, they haven’t had to use it.