Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Aspies and Wookiees

This is me with my boy.

He is my #1 fan (he wanted you to know this).   He is also funny and smart - voted Most Likely to Become President, say what!?

Did I mention, he is sweet, handsome and has been diagnosed with Asperger's Syndrome and ADHD?  Yes, if you are wondering, I did ask him if it was okay to share this with you.  He said, "Sure mom, thanks for asking!" (That's my boy!)

This is the definition of Asperger's, according to the world-renowned Mayo Clinic.

Asperger's syndrome is a developmental disorder that affects a child's ability to socialize and communicate effectively with others. Children with Asperger's syndrome typically exhibit social awkwardness and an all-absorbing interest in specific topics. 

Doctors group Asperger's syndrome with other conditions that are called autistic spectrum disorders or pervasive developmental disorders. These disorders all involve problems with social skills and communication. Asperger's syndrome is generally thought to be at the milder end of this spectrum. 

Sam is definitely on the milder end of the spectrum.  He looks like every other 12-year-old boy (except he's cuter!)  But those who know him best, his teachers and family, are aware of his 'Aspies' tendencies that can often cause frustration, confusion and affect his relationships, as well as his performance in school.  This diagnosis will allow us to access all of the incredible resources and programs that are now available for kids just like him.

The 'all-absorbing interest in specific topics' for my boy at this time is Star Wars.  Here he is as the evil Darth Vader, with his friend Iron Man.

His hero is George Lucas.  He reads about Star Wars, talks about Star Wars, watches Star Wars and, I would guess, dreams about Wookiees and clone troopers. Thanks to Uncle Gary, he has an endless supply of Star Wars tshirts.

When he grows up, he wants to be a director, like George Lucas.  He also has another obsession - LEGO.  Star Wars + LEGO = perfection!  While these obsessions can, at times drive older sisters (and parents) crazy, it is this single-mindedness that can allow Aspies to become experts in their field of choice.  Now, we just have to figure out how to meet up with George Lucas!

Another common issue with Aspie's is extreme food selectivity.  Much of this is due to sensory issues.  This is certainly the case with our boy.  Because of this, we were referred to a nutritionist, to help us deal with his food sensitivity and broaden his food palate.

We just went this week and it was a very informative visit.  I know that many of you have children on the spectrum, dealing with these very same issues.  So, I thought I would pass along some of the advice the nutritionist gave us.

In a nutshell, these are the foods that research has shown, should be avoided
~ synthetic food additives ~ MSG, artifical sweeteners, flavors and coloring
~ pesticides (organic whenever possible)
~ refined sugar
~ trans fats
This is one that the nutritionist says is especially critical, something about EPA/DHA and brain synapse.  I'm still trying to understand it.

The following are critical for brain health
~ a well-rounded diet with sufficient protein, carbs and fat
~ proper nutritional supplements
~ water
~ Omega-3 fatty acid supplement

Amazing, isn't it, how fat has gotten such a bad rap.  It is vital, in the proper forms, for the maintenance of normal brain function.

The nutritionist also gave us some great mealtime strategies and steps to introduce new foods into his diet.  I won't share them here, but I would be happy to pass them along, if you are interested.  I feel a bit overwhelmed with all that I have learned and so I am taking a deep breath and focusing on one thing at a time.

Obviously, I am not a doctor, I don't even play one on tv.  If you have used some of these tips for yourself or your own child and can confirm or deny their effectiveness, I would love to hear from you.  Starting tomorrow, we will begin gradually implementing these strategies.  We'll let you know how well it works!  This is a new journey for us, the wonderful world of Asperger's - and I look forward to connecting with others that are on this journey.


  1. I aspies. Especially Sam Rutledge.

  2. That is supposed to say "heart" but it was oddly edited out.

  3. Aunt Karen that was very goood.. I just love SAM.. he is soo cute..So glad to call him my cuz.. See you all at Christmas.. God willing.. xoxo

  4. I am glad you have been able to get access to some great resources. Brody (our youngest) is on the autism spectrum, but doesn't seems to display food sensitivities except to red dye. He does, however, have notable sensory issues. Thank you for sharing about Sam. And thanks, Sam, for letting your mom!!!

  5. Thanks T and Kim! I will pass along the love to Sam!

    Timmarie, would LOVE to sit down some day and share. It's been too long.

  6. Hi Jenny , I'm Rod from the NZ Aspire trust which is a trust which supports children with Aspergers in education. I am the President and have Aspergers myself.I love your blog well done. I see it was made in 2010 though. How are things going now?

  7. Karen for Jenny and PearlDecember 2, 2011 at 9:04 PM

    Rod, Thanks for your interest. We are still struggling in the food dept., but Sam's doing well in junior high. He has a great support team at school and good friends at school and church.