Help me understand ASD and Asperger's vs. Sensory Processing Dysfunction - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 7 Old 03-31-2007, 08:22 AM - Thread Starter
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What a relief to find you all here. I haven't visited Mothering boards since my daughter was born last July. Now, with DS well into Kindergarten, the unique and different behaviors I've always noticed have become an issue at school. We have him in a private school, and they have been wonderful so far. The OT assessed him and found SPD, but did not specifically mention ASD or Aspergers. When I read the description, I think perhaps the reason he has SPD is because of an underlying Aspergers or HF Autism condition.
I plan to discuss all of this with the OT of course, but would love to hear from you mamas. I have ordered The Out-Of-Sync Child, and a couple of other SPD/SID books, but wonder if I should be reading a little about ASD too.
Thanks so much for any pointers, I'm new on this path and have a lot to learn.
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#2 of 7 Old 03-31-2007, 09:13 AM
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"A Parent's Guide to Asperger Syndrome and High-Functioning Autism" by Sally Ozonoff has a chapter explaining the differences among the various diagnoses.

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#3 of 7 Old 03-31-2007, 09:54 AM
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In my limited, mama-based experience... it's complicated. Different specialists can look at the same child and focus on different aspects their abilities.

Our OT thought ds was primarily SID, as he is an intense sensory-seeker. In fact, his SID side has to be dealt with before he can get centered enough to focus for learning. In this OT's view, ds is primarily SID and that blurs into a secondary ASD.

Others look at ds and get focused on global developmental delays, which lends itself to more of the ASD as primary.

I realize that which dx can determine what therapies a child gets. In our case, a specific dx isn't necessary b/c ds is still so young (just turned 3). But even when a dx is necessary, just b/c one researcher/therapist/dr/author splits the world one way doesn't mean others (or you) have to agree.

I think most of us agree to help/love/treat the child and not just the dx.
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#4 of 7 Old 03-31-2007, 12:45 PM
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There probably is over-lap (in that say a kiddo who can't differentiate sound important from other is going to respond in ways similar to a spectrum kiddo though for different reasons (well, at least partially).

What I think, though, is that if a kiddo is showing the relational aspects of spectrum disorders for whatever reason I would work with him with autism interventions. Weak in an area is weak. And if they are weak in enough areas for an autism diagnosis...well it is just a label and technically they qualify for the label. Labels can be helpful to a child I think as they get older. I've gathered that from reading several books of those who went into adolescence or adulthood undiagnosed and with no explanation for their struggles or differences. I think that makes it harder. I think it can also be helpful for parents too in terms of deciding how best to help their child.

I'm babbling. Ok, my favorite link for trying to figure out if a child might be on the spectrum is Ignore the must have two from section 1, etc. as that is for a straight autism dx. and your son certainly wouldn't meet that. It explains more later. There was a site someone posted a bit back where you could answer questions and it would tell you by score if the child might fall there. I wish I would have bookmarked that.
Sensory checklist. http://www.sensory-processing-disord...checklist.html

Thing is my understanding is that every (most..never say never I guess) spectrum child has sensory integration issues. But you can have SID without autism. In that case, though, I don't think you'd be seeing the autism stuff as well. I'm saying that because I undoubtedly met the criteria for SID as a child had they been looking for that 34 years ago. However, I don't meet the autism criteria and didn't then (other than things like had to wear certain clothes and other sensory related things). My relations/social aspects would not have had PDD characteristics. And I would have sailed through the autism interventions (floor time, RDI) that my son is clearly needing.

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#5 of 7 Old 03-31-2007, 04:02 PM
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Our son was diagnosed with mild-moderate SPD last year -- I had him assessed because he was entering kindergarten and I suspected that his 'quirks' were going to become an issue as things got more academic. Some days I swear he's a clone of my brother, who had difficulty in school, and never really had a diagnosis. But, having read about SPD, I can see many of those traits in my brother (and my dh), and how they could interfere with an ability to learn. He was able to function in every day, but I could tell it was taking all of his energy to do so.

Ds' issues are: hypersensitivity to touch and sound, hypersensitivity to vestibular movement, bilateral coordination and weak core stability. He's made huge progress in the year he's been in OT. While I've worried at times about ds being on the autism spectrum, I don't think he is. He "gets" social interaction in a way that kids that I know are on the spectrum just don't. I went to a talk sponsored by our son's OT about social development, and the list of skills that they talked about working on with children on the spectrum were things ds has been doing for years. He's not great about labeling or identifying emotions, which is the only area that concerns me a bit.

I guess I see the autism spectrum as a huge continuum -- on one end there are people who are clearly on the spectrum and have considerable developmental issues. On the other end, there are people (like my SIL) who so clearly do not have any traits of autism that using the term with them seems absurd. But, then there are many, many people in between. The dividing line been 'typical' and 'autism' is an arbitrary one, and might be fuzzy. Our son's sensory issues put him closer to that line that our dd is, but he's still not on the spectrum (no issues with language, play or social skills).

I don't think it's a bad idea to read about ASD as well, just to see. OTs aren't qualified to make an autism spectrum diagnosis anyway, but you could talk to the OT and see what she thinks about having him assessed for that.

But, it's definitely possible to have SPD and not anything else. My dh is that way, his aunt is that way (if ever anyone needed OT she does - I have no idea how she spent 25 years as a school music teacher!)

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#6 of 7 Old 04-01-2007, 01:50 AM
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#7 of 7 Old 04-01-2007, 11:47 PM
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I don't think the OT is the one to discuss it with. They deal with sensory and occupational functioning. Not neuropsychological diagnosis.
If it was a speech therapist I'd say the same- she could point out speech and language issues but I'd not except- or want- her to have an opinion about your kid's diagnosis. Sometimes, asking the wrong professional can send you on the wrong path. Even asking the right professional, you'd want them to do many hours testing and observation before forming their opinion.

I think you should read about ASD, like that book Faye recommends, and if it sounds right, you go to a developmental pediatrician or a pediatric neuropsych for your answers.

So yeah, let the OT do her OT thing, and read about ASD to see if there's more for you to check out.

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and The Nurture Center Store and Resource Center 3399 Mt Diablo Bl Lafayette CA 888-998-BABY
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