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Gifted Children/gifted or aspergers?

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My son is in Gr.2 and his teacher tells me she thinks he has aspergers syndrome. I don't believe he does, but I'm very open minded. I've taken him to three different pediatricians and one psychologist.

When my son was in Gr.1 his teacher told me she thought he had adhd. He was talking out of turn, fidgeting, very emotional, putting kids down, curling up in a ball, hiding under desks. The list goes on. He told me that the helper in the class was mean to him, and that every time he would talk out or turn (which was always related to the topic# she would snap at him. He would get sent to sit outside of the class and he told me that he felt like a "bad kid". His confidence became so low he often told me that he didn't have a place in this world and wondered why God had made him so annoying. This broke my heart. I took him to his first pediatrician and he gave me and the teacher some forms to fill out. Our adhd checklist assessment was not the same, because he does not act the same at home as he does at school. The pediatrician said he didn't think he had adhd, or aspergers. He commented on his vocabulary. I ended up taking him out of the class after he screamed in the hallway "I want to kill myself!" I home schooled him.

I took him to see a psychologist who told me that he DID NOT have adhd, but would like to give him an IQ test, because of the way he carried a conversation with him, which he later said would probably be useless because he was only seven. He told me he thought he had severe anxiety and was very smart.

I then took him to a second pediatrician who spoke all but one word to my son, and came to the conclusion that he was adhd based on the teachers notes and what I had told him. He was ready to write me out a prescription right then and there. Never saw him again.

That brings us to this year in Gr.2. Teacher says she thinks he has aspergers because he has hard time keeping on task, refuses to do his work, only wants to do what he wants to do, sits in a wobbly chair, constantly chats to the other kids, constantly interrupts (on topic, tries to share his knowledge with class), always gets out of his chair to talk to other kids or do something different, messy and does not like written output. She also says he is brilliant at math, reading (way beyond his reading level), vocabulary.

I remember when my son was 10 days old he started crying and wouldn't stop (or so it felt). He was colicky and wouldn't sleep (still hates going to sleep). Once in a while he would have fits of crying that were inconsolable. His eyes would be wide and scared looking. These bursts would usually occur if there were a large group of people around. He continued with these fits until his later years but they changed. His fits looked like a panic attack where he couldn't breath. Usually would happen if he was getting in trouble and he felt like he was a "bad person". He hasn't had one in a long time. At the age of two my son was crazy about Thomas he memorized every train and talked about them all day. He wouldn't let them out of his hands, he would sleep with them. He was very easy to teach as well, he knew his ABCs', colours, shapes, and numbers. his vocabulary was amazing by age three. Most people thought he was older than his age, and still do. His obsessions changed constantly. At age four he had most of the dinosaur names memorized. Once he learns everything there is for him to know on one topic he moves onto the next. At the moment he is reading all about maps, and where certain animals are from in the world. He always needs the measurement to things, loves to play with measuring tape. He is constantly talking about the things that he's learned. Oh my i could go on for hours!!!
So recently I took him to his third pediatrician to see if he had aspergers. She spoke with him for a while and said that he definitely did not have it. Because he can have an intellectual conversation with someone, where its not just one sided. And also because he is very social and has friends, there were other reason too. She thinks he is "gifted". I was very happy to hear this, but it doesn't help with the problems in school. His teacher didn't seem very happy about it. She thinks there is something else there and for me to keep looking. This kinda crushed me.
My son is a very complicated person, and very hard to deal with at times. He has made many improvements recently though, I think mainly because I've had some help through mental health. They have given me a lot of strategies to work with. I think the most important one being, to stay calm. It is exhausting though, constantly answering his never ending questions and dealing with his strong headedness. So I guess my question is...what do you think? Do you think he is gifted, aspergers, adhd...I know I'm getting sick of all these labels and wish he could just be himself. I wish I could give his teacher some good advice because she told me that she was at her wits end with him. I'm so sorry about how long this is, but this has consumed my life...please help.

Answer
This is a very difficult situation.  My original response was to tell you I cannot comment because it is so complicated, consuming and uncertain.  My heart though, responds to the stress you're under, and if I can give you even a couple ideas for managing stress, I want to do so. I don't know the school and health care systems in Canada, how much freedom you have to try different ways of helping or options for his care.

Mental health and learning disabilities are so difficult because they can be present at the same time, change from day to day and have ways of swinging back and forth from day to day, week to week.......and so on.  In your son's case I don't know if there has been adequate testing of his body's health, emotional health, testing of the nervous system including the brain, and intelligence testing. That is what's needed, in a systematic way by people qualified to do so.  In the US it's often referred to as "neuropsychiatric evaluation." I don't know if that's possible in your system.

Do you have people to rely on to support you emotionally, help you make decisions and bear some of the burden of the care and decision making?  I don't know if his father is helping out with that.  Problems like yours can break up marriages and tear families apart.  If you are able to get counseling for yourself, and/or counseling with his father you deserve to have that.  It's too intense for any parent to be bearing alone.  If you have a belief in God or a church to which you belong, seek those for getting comfort.  These kinds of situations often are worse if there is a problem with alcohol, prescribed or street drugs being used and that must stop or things can't get better.  It's important to consider if there is physical or sexual abuse occurring in your son or anyone involved.  I'm not saying that is the problem in your family, but the questions must be asked.

A few things you can do, that can help relieve stress, your's and your son's, is to have some reassuring behaviors and rituals.  As often as you can, as many times a day as you can, give your son little affectionate touches, a pat on the cheek, brushing hair back from his forehead. a gentle pat on the head or back, and encouraging words like "I'm glad you're my son," or "I like to hug you," things like that.  Set aside a few minutes a day for fun. Be silly, laugh together, have nothing but lots of ice cream for a whole dinner one night, a water-balloon fight or a battle with silly string or whipped cream for ammunition.  Have pillow fights. Put on old clothes and fingerpaint each other.  Life will feel very different with even a few minutes of fun here and there. You can find ideas for fun on the Internet.  "Free Spirit Publishing" (www.freespirit.com) and you can find books and information for helping you understand and work with the situation.

If your son says he is going to harm himself , kill himself or hurt someone else, if you feel like you might hurt him or yourself, get help immediately. Go to the nearest hospital or call the police or crisis center for help.

IF YOU ARE MARRIED MAKE YOUR MARRIAGE HIGH PRIORITY. I CAN'T EMPHASIZE THAT ENOUGH.

You are always welcome to write to me again.  Let me know how things go.

I wanted to add this: There is an answer posted 3/4/13 "Gifted Child"  in which another mother worn out by the constant questions wrote to me.  Toward the end of her answer there's a paragraph that starts, "You don't have to keep your child occupied at all times." That's a good section for you to read.

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Faith A. Coleman MD

Expertise

No questions are off-limits. My strengths are understanding what questioners are really trying to ask, knowing the right questions to get to useful answers, and putting complicated, subject-specific words and concepts into language accessible to lay-persons. The topic is fascinating and can be surprising, the opposite of what might logically seem expected of giftedness. I am skilled in identifying giftedness at any age, including very early in life.

Experience

Children constitute about one-third of the patients in a Family Medicine practice. I was Director of Children's and Women's Public Health Education Programs with the Northeast Texas Public Health District. I have two highly gifted children, one of whom attended Roeper School, listed first in this site's Sponsored Links. I was the health expert for Roeper's board of directors; I maintain contacts there. I'm on the board of directors of several organizations of which I'm a member. I spent a summer as the Medical Director of a camp for kids with ADD, ADHD, and psychiatric disorders. Editor, Medical Economics Publishing Co. licensure to teach K-12 in Oklahoma, with added qualification in Journalism

Organizations
Champions for Children: Advocacy, resources, quality assessment, for early childhood daycare (Board of Directors). American Academy of Family Physicians. Michigan Academy of Family Physicians Society of Teachers of Family Medicine. READ: Advocacy, education, resources for teaching and encouraging literacy in adults. East Texas Network for Children (Planning Board).

Publications
Journals: Medical Economics, Contemporary OB/Gyn, Diagnostic Medicine. Albuquerque Journal Daily, Tyler Daily News, New Mexico Daily Lobo, New Citizen Weekly, Alpena News, daily.

Education/Credentials
BA, Journalism MD University of New Mexico School of Medicine. Internship, Detroit Medical Center. Family Practice Residency, Top-100 Hospital - Beaumont. Clinical Faculty appointments to three medical schools. Faculty, Family Practice Residency, Detroit area.

Awards and Honors
Two official commendations awarded by United States Army for service and contributions to young soldiers and families. Publishing Internship, Medical Economics Publishing Company. Research Internship, Hastings Institute of Society, Ethics, and the Life Sciences. Woman Medical Student of the Year. Numerous others.

Past/Present Clients
As above in experiences, publications and awards. Many thousands of patient/family encounters.

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