Last Leg

Posted: February 9th, 2010 under communication, education, life on the spectrum, parenting, socialization.
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Last week, M- soloed on Thursday and a wild Thursday it was.  Today was a completely different after-class schedule–two buses, but not the same two buses, all the way out of the city to the terminus at Leander.    We dropped him off, asked him to call when he got to campus, and again when he caught the second afternoon bus…or if he had a problem.

No breakdown this time in the second morning bus–he called at 8:05 to say he was there.   No further calls all day, until he called to say he was on the way home, but there was a big traffic jam and it might be later than usual.   We got to the terminus shortly before either of the buses he might be on–he was on the second.    R- asked if he’d used the Learning  Center and its computers between classes (he has a long break, several hours, between the first and second class) and he said he had.  Very pleased with himself, as well he should be.

I told him last week, after the successful solo, that we wouldn’t go with him unless he wanted us to–he didn’t (hurray!)    Hard to believe how much he’s accomplished in just these few weeks.   He’s doing his homework (R- checks to see if he needs some clues, but right now he’s ahead.

OTOH,  he hadn’t told us the tub faucet was dripping (I discovered that) or that the kitchen lights weren’t working (R- discovered that when the plumber came) so today the plumber was at the other house and tomorrow the electrician will install new fixtures in the kitchen.    So though the last leg of travel to and from the campus has been mastered, understanding when to tell the landlord about a problem (we being the landlord in his case)  isn’t there yet.


  • Comment by Sari — February 10, 2010 @ 8:37 am


    Sounds familiar. Takes me back to college, where many classmates lived in squalor rather than bother to communicate with their (non-family) landlords. Does he pay his own utilities? The dripping faucet could be tied to increases in the water bill.


  • Comment by Jeff — February 11, 2010 @ 7:31 am


    Interestingly enough, there was a story on NPR this morning ( that says that the American Psychiatric Association is proposing to eliminate the diagnosis of Asperger’s syndrome as well as Pervasive Developemental Disorder (not otherwise specified), which is what my son has, from the DSM. I’m not sure how I feel about that – I can see both sides of the issue. Merging Asperger’s & PDD within the broad brush of autism would make it easier for parents to obtain resources from schools, but at the expense of longer times to detrmine what treatments are appropiate, which a more specific diagnosis can help with. I’m curious how this strikes you as well.

  • Comment by Elizabeth — February 11, 2010 @ 12:27 pm


    I think there’s a good reason to keep Asperger’s, but not PDD…unless autism and Asperger’s are both subdivisions of PDD.

    One problem is that Asperger’s is a longer name, harder to read, pronounce, spell (for those not actively involved.) Autism is simply easier. Another is that “autism with early speech” is easier to understand.

    But the biggest problem, to me, is that we don’t have a clear understanding of the full range of neuro differences in any of the terms now in use. If lack of delay in developing speech is the only difference between Asperger’s and autism, then it makes sense to consider them identical with a bell curve of speech development…but are the other language difficulties many Asperger’s kids have really identical to the higher language difficulties of autists who learn to speak later? Does anyone know? (I don’t.) Are the sensory difficulties identical in scope? Is there a useful difference between those whose main sensory processing difficulties are auditory v. visual v. tactile? Etc.

    You want diagnostic labels, and distinctions between diagnoses, to fall where they’re useful. I don’t think we have the data for that yet. I think we need an umbrella term (because I think there is a spectrum) but we still need both autism and Asperger’s for at least a while longer. PDD…usually turns out to be autism…but, being unspecific, it could be the umbrella term.

    Then again–APA hasn’t asked me what I think!

    What do YOU think?

  • Comment by Sari — February 11, 2010 @ 4:52 pm


    One label: autism spectrum disorder. Even individuals with classic autism evidence a huge range of behaviors. And, children with Autism often grow into adults whose behaviors better fit the criteria for AS. The PDD-NOS label is meaningless and used simply for those individuals who do not precisely fit the criteria for either AS or autism. My son had a formal dx of PDD-NOS; speech delays after the age of three a ruled out AS. OTOH, he was too verbal and interactive for a dx of Autism.

    I think the recommendation reflects what many doctors are already doing. A dx of ASD rather than Autism or Aspergers will also allow more children access to services. Texas recognizes all PDDs, but that’s not true of every state.


  • Comment by Sandy Schoen — February 17, 2010 @ 12:50 pm


    My vote is for many different labels, or maybe one big label with many subtypes, perhaps as big a label as “Individual Human Being, subtype My Son, who has some ADHD traits”.

    My son’s grade 2 teacher informed us that she knew all about how to handle ADHD kids. We were impressed — at the time.

    It turns out she thought one-size-fit-all. The reality is, many of the things the experts say will help “any kid with ADHD”, actually make him worse.

    Unfortunately, many in the field don’t understand this. They lump them together, perhaps being very proud they know about the inattentive / hyperactive distinction, and believe the book is correct for all with the same label.

    Labels and diagnoses are useful if they lead to better ways to help a person, or to more questions which ultimately lead to better ways to help.

    They can only do this if they are specific enough that individuals don’t get lumped together.

    On the other hand, I understand that the system needs to allocate resources. I’d prefer a system of points. That way, extra resources won’t be ruled out because they don’t fit a specific pattern.

  • Comment by Elizabeth — February 17, 2010 @ 1:43 pm


    There aren’t any easy answers, that’s for sure.

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