I don’t think so but I do think we can help our children to manage the symptoms and learn to interact successfully and confidently with the mainstream world. This report regarding an American study published in 2012 seems to agree with me.
The report cites a study which tracked 7000 autistic children in California between 1992 and 2001. The study showed that both high functioning and low functioning children could improve over time and that some of the low functioning cohort actually moved into the high functioning category during the course of the study.
In my experience we as parents have it in our power to change the future for our children.
I have a fairly ordinary Asperger’s story. My son beautiful but bewilderingly difficult to manage was not diagnosed until he turned 8 and school just seemed to become overwhelming for him, or alternatively the school were overwhelmed by him.
The pain of all those years of dealing with daily negative reports from teachers and his classmates, and ostracism in the playground for him and I was immense and I was so often reduced to tears. We were often summoned to the school and he and I endured his shame and regret. I realised just what I was putting him through one day when I walked through the school gates and immediately felt the grab of anxiety in my chest. If I felt this what was he feeling?
We moved schools! For 6 months we had some success in this quiet little school. My son had a lovely teacher who seemed to get him. Unfortunately after 6 months this teacher moved on and after a week with the new teacher the behaviour started again. My son found school frightening and was prepared to do what was needed to escape. If that meant behaving badly in order to be suspended that is what he would do! This was not in my mind calculated manipulation but rather the reaction of someone who was really terrified, whose back was up against a wall.
I decided then and there that we would not play that game anymore. Mainstream schooling was just not going to work. I had already spent time looking for alternative schooling options and there weren’t any. Schools were not willing to take on a child with a history of aggressive melt downs.
I could see my son slipping away from me before my eyes. I was terrified of a future that included either jail or mental institutions. I was equally terrified of home schooling my son. He was big, strong and defiant. How was I to cope without any respite from him what so ever? He had kicked our back screen door in, threatened me with a knife, shoved me and frequently verbally abused me.
I realised I had no choice! I hoped that I was right in my belief that most of the poor behaviour was associated with school attendance, crossed my fingers and leapt in.
WOW! Removing school from our lives was salvation for him and our family. Not immediate salvation but slowly and steadily things improved. Today he is back at school. He chose to return late in year 8 and after a very careful transition he is now attending year 11 full time with plans to go on to Uni. He has friends and plays and coaches basketball. This year he is taking on his first paid job and we have organised his first bank account.
I can’t say that we don’t still have to manage his anxieties or that he never shows any Aspiness but I can say that I am no longer worried for his future. I know that he will be able to find his way.
The study I mentioned earlier noted that children from higher socio-economic groups tended to do better. I know that in our case we were fortunate that we could live on one income so I could devote myself to my son’s education. In Queensland home schooling is barely tolerated let alone supported and there are no other fulltime permanent schooling options for primary school children with disruptive behaviour apart from distance education. Distance Education was also not an option for my child as he was so traumatised by his school experience that he was frightened by anything that looked like school work.
Many families desperately need access to early years low stimulation educational environments for children who find the mainstream environment stressful. Children can then have a gentler introduction into the educational environment and anxieties can be faced and worked through slowly. I believe that we were successful because we reduced my son’s stress load down to a level where he was able to function rationally. I wish that opportunity was available to all families.
I am the mother of two children 15 and 13. In another life I was a high school teacher and have also completed a bachelor of psychology. I write a blog and twitter as ParentontheEdge and am aiming to connect with other parents who struggle with children with disruptive behaviour. Many of these children have diagnoses but many do not as they are too high functioning to meet available diagnostic criteria. I am attempting to write anonymously to protect my son from the public glare; he has had enough rejection in his life. You can catch me at