?Aspergers and emotional trauma

Hi, not sure if anyone is in the same boat as us. DS1 is 11, we adopted him and his brother (full siblings) aged 4 + 2.

In June 2011 - DS1 was diagnosed with PTSD and complex grief reaction. Subsequently in October 2011 he started undergoing EMDR therapy.

In January 2012, at the advice of the professionals involved with his care we removed DS1 from mainstream education and he started attending CAMHS day unit and a hospital school.

Over the past few weeks there has been discussion of Social Communication Difficulty, initially thought to be linked to attachment. However we were then asked to fill in some questionnaires and we provided some nursery reports that came with the boys at the time of adoption, to look for evidence of ASD.

This week, having spoken to the nurse in charge of DS1's care at the CAMHS day unit, I have been advised that at the final assessment next week they will be recommending to the Consultants that DS1 ticks near enough every box for Aspergers (the first time this has ever been mentioned to us). The psychologist responsible for the therapy who sees DS1 weekly has already expressed a reluctance in making a formal diagnosis of ASD as there is evidence to the contrary in the therapy sessions.

At the end of April my husband and I have a meeting to discuss the outcome of his time in the Day Unit.

We are struggling on many levels with DS1 behaviour, but having looked at info on Aspergers we can recognise many traits that DS1 exhibits. However the added issue of emotional trauma makes this a complex situation.

On another forum it was suggested that we do not concentrate on waiting for the dx but deal solely with the behaviour issues. The problem with this is the way we deal with DS1 is different as we do not want to exacerbate the symptoms of the emotional trauma whilst dealing with day to day stuff. He is extremely agitated at the moment (may be due to the holiday routine changing) and in a very fragile state of mind.

Has anyone else experienced similar issues in dealing with Aspergers and emotional trauma who may be able to offer us some advice, help us to see the way forward and how we can best support our family as we go through this?

Thanks for reading.

  • Hi there - I don't know if this will help but it might:-

    I was diagnosed as high functioning autism (possibly Aspergers) in my 30's.

    As a child and teenager I was detached, awkward socially and uncommunitcative but bright at school and did well academically and no-one questioned that.  I was seen as a difficult teenager but this was put down to a traumatic experience as a child. I was initially diagnosed as PTSD but the help offered did not help because the PTSD was masking the HFA - thus as a young adult I cut myself off from everyone and everything because I was so confused all the time.

    Since the HFA diagnosis things have improved for me because I understand myself better and am now dealing with the traumas from my childhood.

    The result is I now have no-one socially and reply on my (wonderful) Mum for everything.

    It seems to me that when there are different factors in an individual the agencies who deal with these things get themselves in a knot and I suspect it will come down to trying to offload someone so they aren't burdened with costs!

    I find to cope with both HFA and PTSD I need certain things in place such as my routine, the support of my Mum who can deal with meltdowns and knows what to do, protection from other people who disrupt me and respect for my needs and space.I know this isn't always easy for others but I am now able to hold down a job! (Wow!) and lead a structured, useful life.

    It's about others accepting you as you are with whatever you have, be it HFA/ASD/PTSD/ADHD etc etc and not trying to make you 'normal'.  I know I'm different to others but I also know I matter and want to contribute to society.


    It's about discerning the different needs from each aspect of who the person is and dealing with them as needed. I know other stuff overlaps but you have to learn what causes problems with ASD and PTSD and then put stuff in place (with help) to deal with that. When the overlaps occur it is a balancing act but finding ways of managing meltdown helps - it took us some years to do this but now Mum knows what to do, it's good and I carry an Autism Alert card which has proved very helpful so people phone her up and she comes and gets me and helps me cope better.


    Does that help?  I hope so, gosh I've gone on haven't I?

  • Thank you so much for responding and for your honesty. I do understand what you are saying and as a family, we are going to try our best, to do what is best for our boy. 

    Interesting to hear about the Autism Alert Card, I had not heard of that but further on down the line this will be a useful thing for him to have on him in case he needs help.

    We will continue to try to find ways of managing his meltdowns and keeping him safe and protected as best we can, whilst encouraging his independence as much as possible.

    Again, many thanks for the insight into your life and wishing you only the best of things for the future.Smile

  • You can get the Autism Alert card from this site - check the shop out.

  • Hi,

    I have a diagnosis of PTSD from complex trauma that started in early childhood. I suspect that I may be autistic but as yet not be tested due to advice that treatment of PTSD should be done first. When I was younger my behaviour was sometimes rather incomprehensible. I think that the most useful thing for your son will be to try to work out as far as possible a best guess of the reason behind each behaviour as it occurs. Think about what need might not be being met, what sensitivities might be leading to overwhelm, what action might be needed to allow the feelings pass without the situation escalating or becoming dangerous. A repetitive but easy action that requires a little bit of thought sometimes helps me.