Aspie Digest - November 27, 2006
I haven't updated the Digest in a while, mainly because I didn't have much to say. It's time for an update, though. LilProgrammer started high school this year - well, not really, since he's in 8th grade, but technically, since grades 8 through 12 are located in the same building. Needless to say, I started worrying before he even left middle school. So far, it has been working out very well. Our district's gifted coordinator has been helping greatly. At the beginning of the school year, she suggested that I put together a description of LilProgrammer's situation and email it to her. I downloaded a copy of the standard letter from the OASIS site, and filled it out using LilProgrammer's information. She forwarded the letter to all his teachers, and they all tell me that it was a lot of help, so they were able to understand LilProgrammer better right from the start.
He still carries all his books around the school all day, except now there are fifty pounds of them. I was worried the kids would make fun of him or try to knock over his books, but so far no issues at all! One thing that happened two weeks after school started, LilProgrammer went to his gym class, and, as usual, left all his stuff somewhere in the corner in the gym. Another gym teacher came across his pile of books and decided that it had been sitting there abandoned for two weeks (I guess he assumed that since LilProgrammer had been leaving the pile in the same spot every day for two weeks in a row! Can't say I blame the teacher.) He took the books to the Lost and Found and tossed everything else into the garbage, including the book covers. All the school supplies that I'd just bought two weeks ago! Well the school had been very nice about it, and replaced those of the supplies that I hadn't already replaced myself. To the school, this served as an illustration of LilProgrammer's quirks, and proof that I wasn't just making this stuff up so he could get better grades or get away with more. As for LilProgrammer, after that incident, he started using his gym locker. He also made arrangements with his German teacher to store his stuff in her class whenever he had gym.
His grades have gone way up and he is on the Principal's List for the first marking period!! As for writing up an IEP for him, we haven't done it. The plan was to wait and see what his grades would look like. So far, the grades are good, better than any I've seen from him in over two years.
LilProgrammer is also in a social skills group at his school. They meet every day at lunch. I'm told that he's showing improvement.
On his spare time, LilProgrammer, true to his nickname, programs. He visits programming forums and blogs when he needs information. He has also been reading personal development sites and business-related sites. Here is a link he gave me: Negotiation: The Art Of Getting What You Want, by Michael Schatzki. I've been reading this book on and off, but I think it's really cool that LilProgrammer has already finished it, and that he has an interest in these things.
Another thing I need to mention is our dog. I strongly urge every parent with a kid on the spectrum to get a cuddly, friendly dog. LilProgrammer was wary of Sparky at first. I told him to feed the puppy out of his hand, and showed him how to pet the puppy. Sparky fell in love with LilProgrammer instantly. Being the smart dog that he is, he knows not to bother LilProgrammer the way he bugs everyone else in the family ("Arrrrf! Let's play! C'mon, let's play, let's play, here's a toy, let's play!") He just comes into LilProgrammer's room and sits there very quietly. LilProgrammer pets him and has tried carrying him around several times ("Why are you carrying the dog?" - "Cuz I have Aspergers!") He was amazed by the dog's evident need to socialize and be around people. That got LilProgrammer thinking. He's coming out of his room now and talking to us, sometimes for a very long time. I believe the dog has made him more social.
The only thing that worries us right now is...
According to Wikipedia, polyphasic sleep (also known as the Da Vinci Sleep, not to be confused with the Da Vinci Code) is a sleep pattern intended to reduce sleep time to 2-5 hours daily, which is achieved by spreading out sleep into short naps of around 20-45 minutes throughout the day. From what I can tell, none of the people that attempted polyphasic sleep in the past were able to stick with it for longer than a few months, mostly because of the rigid sleep schedule that has to be followed to the minute and interferes with most people's work, family, and social life. LilProgrammer has decided that this will work for him, on account of him not having a social life. He started off in July on a 5-hour schedule, then he quit, then started on a 5-hour schedule again. The real problems started about a month ago when he decided to switch to a 3-hour schedule, that's three hours of sleep a day people!!! I have no idea how he does it. We told him that if his grades dropped, or if he started missing the bus in the mornings, then he could consider his polyphasic life over and would have to go back to sleeping twelve hours a day like the rest of the teenagers do. So far, all is good both in the grades and the bus department, though his teachers did complain that he looks "extremely tired".
LilProgrammer sets his alarm each time he takes a nap; he has also programmed his computer to beep at certain times during the day. Problem is, he never wakes up to turn the darn thing off. No worries though; the rest of the family has already learned to sleep through the beeping.
Last weekend, LilProgrammer really freaked us out by taking everything off his bed, including the mattress, and shoving everything into his closet. Reason? "When I sleep on my bed, I oversleep. I'm going to sleep at my desk from now on". We yelled and we threatened and we drew a gory picture of all possible dangers to LilProgrammer's health, but he wouldn't budge. This morning, I walked into his room to find him sleeping on the floor. This gives me hope. A week of that, and he'll realize he might as well put the mattress back again, since he's lying down anyway.
He keeps a log of what he does during the day. As far as we could find, no research had yet been done on effects of polyphasic sleep in kids and teens. Maybe LilProgrammer will be the first, publish his log, and get rich. I just hope his publication ends with something like: "That's when I realized that polyphasic sleep was not working and I needed to stop it immediately. And we all lived happily ever after."