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11-Year-Old Writes Book About Sibling's Asperger's Syndrome

Posted July 2, 2007

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— Some children with Asperger's Syndrome, a milder form of autism, may go undiagnosed for years. The behaviors can be difficult for families, especially for siblings. One person decided to put his thoughts down on paper.

At 11 years of age, Sam Frender is like other boys his age, except he has written a book. It is about living with an older brother with Asperger's Syndrome. For 13 years, Sam's parents didn't know the cause of their oldest son's behavior issues.

"He was misdiagnosed at first as having anxiety disorder, then attention deficit disorder," said Robin Schiffmiller, Sam's mother.

The family then learned about Asperger's Syndrome and had him evaluated.

"(We) are so thrilled to finally know what it is," Robin said.

Sam's brother, who the family asked not to identify, fixates on a single interest.

"He only wants to watch Star Trek. He only wants to talk about Star Trek. He only wants to think about Star Trek," Sam said.

Sam, who said he feels protective of his brother, said it's hard to be patient. He also said he feels invaded when his brother wrecks his stuff. Sam and his mother knew his feelings were important, so they wrote them down.

"After we had so many on paper, someone suggested we publish it," Robin said.

Friends in Asperger's support groups have shared the book, "Brotherly Feelings," with their children.

"They thought it was pretty good, and that it really touched them," Sam said.

15 Comments

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  • momofthreeinFV Jul 3, 11:07 p.m.

    Parents of Children that has Autism have 3 choices in the Wake County what type of school that they will be in. My child is in a program for children that needs very structure care, so he goes 6 hours a day for 5 day a week. Some children only need 3 hours a day, for 4 days and some kids go to daycares that cater to their needs. So it does not matter what your base school is, it depends on the childs problems and needs. They do however try to place the child near to home or it base school if the program is offer in their base school, but sometimes it does not work out that way. I know Wake County schools has huge problems, but this is one program that is on top of things.

  • littlegramma Jul 3, 10:13 p.m.

    Our niece lives in PA and the situation there in Hershey is atorocious. Her mom has done great things for/with her. She will be starting an honors program in HS in the fall, and hopefully they'll get it right for her now after all these years. I guess in Wake County it really depends on which school your child is assigned...but one never knows from one school year to the next now, do they?

  • momofthreeinFV Jul 3, 9:45 p.m.

    Our son has Autism. It was a hard day for our family. But I have had a crash coarse in Autism and what to expect. Our son enter Wake County School systems in April and it has been wonderful. He is just growing and learning all new things. His mind is soaking it in like a sponge. We have our good days and bad days, but I can not say enough about the AU programs in Wake County schools. I was told when we were going through the process that parents from all over the country relocate here to Wake County because of our programs. I have met kids from West Virginia, VA, Texas and could not believe their heart breaking stories. One day I will hear my son say "mommy , I love you" but till that day happens, I have hope, a great team of teachers, friends & doctors that will see him to become the man I know he can be!

  • bestnana Jul 3, 5:20 p.m.

    My grandson has had remarkable progress in the Wake County School system's autism program. I was amazed that there was such a progressive program in a public school system. They have taken such an interest in him and the rest of his family, too. Bless them.

  • educgrad Jul 3, 4:37 p.m.

    What a courageous boy. Most siblings are very protective when another sibling has special needs. This boy has gone above and beyond to help educate other's on this disability

  • Gab Jul 3, 1:59 p.m.

    Maybe this will help: www.teacch.com

    it's A.S.P.I.R.E, Asperger's Syndrome Parents Interested in Resources and Education.

  • penny for your thoughts Jul 3, 11:41 a.m.

    I can't find aspire either. Any pointers would be appreciated.

  • penny for your thoughts Jul 3, 11:37 a.m.

    Our son is autistic, and it is great to see more and more positive press on the entire spectrum.

  • geauxcajun Jul 3, 8:29 a.m.

    i_am_batman - I looked on the UNC Hospital website for the "Aspire" program that you mentioned and could not find any info. Could you tell me which UNC hospital and what department? Thanks!

  • The Fox Jul 2, 9:25 p.m.

    My son has Asperger's. It was diagnosed years after the initial autism catch all diagnosis. We went through the medical community & school systems in the dark ages in the 70's & 80's and didn't get much help, save for a few highly dedicated teachers and a caring family. The point is the symptoms diminished in the late teen - early 20's years. We played catch up with studies and skills. A college degree followed, and then a full time professional job. There is hope.

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