Elisabeth Johnson
(née Haines)

I have two beautiful talented children who I would like to tell you about in the hope that you can understand them better.


Olivia Marie Johnson
Olivia Wareham Feb 2010

Wareham Feb 2010
Jared went crabing
2009 Cawsands Cornwall

Olivia is diagnosed with Asperger syndrome and Jared, who is currently being assessed for ADHD and Asperger’s. with or without an official diagnosis it is obvious that both the children have some real issues. I wanted to give you all a brief overview of Asperger’s and how it affects my children. Also to give you a better understanding of this condition as it is becoming recognised and a lot more widely diagnosed.

Jared Wareham Feb 2010
Jared Wareham 2010

Firstly let me say that having Asperger’s is not a bad thing and there have been many brilliant minds that have been associated with it, all of whom shaped our world in one way or another. These include, Albert Einstein, Beethoven, Mozart, Vincent van Gogh, Winston Churchill and Andy Warhol. There is no reason why this condition should hinder. It is other people’s responses, attitudes and lack of understanding that are the reason Asperger’s is looked upon in such a negative way.

Of course that doesn’t mean there are not many different difficulties that these children! adults face. Think of it in this way. If you imagine a piece of lined paper, this represents the average expectations of society (the average person). Now think of a smaller piece of lined paper placed on top, but at a slightly different angle. This is my child she/he has the same lines but they go in a different path. Aren’t we called to be different and stand out from the crowd as Christians? Well my children do it automatically


To have any understanding of this complex condition you must realise that it covers such a wide spectrum of talents and difficulties, just like us we can be similar but all unique. Every child diagnosed will be different some hyper and loud, some quiet and placid but they all fall within strict guidelines for diagnosis. Some areas of common difficulty are as follows.

Olivia in PennCirrus cabin year 2005 peace at last

Body Language
When we communicate we don’t just use our language. Don’t quote me but it is something like 15% spoken word 10% tone and the rest body language. That’s a lot of unspoken gestures and expressions. Now imagine you are blind and you can’t see how someone is feeling, their smiles, frowns, shifting in their seat or rolling their eyes. You would need someone to explain to you how they were feeling to understand them. My children are mentally blind to communication skills like body language. Both of them can hold a very good conversation and know lots of big words, but if you were to imply something without saying it then they wouldn’t know what you meant. They as is often the case with people who are Aspie’s, often take things literally and at face value.

Social code
This is the unwritten code that so many of us live by, for example it is polite to thank someone who has waited for you to pass them on the street, or you don’t tell Auntie Doris C sorry if you are called Doris ) that she is fat, as it will offend her. But people with Asperger’s don’t understand this. And will often say it how they see it. Many times I have had experience of my children talking to drunks on the street and saying “what’s your name, why are you smoking. You smell They don’t mean to upset or offend and it certainly isn’t something I’ve taught them. It is how it is.

With this condition comes a lack of emotional awareness and causes every emotion to be played to the extreme. Happiness in our house will often be displayed by screaming, Jumping up and down in a mad fashion and arm flapping, and anger by hitting, lashing out, screaming and anything that inflicts the most amount of pain possible. (And if you were wondering then no I am not talking about myself although sometimes I do scream rather loudly). There is not a happy medium.


Because Aspie’s find the above challenging it can make them feel isolated. They may also find it very hard to make friends. AS a self preservation tool they can be disruptive, get into your personal space. Sometimes they will get close to your face, often as a way of trying to clarify what you saying because they don’t understand. Aspie’s often don’t understand boundaries or they may shut down not acknowledge you or speak to you. This is because they are frightened of being told off. Many of you will have seen my son play dead, when he thinks he is being told off he just shuts down.


Because of taking everything literally Aspies find it very hard to lie and will often tell the truth, because as I said; they say it how it is. They are very good loyal friends who if your bum looks big in that skirt will tell you without worrying if your offended. (As I found out when Olivia told me the cardigan I was wearing was horrid and I would look much better in the one she picked and she was right.

They also excel in specific areas like computers, maths and art, maybe to the point of obsession but who cares. If they are good at it then let them be.

Wow this is a big one for my kids. They have amazing memories for facts so don’t tell them you will do something for them and forget. They hassle me and I don’t want to have to chase you.

I am worn out by the energy that Jared has. It’s beyond a joke ;( if anyone wants to take him to the park I will be forever grateful). He is non stop which put in the right environment could be a wonderful thing.

They do try really hard. A lot of people comment on how Olivia has calmed down and this is true to a certain point, but one of the real factors is she knows what is expected and tries to control herself. It does sometimes mean that when she is at home and comfortable she can relax and be manic. Dad says this is a contradiction but it is true; when Olivia is comfortable she is free to be the person she really is and this is often hyper. Although it is less often (thank the lord.)

Capacity to learn
With this condition as opposed to some others they can learn. It is harder than normal and takes patience, time and (yes mum, she always goes on about it) consistency. But it will eventually sink in (as proven above)

Olivia taking charge of PennCirrus

Both children are full of love Jared displays this a lot more than Olivia but when she feels really comfortable she will express it in art, pictures and gifts. Jared speaks his love. His most used phrases are “what’s your name and I love you” 


Mind power
Both children have amazing minds and are interested in many things. Jared wants to find out the mechanics of things. He thinks what will happen if I put a snail in the microwave and turn it on. What 3 year old would be able to think along those lines? Olivia has the ability to be very focused and once a project is started she will see it through.

One very clever tool Aspie’s have is the ability to cover up how they are feeling this is often learnt as they get older and may be reflected in agreeing with everything. The trick here is to make sure they have understood what is being asked.
Obviously there are many other issues, challenges and talents and some may be more apparent than others this is just a general overview. I am not a doctor so I don’t have all the knowledge, but these issues affect my children.

I want to leave you with a thought.


Are you positive or Negative? Positive role models will encourage positive children. Please try and see God’s glory in and purpose for my children, even when they are shouting or causing havoc.
Thanks for reading

Lis Johnson.