Asperger Syndrome: The Parent Perspective
Raising a child with Asperger syndrome can be challenging. Learn about autism spectrum disorders so you can help your child thrive.
As the parent of a child with Asperger syndrome, you want to know how to help your child. One key is to learn all you can about Asperger and other autism spectrum disorders. By being well informed, you’ll help yourself and also be able to give the support your child needs to thrive.
Recognizing Asperger syndrome
Children with Asperger syndrome have poor social skills. They have trouble making friends because they talk at rather than to others. They aren’t good at making eye contact, reading facial expressions, or understanding how other people feel. They prefer sameness and may have rituals or routines that are important to them.
Physically, they are often clumsy. They may have poor handwriting or trouble catching a ball or riding a bike. Many are very sensitive to textures, light, and noise. A scratchy tag in a shirt or the flickering of a fluorescent light may bring on a tantrum.
One of the hallmarks of this syndrome is a child’s keen interest in one subject. Children with Asperger become experts in their chosen subject, and that’s all they want to talk about. They may recite endless facts about New York subway schedules, dinosaurs, or ancient Egyptian dynasties. They often sound like “little professors” because they use big words and have a formal way of speaking. Adults may be charmed by this, but other kids may think they’re strange. As a result, they may be teased or bullied.
Many children with Asperger also have another problem, such as depression, anxiety, or hyperactivity.
Living with Asperger syndrome
While kids with Asperger have many things in common, they are individuals, with their own gifts and shortcomings. Treatment can help your child make the most of his or her abilities and learn better ways to relate to others.
Treatment for Asperger syndrome may include:
- Social skills training
- Cognitive behavioral therapy
- Speech and language therapy
- Occupational or physical therapy
- Medication for a co-existing condition, such as depression
At home, show patience and understanding. Help your child practice social skills, such as taking turns when talking, and offer praise for any progress. Your child may not be able to express love in ways that are clear, but you can be sure that you are the most important person in his or her life.
At school, you’ll need to be your child’s advocate. Most teachers and school officials don’t know much about Asperger syndrome. You can help them learn more so that your child gets the support he or she needs to do well in the classroom.
At each stage of life, your child will face challenges. You may find yourself challenged, too. At times, your child’s behavior may seem odd or confusing. Many parents find help through support groups for the families of children with autism spectrum disorders. It can also help to read books written by people who have Asperger syndrome. Their insights can be a source of encouragement for parents who have a child they love but don’t quite understand.