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Parenting an Asperger's Child

Apr 30, 2008
You have discovered that your child has Asperger's Syndrome, like many other children. Asperger's is on the "autism spectrum," which means that a child can be a little bit autistic, or odd-normal, or a lot autistic and quite impaired. Asperger's is somewhere there between the extremes. Now that you know this, you want your child to move toward the more normal end of the spectrum. If you work with him and bolster his self-confidence, you may help him become more normal. If you don't help him, the world will drain his self-confidence.

Here's one key tip: if at all possible, teach your child music. People on the autism spectrum often have exceptional musical talent, even folks who have trouble speaking and learning. Perfect pitch is not particularly rare for them. This will give you child a skill to excel in, or at least to enjoy, all his life. The problem may be to find a flexible teacher who is not intimidated by your unusual student. Look for a professional music therapist, or someone with experience dealing with special needs folks. Requiring practicing every day can be built into your system of rewards for your child, a system you need to figure out. This reward system will provide an incentive for doing chores and homework. The music lessons have worked well for my brother as well as my children.

Your child probably tends to isolate himself, and may love to talk and talk about one subject. Patience! During the middle school years, your child will probably begin to be more aware that he is being rejected socially. Finally, he may be motivated to try to change his ways! Look for this developmental stage, and when it arrives, do everything you can to teach your child social acceptability.

Steps you can take are:

* Therapy groups that teach social skills, led by a social worker, speech therapist, or other professional.

* Working with him yourself. Set aside 15 minutes a day during Homework Time to play conversation games.

* Enrolling him in a school for kids with special needs. Such a school can teach him social skills in a supportive environment. Your child desperately needs coaching. If he is mainstreamed in a regular school, he may be exposed to bullying and may not get the coaching he needs.

A child who is bullied can feel the damage to his self-worth for the rest of his life.

Mainstreaming may just be exposing your child to negative interactions, not positive ones. If this is necessary for your situation, see if you can volunteer at the school to be nearby, or get the school to hire a shadow for your child. Then talk to that person and tell him exactly what you want them to do: protect the child from negative interactions with peers. Our culture tolerates bullying and negative teasing, but both of those will be damaging to your child.

* Homeschooling may be another option for you. There is plenty of information on the Internet available for this.

* You may be able to find a school that controls most peer interactions. This might be a private special-needs school.

To summarize, be sure to do all you can to protect your child's feelings of self-worth.
About the Author
To learn plenty of strategies for raising your Aspergers child, be sure to check out Phyllis Wheeler's ebook, Nurturing Your Aspergers Child. In it Ms. Wheeler defines workable strategies, such as a point system.
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