"Is it common for a child with Asperger’s to have a split personality? My son is a really good kid at school, but then a complete monster at home. Is this normal?"
Asperger’s Syndrome is known to manifest itself differently with different children. Also, children with Asperger’s Syndrome may react differently to various situations depending on their individual personalities. Your child may feel more comfortable with the familiar surroundings at home, and feel freer to act out more at home than in public, where he is surrounded by strangers and in a less familiar environment. The stress of school may be relieved by a “meltdown” or other difficult behaviour at home. This is a common occurrence.
Dr. Tony Attwood, a clinical psychologist, is a world renowned expert on Asperger’s Syndrome. Here is what he says about split personality and Asperger’s: “Quite a few children with Asperger’s Syndrome are Dr. Jeckylls and Mr. Hydes. They are saints at school, but they soak up the anguish, then squeeze it out on their brothers and sisters when they get home. We do not know why this happens…”
Asperger’s is treated in two ways, and both of them help manage the anxiety that accompanies this illness. The first is cognitive psychology, and the second is prescription medication. The first thing you need to do in order to help your son is to find a psychiatrist or psychologist who specializes in Asperger’s Syndrome. This specialist will be able to help your son. He or she will help you and your son discover the reasons behind his behavioral changes.
In addition, a specialist will help you do two things:
- Modify the situation or the environment in which he lives to reduce difficult behaviour;
- Create interventions for handling your son’s anxiety.
Please don’t be intimidated. Changes don’t have to be complex or unmanageable. The changes you need to make might just involve changing lighting to a lower level, adjusting sound levels in your home, or creating a new schedule.
If initial interventions do not help, a psychiatrist can prescribe medications which will provide your son with the help he needs. It’s important to note that psychotropic (mood-altering) drugs like Zoloft or Prozac can help children, but they can also cause serious problems for children. If the psychiatrist prescribes medication, ask about dosage levels and, more importantly, side effects. Just about all drugs have side effects, and it’s important for you to know about them so you know what to expect. You know your son better than anyone else; ask yourself if he can handle side effects like nausea, hypersensitivity, or prolonged sleepiness. These are all possible, depending on the medication prescribed.