How can I help my daughter with Aspergers to deal with bullying and feeling like ‘she is an alien’ (her words)?
It is very common for children with Asperger’s Syndrome (high-functioning autism) to feel different. These children are very intelligent and the fact that they have struggles in many different areas is very obvious to them. You frequently hear children and adults with Asperger’s refer to themselves as “from another world”. They spend much of their lives trying to fit into a world that doesn’t seem to accept them.
Here is a child who has trouble making and keeping friends, may appear clumsy and awkward, is sensitive to sound or light, has strange obsessions she talks about all the time, and has difficulty with changes in routines or schedules. All of these things are bombarding your daughter’s mind when everyone around her is going through the day happily in a group, while she watches from afar. It’s not surprising she is feeling like an alien.
Because of the differences that make children with Asperger’s stand out from the crowd, they also frequently have to deal with bullying. They are smart, capable of handling their school work for the most part, but keen on following the rules and doing what is right. You will read about Asperger’s kids being labeled as geeky or nerdy.
A child who is being bullied may not realize that she is supposed to tell someone that it is happening. When you struggle with communication, it is difficult to know when or even how to speak up. She may be realizing for the first time that she has been a target all along.
Assure your daughter that you understand her statement regarding feeling out of place. Tell her that there are ways to control bullying and come up with a written plan of action. Talk to her about the specifics and help her see that she can find her way around these trying situations.
Involve your daughter’s school personnel. They may be able to offer suggestions that can be added to her educational plan to make things easier for her, such as additional individual therapy or social skills classes.
With help, your daughter can get past her feelings of alienation and helplessness. Having the support of her parents and professionals will prove invaluable and in time, she’ll be feeling less like a target and more like the capable human being she is.
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