My child is 15 and I feel there are times when I will be advocating for him when he should be doing it for himself. Any advise where to draw the line?
As moms and dads, we sometimes struggle when our kids reach the age of emerging independence. We must begin to let go a little and allow them to be self sufficient in their early teens in order to grow and develop into self-supporting adults. In addition, teenagers with Aspergers (high-functioning autism) can often feel intimidated, automatically stepping aside and allowing a parent or trusted adult to make important decisions, even when they are completely capable.
Helping your youngster with Aspergers begin to accept some responsibility does not have to be difficult. If your child is to become an effective self-advocate, he will need to be aware of the following points:
1. Your son should participate in counseling and group therapy to help keep himself focused. Counseling sessions are useful for people with Aspergers. This is a place where your child can talk about how his strengths and weaknesses make him feel. In group therapy, your son can learn new strategies for coping with social situations.
2. Your son should become active in his IEP process and know his written goals. Your child should be encouraged to take part in his IEP meetings. Once your son acknowledges his own strengths and weaknesses, his input can help the team set reachable goals.
3. Your son must recognize his weaknesses. Just as with his strengths, your child must also be mindful of his weaknesses. People with Aspergers sometimes struggle with language based academics, for example. Social skills and sensory problems may be weak areas for your child.
4. Your son must know his strengths. People with Aspergers are often gifted with an above average I.Q. It is possible that your child excels in one or more academic subjects. People with Aspergers also usually have an intense interest outside of academics, such as music or computers. Knowing his own strengths will help your child gain much needed self-confidence.
Aspergers is nothing of which to be ashamed. Aspergers is a part of who your child is but it does not define him. Once your son realizes this, and that he is capable and intelligent, he should be able to step up and take on some of the responsibility of self-advocacy. In the meantime, remember, your child is still a youngster. Make the switch slowly by pushing gently. And foremost, your son still needs you.
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