How should I explain Aspergers Syndrome to my 12-year-old son who was recently diagnosed with the disorder?
More than likely, there is little need to explain Aspergers (high functioning autism) to your child. If you read accounts by others with Aspergers, they usually say that they knew they were different long before they knew they had an official diagnosis. Most report being relieved to learn about their diagnosis because it explained so much about the differences.
Some moms and dads choose to explain Aspergers as soon as the diagnosis is received, keeping the kid involved from the start. Even though the youngster may not be able to comprehend the full definition, there is that feeling of being different. Other parents choose to explain Aspergers much later, after the kid has grown and is able to understand exactly what it means. Either way is acceptable, depending on how you wish to do things in your home.
When it comes time to explain Aspergers to a child with the disorder, be mindful that he may become overwhelmed or even angry when he learns that his differences have a name, and that name is part of the Autism spectrum.
Here are a few suggestions to help you explain the diagnosis:
- Explain Aspergers as a difference in manner of thinking versus a true disability. While it is true that some people with Aspergers qualify for government disability services, there are so many positives within the diagnosis on which you can choose to focus.
- Be prepared to list the characteristics of Aspergers. Some of these characteristics are definitely strengths. Aspergers is definitely not all negative!
- Autism is a spectrum disorder and Aspergers is on the higher end of ability. Most children will know someone at school who has classic Autism and may become distraught over the idea that they share that condition. Make special note of the specific differences.
After you explain Aspergers to your child, you should be prepared for any questions and concerns he may have. Encourage him to talk to you about his feelings. Books, websites, and other publications are available to help you through this process.
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