HELP FOR PARENTS OF CHILDREN WITH ASPERGER'S & HIGH-FUNCTIONING AUTISM

Education and Counseling for Individuals Affected by Autism Spectrum Disorders

Search MyAspergersChild.com

Aspergers Children Who Worry Excessively: Tips for Parents

Some kids with Aspergers and High-Functioning Autism worry excessively and are often overly tense and uptight.  Some may seek a lot of reassurance, and their fears may interfere with activities. Moms and dads should not discount their youngster’s concerns – even when they seem unrealistic. 

Because fretful Aspies may also be quiet, compliant and eager to please, their difficulties may be missed.  The parent should be alert to the signs of excessive worrying so he/she can intervene early to prevent complications.

There are 3 different types of worries in Aspergers kids:
  1. fretting about being separated from the parent (e.g., being overly clingy, constant thoughts about the safety of parents, extreme worries about sleeping away from home, frequent stomachaches and other physical complaints, panic or tantrums at times of separation from the mother or father, refusing to go to school, trouble sleeping or nightmares, etc.)
  2. fretting about getting physically hurt (e.g., extreme apprehension about a specific thing or situation like getting bit by a dog, stung by a bee, stuck with a needle, etc.)
  3. fretting about being around people who are not familiar (e.g., avoidance of social situations, worries of meeting or talking to new people, few friends outside the family, etc.)

Other symptoms of excessive worrying in Aspergers kids include:
  • constant concerns about family, school, friends, or activities
  • fear of making mistakes
  • low self-esteem
  • lack of self-confidence
  • fears about things before they happen
  • repetitive, unwanted thoughts (obsessions) or actions (compulsions)

Moms and dads can help their Aspergers child develop the skills and confidence to overcome excessive worrying so that he/she doesn't develop phobic reactions to certain stimuli.

To help your youngster deal with worries and anxieties, consider the follow tips:

1. Don't cater to your Aspergers child’s fears. If your youngster doesn't like dogs, don't cross the street deliberately to avoid one. This will just reinforce that dogs should be feared and avoided. Provide support and gentle care as you approach the feared object or situation with your youngster.

2. Never belittle your child’s concerns as a way of forcing him to overcome them. Saying, "Don't be ridiculous! There are no monsters in your closet!" may get your youngster to go to bed, but it won't make the related anxiety go away.

3. Recognize that your child’s worries are real. As trivial as it may seem to you, it feels real to her – and it's causing her to feel nervous and afraid. Being able to talk about these feelings helps. Words often take some of the power out of the negative feeling. If you talk about it, it can become less powerful.

4. Teach coping strategies. Using you as "home base," your youngster can venture out toward the feared object, and then return to you for safety before venturing out again.

5. The youngster can learn some positive self-statements, such as, "I can do this" and "I will be OK" …to say to herself when feeling out of sorts.

6. Relaxation techniques are helpful, including visualization (e.g., floating on a cloud, lying on a beach, etc.) and deep breathing (e.g., imagining that the lungs are balloons and letting them slowly deflate).

7. Teach your Aspergers child to rate his level of worry. A youngster who can visualize the intensity of his fears on a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being the strongest, may be able to "see" the anxiety as less intense than first imagined. The child can think about how "full of fear" I am, with being full "up to my knees" as not so afraid, "up to my stomach" as more frightened, and "up to my head" as truly petrified.

8. If your youngster's apprehension consistently seems out of proportion to the cause of the stress, this may signal the need to seek outside help (e.g., counselor, psychiatrist, psychologist). Moms and dads should look for patterns. If an isolated incident is resolved, don't make it more significant than it is. But if a pattern emerges that's persistent or pervasive, you should take action. Contact your doctor and/or a mental health professional that has expertise in working with Aspergers children and teens.

The key to resolving excessive worries and anxieties is to overcome them. Using the suggestions above, you can help your youngster better cope with life's situations.


The Aspergers Comprehensive Handbook

12 comments:

Anonymous said...

My 8yr. old has horrible anxiety! He is on Zoloft now because it was so bad. He was on Prozac but it didn't really help and had side effects. Zoloft seems better so far.

Jsmom said...

Thank you for this article. As, I was thinking that it may be just him. Now, I realize more that we are not alone, it has been a battle of these forces for years. I believe you can not raise a child by putting them down. They are people too.

Anonymous said...

My son heard a news report about flesh eating bacteria someone caught from walking barefoot. As a result, he wore socks for almost a full year, night and day. I could go in his room at 2am to try and remove his socks, he would wake up! So we let it go. On the beach, he wore socks.

He really wanted swimming lessons. I had no idea how he was going to handle this sock issue, but told him they can't go in the water. On his own volition he took them off. Slowly as he developed other interests he stopped his sock thing even going to a sandy beach. Now I have to insist he wear his sandals in the gym showers, as he has no worry about catching bacteria. Amazing.

He also wears a hat in social situations where he feels uncomfortable, which are many. This drove us bananas,as he looked odd in the hat, on hot days even odder. I advocated to let it go unless we were in church or a formal setting. How my heart does sing when I see him take his hat off on his own, showing me he is gaining confidence in some areas. Letting him wear it, with a few limits, was actually helpful.

Anonymous said...

My son was diagnosed with ADHD/ODD and Aspergers. He is 11 and his anxiety is horrible. He goes into a tunnel vision and anything from thunder storms to going to the doctor is a challenge. He is not on any anxiety medication but going to look into different ways to help him cope with his anxieties.

Anonymous said...

I am taking Paxil 20 mg for Anxiety! I am diagnosed with Asperger's Syndrome! I am 18! My name is Isobel Shearer! I take Abilify 2 mg for meltdowns!

Anonymous said...

one of my a/s grown up daughters still worries contin ualy,also very o,c,d,

Anonymous said...

Thunder storms and tornado warnings are on the top on my son's panic list. Also fires in the house or when his sister is driving. Talking to him helps a lot and letting him watch the weather updates during a thunderstorm helps. I tried to keep him from looking at the weather, but that just made him more anxious. He is 12 years old.

Anonymous said...

Nine old aspie son freaks if he sees a bee outside then won't go out again for some time

Anonymous said...

my son is 7 . He constently fears his pets will die or he will choke to death . Sometimes he will cry for hours about one subject or the other i just sit and hug him and try to console him best as i can .. ..?? Not sure what else to do ..

Anonymous said...

My seven year old heard about a tornado at school and they talked about the tsunami. He worries constantly about being swept away by wind and sea even though we live in California. He has anxiety about a lot of other things as well. He used to always complain that he had "the itchies" before he was diagnosed. He would cry and dance around and rub himself uncontrollably. I now understand that this is code for how he interprets anxiety. He will say he feels the itchies coming on and I intervene quickly using our calm down techniques.

Manic Mom said...

My parents died when I was a kid. So, my 2 older kids grew up knowing about my parents And never had a problem with it. But, Kaden has such anxiety over the possibility that I'm going to die as well. At night it's the worse. He basicly has to be swaddled and he has a 2 hand grip on me most nights. He's 5, so I try and sooth him without feeding into it. It's hard to redirect him, because it's so real for him. I fear he is going to need a medication.

Unknown said...

my 7 yr old autistic daughter is the exact same way. In addition to storms, flushing toilets, going into rooms in the house by herself areally issues. She is also a back seat driver at 7!

My child has been rejected by his peers, ridiculed and bullied !!!

Social rejection has devastating effects in many areas of functioning. Because the Aspergers child tends to internalize how others treat him, rejection damages self-esteem and often causes anxiety and depression. As the child feels worse about himself and becomes more anxious and depressed – he performs worse, socially and intellectually.

Click here to read the full article…

How to Prevent Meltdowns in Aspergers Children

Meltdowns are not a pretty sight. They are somewhat like overblown temper tantrums, but unlike tantrums, meltdowns can last anywhere from ten minutes to over an hour. When it starts, the Asperger's child is totally out-of-control. When it ends, both you and the Asperger’s child are totally exhausted. But... don’t breathe a sigh of relief yet. At the least provocation, for the remainder of that day -- and sometimes into the next - the meltdown can return in full force.

Click here for the full article...

Parenting Defiant Aspergers Teens

Although Aspergers is at the milder end of the autism spectrum, the challenges parents face when disciplining a teenager with Aspergers are more difficult than they would be with an average teen. Complicated by defiant behavior, the Aspergers teen is at risk for even greater difficulties on multiple levels – unless the parents’ disciplinary techniques are tailored to their child's special needs.

Click here to read the full article…

Aspergers Children “Block-Out” Their Emotions

Parenting children with Aspergers and HFA can be a daunting task. In layman’s terms, Aspergers is a developmental disability that affects the way children develop and understand the world around them, and is directly linked to their senses and sensory processing. This means they often use certain behaviors to block out their emotions or response to pain.

Click here to read the full article…

Older Teens and Young Adult Children With Aspergers Still Living At Home

Your older teenager or young “adult child” isn’t sure what to do, and he is asking you for money every few days. How do you cut the purse strings and teach him to be independent? Parents of teens with Aspergers face many problems that other parents do not. Time is running out for teaching their adolescent how to become an independent adult. As one mother put it, "There's so little time, yet so much left to do."

Click here to read the full article…

Living with an Aspergers Spouse/Partner

Research reveals that the divorce rate for people with Aspergers is around 80%. Why so high!? The answer may be found in how the symptoms of Aspergers affect intimate relationships. People with Aspergers often find it difficult to understand others and express themselves. They may seem to lose interest in people over time, appear aloof, and are often mistaken as self-centered, vain individuals.

Click here to read the full article…

Online Parent Coaching for Parents of Asperger's Children

If you’re the parent of a child with Aspergers or High-Functioning Autism, you know it can be a struggle from time to time. Your child may be experiencing: obsessive routines; problems coping in social situations; intense tantrums and meltdowns; over-sensitivity to sounds, tastes, smells and sights; preoccupation with one subject of interest; and being overwhelmed by even the smallest of changes.

Click here to read the full article...

Unraveling The Mystery Behind Asperger's and High-Functioning Autism

Parents, teachers, and the general public have a lot of misconceptions of Asperger's and High-Functioning Autism. Many myths abound, and the lack of knowledge is both disturbing and harmful to kids and teens who struggle with the disorder.

Click here to read the full article...

Parenting Children and Teens with High-Functioning Autism

Two traits often found in kids with High-Functioning Autism are “mind-blindness” (i.e., the inability to predict the beliefs and intentions of others) and “alexithymia” (i.e., the inability to identify and interpret emotional signals in others). These two traits reduce the youngster’s ability to empathize with peers. As a result, he or she may be perceived by adults and other children as selfish, insensitive and uncaring.

Click here
to read the full article...

My Aspergers Child - Syndicated Content