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

Education and Counseling for Individuals Affected by Autism Spectrum Disorders

Search MyAspergersChild.com

Helping Aspergers Children Avoid The "Back To School Jitters"

Preparing kids with Aspergers (High-Functioning Autism) for the new school year requires a little more than making sure uniforms fit and backpacks are filled with all the necessary school supplies. Most U.S. schools will open their doors on Aug. 20. Before then, moms and dads need to ensure all their documents are in order, transportation is prepared, and good communication is established with their youngster's school.

Here are 25 ways in which you can help your Aspergers youngster prepare for the new school year:

1. Ask the school whether you will be able to walk your Aspie into the classroom and hand him off to the teacher.  Find out how long you will be able to stay.  If you suspect that your son or daughter might have a hard time saying goodbye, by all means speak with the teacher now and make a plan for how to handle the first day. 

2. Ask the teacher to provide you with the daily class routine so that you can review this schedule with your Aspie at home.

3. Be sure all children lay out clothes the night before, that lunches are made, and that everyone gets enough sleep and a healthy breakfast.  Plan to arrive at school early so you have time for meaningful goodbyes.  And don’t forget that “first day of school” photo before you leave home!

4. Bring a camera and ask to take photos of the new classroom, teacher and surroundings.

5. Create a “Transition Book” for your Aspie. This is a book about your youngster’s new teacher and class. You can use the photos you took during your meeting at the school. Look at the book regularly to help your Aspie become familiar with the new environment.

6. Encourage your child’s questions by asking what she thinks school will be like.  Emphasize the things you think she’ll enjoy, but be sure not to minimize her fears. Children can be stricken by worries that parents might find silly (e.g., finding the bathroom at school). Normalize any fears and reassure her that she will have fun, that the school can reach you if necessary, and that your love is always with her even when you aren’t.

7. Facilitate bonding with the other children. Children are always nervous about their new teacher, but if they know any of the other children, they’ll feel more at ease.  

8. Facilitate your Aspie’s bonding with the teacher.  All children need to feel connected to their teacher to feel comfortable in the classroom.   Until they do, they are not ready to learn.  Experienced educators know this, and “collect” their students emotionally at the start of the school year. 

9. Find out what other children are in your child’s class and arrange a play date so she’ll feel more connected if she hasn’t seen these children all summer.

10. Get your child back on an early to bed schedule well before school starts.  Most children begin staying up late in the summer months.  But children need 9 ½ to 11 hours of sleep a night, depending on their age. Getting them back on schedule so they’re sound asleep by 9pm to be up at 7am for school takes a couple of weeks of gradually moving the bedtime earlier. Imposing an early bedtime cold turkey the night before school starts results in a youngster who simply isn’t ready for an earlier bedtime, having slept in that morning and with the night-before-school jitters.  In that situation, you can expect everyone’s anxiety to escalate.  So keep an eye on the calendar and start moving bedtime a bit earlier every night by having children read in bed for an hour before lights out, which is also good for their reading skills.

11. Get yourself to bed early the night before school so you can get up early enough to deal calmly with any last minute crises. 

12. If a younger sibling will be at home with you, be sure your Aspergers child knows how boring it will be at home and how jealous you and the younger sibling are that you don’t get to go to school like a big kid.  Explain that every day after school you will have special time with your big girl to hear all about her day and have a snack together.

13. If you’re new in town, make a special effort to meet other children in the neighborhood.  Often schools are willing to introduce new families to each other, allowing children to connect with other new students in the weeks before school starts. 

14. If your Aspergers youngster gets teary when you say goodbye, reassure her that she will be fine and that you can’t wait to see her at the end of the day.  Use the goodbye routine you’ve practiced, and then hand her off to her teacher.  Don’t leave her adrift without a new attachment person, but once you’ve put her in good hands, don’t worry. 

15. Let your Aspie choose his own school supplies, whether from around your house or from the store, and ready them in his backpack or bag. 

16. Make sure you’re a few minutes early to pick your Aspie up that first week of school.  Not seeing you immediately will exacerbate any anxieties he has and may panic him altogether.  If your Aspie cries when you pick him up, don’t worry.  You’re seeing the stress of his having to keep it together all day and be a big boy.

17. Moms and dads need to review special education documents such as individualized education plans, or IEPs, and meet with principals and, if possible, educators to ensure everyone is on the same page as far as the students' needs are concerned -- from modified teaching lessons to transportation.  Moms and dads should go through their youngster's IEPs before the school year starts and make a list of anything ambiguous, or something you don't quite understand.  After completing your homework, you may realize that your Aspie's IEP is lacking or needs adjustment. You may want to consult with an independent professional (e.g., psychologist or behaviorist) and/or convene with the IEP team to discuss your youngsters changing needs. Moms and dads can call an IEP meeting at any time, and the district is required to hold the meeting at a mutually convenient date/time within 30 calendar days (beginning with the first day of school and excluding any breaks that are two weeks or more). As always, be sure to make your request in writing.

18. Once school has started, check-in with your Aspie’s new teacher on a regular basis to see if the transition has been successful.

19. Research shows that children forget a lot during the summer.  If your Aspie has been reading through the summer months, congratulations!  If not, this is the time to start.  Visit the library and let him pick some books he’ll enjoy.  Introduce the idea that for the rest of the summer everyone in the family will read for an hour every day. 

20. Share your own stories about things you loved about school.

21. Start conversations about the next grade at school or about beginning school.  One good way to do this is to select books relating to that grade.  Your librarian can be helpful. Get your children excited by talking about what they can expect, including snack, playground, reading, computers, singing and art.  If you know other kids who will be in his class or in the school, be sure to mention that he will see or play with them. 

22. Take advantage of any orientation opportunities.  Many schools let new students, especially in the younger grades, come to school for an orientation session before school begins.  If the school doesn’t have such a program, ask if you and your Aspie can come by to meet the new teacher for a few minutes a day or so before school starts.  Educators are busy preparing their rooms and materials at that time, but any experienced teacher is happy to take a few minutes to meet a new student and make him feel comfortable, since she knows that helps her students settle into the school year.

23. The day before school starts, talk about exactly what will happen the next day to give your Aspie a comfortable mental movie. Be alert for signs that he is worried, and reflect that most children are a little nervous before the first day of school, but that he will feel right at home in his new classroom soon. 

24. There are many books and computer applications for kids that tell social stories. Provide your Aspie with social stories that model appropriate behavior at school and with other kids.

25. Try to arrange for your child to travel to school that first morning with a youngster he or she knows. Even if they aren’t in the same classroom, it will ease last minute jitters.

No comments:

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. Thus, the best treatment for Aspergers children and teens is, without a doubt, “social skills training.”

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.

If your child suffers from Asperger’s Syndrome, expect him to experience both minor and major meltdowns over incidents that are part of daily life. He may have a major meltdown over a very small incident, or may experience a minor meltdown over something that is major. There is no way of telling how he is going to react about certain situations. However, there are many ways to help your child learn to control his emotions.

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.

The standard disciplinary techniques that are recommended for “typical” teenagers do not take into account the many issues facing a child with a neurological disorder. Violent rages, self-injury, isolation-seeking tendencies and communication problems that arise due to auditory and sensory issues are just some of the behaviors that parents of teens with Aspergers will have to learn to control.

Parents need to come up with a consistent disciplinary plan ahead of time, and then present a united front and continually review their strategies for potential changes and improvements as the Aspergers teen develops and matures.

Click here to read the full article…

Aspergers Children “Block-Out” Their Emotions

Parenting children with Aspergers 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.

Although they may vary slightly from person to person, children with Aspergers tend to have similar symptoms, the main ones being:

=> A need to know when everything is happening in order not to feel completely overwhelmed
=> A rigid insistence on routine (where any change can cause an emotional and physiological meltdown)
=> Difficulties with social functioning, particularly in the rough and tumble of a school environment
=> Obsessive interests, with a focus on one subject to the exclusion of all others
=> Sensory issues, where they are oversensitive to bright light, loud sounds and unpleasant smells
=> Social isolation and struggles to make friends due to a lack of empathy, and an inability to pick up on or understand social graces and cues (such as stopping talking and allowing others to speak)

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."

Parents face issues such as college preparation, vocational training, teaching independent living, and providing lifetime financial support for their child, if necessary. Meanwhile, their immature Aspergers teenager is often indifferent – and even hostile – to these concerns.

As you were raising your child, you imagined how he would be when he grew up. Maybe you envisioned him going to college, learning a skilled traded, getting a good job, or beginning his own family. But now that (once clear) vision may be dashed. You may be grieving the loss of the child you wish you had.

If you have an older teenager with Aspergers who has no clue where he is going in life, or if you have an “adult-child” with Aspergers still living at home (in his early 20s or beyond), here are the steps you will need to take in order to foster the development of self-reliance in this child.

Click here to read the full article…

My Aspergers Child - Syndicated Content