Raising an Aspergers Child: Tips for Home and School


"Our son has just been diagnosed with asperger syndrome (high functioning). Even though we thought he might have it, it was still a shock. This is all new to us... not sure what path to take at this point. Any tips to get us started on this journey? Thanks!"

You can best serve your youngster by learning about Aspergers (high functioning autism) and providing a supportive and loving home environment. Remember that your youngster, just like every other youngster, has his or her own strengths and weaknesses and needs as much support, patience, and understanding as you can give.

Educating yourself about the condition and knowing what to expect is an important part of helping your youngster succeed outside of home and develop independence. Learn about Aspergers by talking to your doctor or contacting Asperger's organizations. This will reduce your and your family members' stress and help your youngster succeed.

The following are some suggestions on how to help your youngster who has Aspergers. Some of the ideas will be helpful, and some may not work for you. Flexibility, creativity, and a willingness to continue to learn will all help you as you raise your youngster.

General strategies for success:

• Be aware that background noises, such as a clock ticking or the hum of fluorescent lighting, may be distracting to your youngster.

• Kids with Aspergers benefit from daily routines for meals, homework, and bedtime. They also like specific rules, and consistent expectations mean less stress and confusion for them.

• Kids with Aspergers often mature more slowly. Don't always expect them to "act their age."

• Many children with Aspergers do best with verbal (rather than nonverbal) teaching and assignments. A direct, concise, and straightforward manner is also helpful.

• Children with Aspergers often have trouble understanding the "big picture" and tend to see part of a situation rather than the whole. That's why they often benefit from a parts-to-whole teaching approach, starting with part of a concept and adding to it to demonstrate encompassing ideas.

• Try to identify stress triggers and avoid them if possible. Prepare your youngster in advance for difficult situations, and teach him or her ways to cope. For example, teach your youngster coping skills for dealing with change or new situations.

• Visual supports, including schedules and other written materials that serve as organizational aids, can be helpful.

Strategies for developing social skills:

• Encourage your youngster to learn how to interact with children and what to do when spoken to, and explain why it is important. Give lots of praise, especially when he or she uses a social skill without prompting.

• Foster involvement with others, especially if your youngster tends to be a loner.

• Help your youngster understand others' feelings by role-playing and watching and discussing human behaviors seen in movies or on television. Provide a model for your youngster by telling him or her about your own feelings and reactions to those feelings.

• Practice activities, such as games or question-and-answer sessions, that call for taking turns or putting yourself in the other person's place.

• Teach your youngster about public and private places, so that he or she learns what is appropriate in both circumstances. For example, hugging may not be appropriate at school but is usually fine at home.

• Teach your youngster how to read and respond appropriately to social cues. Give him or her "stock" phrases to use in various social situations, such as when being introduced. You can also teach your youngster how to interact by role-playing.

• Your youngster may not understand the social norms and rules that come more naturally to other kids. Provide clear explanations of why certain behaviors are expected, and teach rules for those behaviors.

Strategies for school:

• Ask your youngster's teacher to seat your youngster next to classmates who are sensitive to your youngster's special needs. These classmates might also serve as "buddies" during recess, at lunch, and at other times.

• Be aware of and try to protect your youngster from bullying and teasing. Talk to your youngster's teacher or school counselor about educating classmates about Aspergers.

• Encourage your youngster's teacher to include your youngster in classroom activities that emphasize his or her best academic skills, such as reading, vocabulary, and art.

• Orient your youngster to the school setting. Before the school year starts, take time to "walk through" your youngster's daily schedule. You can also use pictures to make your youngster familiar with the new settings before school starts.

• Set up homework routines for your youngster by doing homework at a specific time and place every day. This will help your youngster learn about time management.

• Some kids with Asperger's have poor handwriting. Typing schoolwork on a computer may be one way to make homework easier. Using computers can also help kids improve fine motor skills and organize information. Occupational therapy may also be helpful.

• Use rewards to motivate your youngster. Allow him or her to watch TV or play a favorite video game or give points toward a "special interest" gift when he or she performs well.

• Use visual systems, such as calendars, checklists, and notes, to help define and organize schoolwork.

==> How To Prevent Meltdowns and Tantrums In Children With High-Functioning Autism and Asperger's

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