Understanding Your Aspergers or HFA Child

If your situation is like most parents’ situation, your Aspergers or High-Functioning Autistic (HFA) child’s behavior seems a bit odd at times. Here are a few tips to help you understand what’s going on with him or her:

1. Despite what has been widely written on, kids with Aspergers and HFA do have empathy for others. In fact, more often than not, they are rich with empathy – not devoid of it. More modern literature is starting to reflect this more accurate position. The difference is that the response is different in them.

Kids on the autism spectrum are often very lonely and can become depressed as a result of feeling out of place in the world. Reaching out to a youngster on the spectrum may open more questions for you than provide answers, but a greater effort is likely to yield a greater reward in the long run.

2. If your Aspergers or HFA youngster says ''I need help with ___'', that is what he needs help with, even if it doesn't seem possible. The other side of the coin is if the youngster says ''I am capable of ___'', it is a good idea to trust that.

3. Many kids on the spectrum are very intelligent and may have extraordinary skills that you may or may not understand, but at the same time, your youngster may lack what will seem to you to be common sense.

4. You and your "special needs" youngster do not experience life the same way, so their obstacles, interests, complaints, frustrations are likely to seem illogical to you and to those around you. There are many issues that contribute to the way they view the world around them. There are communication issues, stigma, sensory, 'stereotypical interests', unique responses to social issues, stressors, and additional things than you may be able to imagine.

If you look at it as if they are dodging paint balls all day long every day, paint balls which are invisible to you, it may make a little more sense that they move the way they do, talk the way they do, and make the decisions the way they do.

5. You and your Aspergers or HFA youngster do not think alike. This means that you are likely to misunderstand each other. Knowing this will enable you to do three things:
  • When family members, co-workers, friends seem to be having a ''group opinion'' in the negative, you have the insight to be able to say, ''It may appear to be that way, but I think it's a big misunderstanding''.
  • When he says or does something that seems hurtful, you can trust that it may not have been intended the way you thought, even if it seems very clear to you.
  • When you say or do something that your youngster takes offense to, you can trust that he is misunderstanding you honestly and not trying to be critical.

For moms and dads with children on the autism spectrum, consider this: Maybe it's not only about your youngster's understanding of the world, maybe it's the world's understanding of your youngster.

Aspergers is a neurological disorder, and is one of five diagnoses that comprise what's called “the autism spectrum.” The “autism” label has carried some serious baggage. So much so that in the 1960s there was born a movement of “anti-labelism” where kids were no longer stamped with a diagnosis, and instead their condition was referred to only as “special.”

This trend swung too far in the other direction though. Now it's time to embrace terms like “Aspergers” and “Autism,” so that those with the disorder can begin dealing with exactly what it is that makes them different—both the negatives and the positives.

What can moms and dads with Aspergers and HFA children do to handle stress? Here are some ideas:

1. Joining a support group can be a great way for families to relieve stress. When someone tells you “I understand …I've been there” – nothing feels better at that moment.

2. Make sure you're taken care of. There's a good reason that the airline stewardess instructs passengers to put the oxygen mask on themselves first before assisting their kids. If you can't be there in a healthy, operating way, you're not much good to your youngster.

3. One of the biggest challenges for children with Aspergers and HFA is an ability to shrug off life's failures. But, moms and dads can help their kids to process failure better. Praise, and praise, and praise for trying. Very often moms and dads say, “This is a special youngster, and I want to shield him from failure.” It's a good thought, but it's not the final resting ground. The final resting ground is independence and bravery.

4. Read up on the history of the disorder to find out how the view of it has developed over the years. Depending on the challenges of their particular youngster, moms and dads will feel some sense of pressure to change that youngster—maybe due to an outburst in the supermarket or an awkward conversation with the neighbors. We can all forgive ourselves when want to secede to societal pressure. What's important is this: loving your youngster for who he is.

==> My Aspergers Child: Preventing Meltdowns in Aspergers Children

Anonymous said... Our daughter has been diagnosed for 9 years now and it still helps to read these post! Thanks.Love the support.

Anonymous said... My husband has aspergers and im going through so much stress. I didnt know he had it when we was frist got married. He never knew too. One thing that haed to do everything. It hard when he doesnt understand what he says to me and sometimes he doesnt even remember he even said what he said that hurt me. Im trying to get him into therapy. But he doesnt what to. He need to learn how to communicate with me right and kknow what to do as a husband rule 

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