The Myths and Facts About High-Functioning Autism and Aspergers

Moms and dads with an Aspergers or high functioning autistic (HFA) youngster tend to overwhelm themselves with research, treatments, and general anxiety over their kid’s welfare. While this is natural, it's not particularly good for you, your child, your marriage, or the rest of your family. And the truth is this: it isn't even necessary!

Let’s dispel some myths that some parents have about HFA and Aspergers…

Myth #1: I Somehow Missed "The Cure" for My Youngster's Disorder

Did you somehow miss out on a pill, a supplement, a special treatment or a new therapy that could be "the one" that could have cured your youngster's disorder? The truth is, while many kids respond well to various therapies, even kids who are supposedly "recovered" still have some of the traits. Since there is no cure, there's no need to worry about it.

Myth #2: I Will Have to Cope with This Alone

When your youngster is diagnosed, you feel like you've just been tossed out of the "parent club." After all, your youngster is different, which means you may never “fit in” again. Luckily, there's a whole world of support groups, list-serves, pal clubs, parent groups and events where you're more than welcome. In fact, your presence is requested!

Myth #3: I Shouldn’t Expect Much from My "Special Needs" Child

Your youngster has a developmental disorder, so you need to lower your expectations – right? Wrong! Children with this condition may not have a lot of social skills (yet), and they may have some significant challenges ahead. But they also have great talents (as you probably have discovered already).

Myth #4: I Won’t Be Able to Have a Normal Life

When your youngster has HFA or Aspergers, you may feel ostracized from the ordinary world. In fact, though it may be a bit tougher, you can join in most of what life has to offer, even WITH an HFA youngster. From vacations to family holidays to visits to grandma - most of it is a matter of planning, patience, and a sense of humor. And for some people, success is even sweeter when it requires overcoming a challenge.

Myth #5: I Need To Do a Whole Lot of Research on Autism

Is there another article on Applied Behavioral Analysis I should be reading? Is fish oil really going to help my youngster? How about the gluten-free diet? There's always another question - and the web holds a million answers. Take a break, have a bubble bath, and re-connect with your spouse and the rest of your family. Research is O.K. to do some of the time, but too many parents make “research” an obsession.

Myth #6: I Have to Find Out What Caused my Youngster’s Disorder

The media is full of stories of what causes it, and you'll find answers galore, from TV to pitocin, from vaccines to Lyme Disease. Could one of these answers be correct? Absolutely. Do we know for sure WHICH is correct? No. You can sift and weigh the evidence and formulate an opinion, but as of today no one really knows what really causes the disorder. As a result, you're free to focus on the future instead of the past.

Myth #7: It’s probably too late to help My Youngster

Whether your son or daughter is three, thirteen, or twenty-three, he/she will still benefit from therapy. In fact, while early intervention is always helpful, the proverbial "window of opportunity" for treatment is a bit of a myth. So whatever your youngster's stage of life, you're not too late to make a difference.

We’ve looked at the myths, now let’s look at the facts…

If you're sick of hearing about all the "deficits" challenging children with HFA and Aspergers, join the club. But for every downside, there is a positive – and unusual trait that rarely appears among "typical" children, but shines-out among kids on the autism spectrum. These positives are worth celebrating:

Fact #1: Children on the Spectrum Are Less Materialistic

Of course, this is not universally true -- but in general, these children are far less concerned with outward appearance than their typical peers. As a result, they worry less about brand names, hairstyles and other expensive, but unimportant, externals than most children do.

Fact #2: Children on the Spectrum are Passionate

Of course, not all HFA and Aspergers children are alike. But many are truly passionate about the things, ideas and special interests in their lives. How many "typical" children can say the same?

Fact #3: Children on he Spectrum Play Fewer Head Games

Most of these children don't play games -- and they assume that you won't either. It's a refreshing and wonderful change from the typical B.S. that tarnishes too many typical relationships!

Fact #4: They  Rarely Lie

We all claim to value the truth, but almost all of us tell little white lies …all, that is, except children with this disorder. To them, truth is truth - and a good word from a child on the spectrum is usually the real deal.

Fact #5: They Live in the Moment

How often do typical children fail to notice what's in front of their eyes because they're distracted by social cues or random chitchat? Children with HFA and Aspergers truly attend to the sensory input that surrounds them. Many have achieved the ideal of mindfulness.

Fact #6: Children with HFA and Aspergers Are Not Tied to Social Expectations

If you've ever bought a car, played a game or joined a club to fit in, you know how hard it is to be true to yourself. But for children with an autism spectrum disorder, social expectations can be honestly irrelevant. What really matters to them is true liking, interest and passion -- not keeping up with the current trends and fads.

Fact #7: Children on the Spectrum Have Terrific Memories

How often do typical children forget directions, or fail to take note of colors, names, and other details? Children on the spectrum are often much more tuned in to details. They may have a much better memory than their typical peers for all kind of critical details.

Fact #8: They Rarely Judge Others

Who's in better shape? Richer? Smarter? For children with HFA and Aspergers, these distinctions hold much less importance than for typical kids. In fact, they often see through such surface appearances to discover the real person.

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