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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.


Anonymous said...

Wow, this article describes me to a tee! I have been obsessive and consumed with knowing the latest treatments, research, and everything and anything about Aspergers every since my daughter was diagnosed two years ago. This article was very reassuring.

Anonymous said...

This was a great article!! I like to focus on the positive things in life. This is a gift my Aspie gave to me. Some days are more challenging, but when they are good, they are the BEST!!

Anonymous said...

Loved this article. It puts it all into perspective. Thanks for this great information.

Anonymous said...

I really love getting these articles from the site, it really does help me to understand and find other ways to interact with my son

Anonymous said...

Saw this post at a great time since I've been wondering the past couple of days why our son wasn't diagnosed sooner (he's 9) and how could we have missed it?

Anonymous said...

My son is 14 and I am 100% sure he has aspergers though the process of diagnosis has taken so long and we aren't even on the first step of the ladder!...I was almost for giving up and packing the whole 'finding out if he is' thing til I read a few of the comments and some of the articles from this site..Even though you know you aren't in a unique situation you tend to become isolated in your circumstances and cant help feeling you are alone, so God willing I will continue to make it habit to visit the site if only to remind oneself of the fact there are many more out there struggling to do their best for their loved ones. Thanks..

Anonymous said...

thank you my son is 7 yrs old and we found out today. this has really helped me to see the good points and I want to thank you for that

Anonymous said...

This article is my son all over! By now we just figure that he is who he is, and try to keep him involved in a few activities like Lego Club for the social interaction. As long as he stays happy and involved in something we will keep going as we are.

Anonymous said...

my son at age 3 1/2 was diagnosed mild aspergers. it has been a daily struggle for me to find what i thought would be a balence between "what's wrong with my son" and "he seems so normal to me" it's nice to read something that reassures my feelings about. that my child is my child, no matter what the doctor's diagnosis is!

jcarsi said...

I so love this article because you've nailed how we parents feel most of the time and how alienated we feel from typical families --- acceptance is the key :-) I also appreciate the FACTS you've added below since this reminds us how special our aspies are.

Anonymous said...

It is because a lot of asperger kids act Almost like normal kids until there older 9-13 is an average time to be diagnosed

Anonymous said...

After all is said and done, I am finding that my 10 year old stepson, with a little extra preparation, is able to handle almost every situation, and requires a minimum of guidance to interact with his peers and his world. I have a great deal of confidence that he's going to find his niche and have an amazing life, no different than anyone else might expect.

Anonymous said...

I am so confused. My nephew has been diagnosed as an aspie and his traits are so different.He tell great big whoppers and is often quite obsessed with owning brand name products and items. He tends to be aggressive and angry ( especially with his mother) and I worry that his diagnosis is incorrect.

Unknown said...

Regarding the person with the Aspie nephew. I don't think the diagnosis is necessarily incorrect. Many Aspie symptoms appear contradictory at first. I have Aspergers and I spent my whole childhood habitually lying to 'survive' to say what was expected of me until it became second nature. Many don't lie because they are not considering the other person's mental state, they are not interested in deception. Although a lot of Aspies are not concerned with fashion or brands this is because we lack the 'herd instinct'However Aspies are very prone to developing obsesssions and this could be brands; not because we are interested in fitting in, but because we like catogries, collecting and variations on a theme. Anger is common because many Aspies especially children are detached from their emotions. They don't know how they are feeling, let alone know how to talk about their emotions, so they get frustrated and act on them. Anger is often the flip side of anxiety and if you factor in the stress of school and the poor organisational and attention skills many Aspies face, there is often good reason for our anger! It's good to remember that Aspergers is an incredibly complex condition and that Aspies really do vary just as much as non-aspies-this is really important to keep in mind. Articles like this although helpful as a starting point; do oversimplify a condition that takes time and patience to properly understand. My advice would be to read a good solid book on the subject. Both 'A Guide to Asperger Syndrome' by Christopher Gillberg, and 'Autism:Explaining the Enigma' by Uta Frith are excellent readable choices, particularly the latter.
Much can be done to help your nephew; I had huge difficulties as a child and now I have a degree and active social life.

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

Social rejection has devastating effects in many areas of functioning. Because the ASD 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 Children on the Spectrum

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 or HFA child is totally out-of-control. When it ends, both you and your 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 Teens on the Spectrum

Although Aspergers [high-functioning autism] is at the milder end of the autism spectrum, the challenges parents face when disciplining a teenager on the spectrum are more difficult than they would be with an average teen. Complicated by defiant behavior, the 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…

Older Teens and Young Adult Children with ASD 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 ASD 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…

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...

Highly Effective Research-Based Parenting Strategies for Children with Asperger's and HFA

Become an expert in helping your child cope with his or her “out-of-control” emotions, inability to make and keep friends, stress, anger, thinking errors, and resistance to change.

Click here for the full article...