Published by: Durham Region Autism Services
People with Asperger’s Syndrome have difficulty with the social aspects of life and often have inappropriate responses to social situations. One of the major problems for children with Asperger’s Syndrome is understanding social cues in a given situation. Parents often struggle trying to find the best ways to help their Asperger’s child; it takes time, patience, practice and compassion.
While many parents notice something unusual in their child quite early, most try to explain “unorthodox” behavior of their child by all possible reasons except for the most likely one. When the fact that something is wrong becomes obvious, parents bring their child for psychological assessment. Accepting the diagnosis is a very difficult step. Denial that your child has Asperger’s will not help, the sooner you accept the reality, the better for you or your child.
The following tips can be useful for parents of Asperger’s children:
- Do not coddle or shelter your child from any situation that might set him/her off. Exposing your child to social situations will allow opportunities for both of you to work through them. With your guidance and over time, your child will be able to learn what the appropriate behaviors are in various situations. In addition, learn what your child’s triggers are to better prepare yourself to diffuse or alter a possible meltdown or display of undesired behavior(s).
- Be clear in your explanations of expected and/or desired behaviors when the situations arise. Do not expect that your child should know how to behave in different social situations and settings. Walk them through (thoroughly, but with the use of age-appropriate language) appropriate behaviors as well as emotional responses in accordance with the given social situations. You will have to repeat your explanations, but with time, your child should have a better understanding of the social skills necessary to achieve positive social interactions in diverse situations.
- Embrace your child’s passion, creativity, humor and energy when he/she exhibits it. With so much attention on changing your child’s behavior, you have to remember to celebrate the amazing traits of his/her personality. Children will notice the negative attention they are receiving as well as how much work they need to do to be able to enjoy a social life. Use every opportunity to admire your child for the qualities that make them special, talented and loveable. You may forget how important positive reinforcement is when you’re preoccupied with anxiety over the next Asperger’s instance.
- Your goal should always be to diffuse the situation. Going head to head with your child will never yield constructive results. If your child has an outburst in any social setting, do not yell at them because that will only make it worse. For example, if you are in a restaurant and the waitress gives your child the wrong meal, don’t yell at your child to stop screaming, crying, banging on the table or for whatever reaction he/she has in response. Ask your child to come with you and take a walk. After you’ve been successful in helping your child regain composure, have a discussion to convey to one another your child’s thoughts and emotions throughout that particular experience. Use this teachable moment to work through your child’s emotions together while coming up with different ways that they can handle a similar situation (or even the same one) in the future. Click here to read the rest of the story