Coping and supportBy Mayo Clinic staff
Asperger's syndrome can be a difficult, lonely disorder — both for affected children and their parents. The disorder brings difficulties socializing and communicating with your child. It may also mean fewer play dates and birthday invitations and more stares at the grocery store from people who don't understand that a child's meltdown is part of a disability, not the result of "bad parenting."
Luckily, as this disorder gains widespread recognition and attention, there are more and more sources of help. Here are a few suggestions:
- Maintain a consistent schedule whenever possible. If you have to introduce change, try to do so gradually.
- Learn about the disorder. There are numerous books and websites dedicated to the disorder. Do some research so that you better understand your child's challenges and the range of services in your school district and state that may help.
- Learn about your child. The signs and symptoms of Asperger's syndrome vary for each child, and young children have a hard time explaining their behaviors and challenges. But, with time and patience, you'll learn which situations and environments may cause problems for your child and which coping strategies work. Keeping a diary and looking for patterns may help.
- Find a team of trusted professionals. You'll need to make important decisions about your child's education and treatment. Find a team of teachers and therapists who can help evaluate the options in your area and explain the federal regulations regarding children with disabilities.
- Help others help your child. Most children with Asperger's syndrome have no visible sign of disability, so you may need to alert coaches, relatives and other adults to your child's special needs. Otherwise, a well-meaning coach may spend time lecturing your child on "looking at me while I'm talking" — something that can be very difficult for a child with Asperger's syndrome.
- Help your child turn his or her obsession into a passion. The tendency to fixate on a particular narrow topic is one of the hallmarks of Asperger's syndrome, and it can be annoying to those who must listen to incessant talk about the topic every day. But a consuming interest can also connect a child with Asperger's syndrome to schoolwork and social activities. In some cases, kids with Asperger's syndrome can even turn their childhood fascination into a career or profession.
- Find support. Lean on family and friends when you can. Ask someone who understands your child's needs to babysit sometimes so that you can get an occasional break. You may also find a support group for parents of children with Asperger's syndrome helpful. Ask your child's doctor if he or she knows of any groups in your area. Or, visit the Online Asperger Syndrome Information and Support website.
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