Being a parent in general is one of, if not the most difficult job anyone could ever imagine. It is the one job where you do not get a set of instructions, anything can happen so expect the unexpected, and there is no pay never mind a raise involved. If it is difficult raising a child, imagine parenting a child with Asperger’s Syndrome.
A child with Asperger’s Syndrome, like other children diagnosed with a developmental disorder may need to be parented a little “differently”. Some strategies and tips can come in handy to help your child as well as the parent get through.
Rules & Small Goals:
A child diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome needs to be given rules like all other children. If your AS child misbehaves it may be easier to allow him or her to continue the tantrum, but this really is not teaching the child anything. Where there is no teaching then there is no learning and then there is no help in changing behaviors.
- Small Steps: If you want your child to do something such as clean his or her room then the steps should be broken down, rather than asking for the entire room to be cleaned. That is the goal but it should be divided into smaller tasks. For example:
- Pick up Barbie dolls.
- Put dirty clothes in Hamper.
- Make Bed.
The small steps or goals can lead to the child getting more done. A child diagnosed with AS has difficulty listening to begin with, so the smaller goals and lists will help direct the child to what he or she should be doing.
- Behavior Chart: Just because the child with Asperger’s Syndrome may throw a tantrum does not mean that he or she should be allowed to. Print off a behavior chart - either make one up on your own or search for free printable charts online. The child needs to be taught rules and the consequences of breaking them. Having a behavior chart will allow the child to “see” the rules and understand what steps need to be taken to get a reward for good behavior. Rules should be simple and clear, and the rewards or punishments stated as well. A child diagnosed with AS takes things very literally, so simple and to the point makes it easier.
A child diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome likes consistency and would much rather follow a set schedule. If you know or think there will be a difference in your child’s normal daily schedule, you can try to prepare the child. An example may be a visit to the dentist.
- Prepare the child by telling him or her where you will be going after school. To the dentist instead of straight home.
- Go over a few things the dentist may do: Again, use a list and small steps.
- You will sit in the big chair.
- Mommy will be in the room with you.
- Then the doctor will take a look at your teeth.
- He may count them or tap on them to see how strong they are.
- He will then clean them with bubblegum toothpaste.
- You will then rinse with water.
- Before you leave you will get a surprise such as a toothbrush.
A child diagnosed with AS will be referred to support groups or given therapeutic intervention. The parent may also be referred as well.
- Parent training workshops: Classes where parents are trained to deal with their AS child. It has been shown through research parenting a child diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome can be easier if the parents attend workshops where management intervention for the AS child is taught (Sofronoff , Leslie, & Brown, 2004). The results of this study showed that parent management intervention decreased behaviors and social issues related to Asperger’s Syndrome.
- Support Groups: There are many support groups out there these days that are aimed at various illnesses, disorders, and situations. Support groups for parents with a child diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome is more than likely meeting in your very own neighborhood or even online in chat rooms. Here you can not only connect with others who may be going through the same situations as yourself but also get some firsthand tips from parents dealing with the same issues.
- Counseling: The parents, caregivers, or even siblings may be referred to private or group counseling for help with dealing with a child diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome.
Parenting a child with Asperger’s may be very difficult but it can be done effectively. The parent must remember to take things slowly and explain things not only clearly but in simple terms for the child. The child diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome does not like change so if there is to be an upcoming schedule change, it is best to go over the change with the child.
The best advice a parent will get may not be from the mental health professional but instead from their support group parents. Remember not everyone is in the same parenting position as you, but there are parents out there dealing with similar issues.
Sofronoff, K., Leslie, A., & Brown, W. (2004). Parent management training and Asperger syndrome: a randomized controlled trial to evaluate a parent based intervention. Autism , 301-317.