In the last few years, there has been an increase in the recognition of and treatment of Asperger’s syndrome. I work with many children and adults who have Asperger’s Syndrome. I want to share some thoughts and resources for parents. In later posts, I will address the strengths and great future prospects for people with Asperger’s Syndrome.
You should always watch your child carefully and take her or him to the pediatrician as a newborn and then toddler. Asperger’s symptoms may appear early in terms of lack of usual emotional expressions, an unwillingness to look a person in the face, developmental delays in speech, insensitive, or at the other extreme, very sensitive to touch, and so on. Your pediatrician should be able to spot these issues and raise the possibility of Asperger’s. What your doctor should then do is to refer your child for further assessment. There may be other issues going on. You and your partner should also see a therapist as well during this period, one who is familiar with Asperger’s and other developmental issues.
What To Do If Your Child Is Diagnosed With Asperger’s
Should your child be officially diagnosed with Asperger’s, do not panic—for your child or for yourself! First, there are more resources and treatment for Asperger’s. Second, there is a growing acceptance and accommodation for Asperger’s. And, third, “Aspies,” as they often like to be called, see themselves as human and as unique as the rest of humankind.
So, what are the resources? The first is Autism Now, which has a wonderful website and resources throughout the country. They provide you with a parent kit once your child is diagnosed; the kit will help you marshal your strengths and get other resources. The second are local centers for people with disabilities or their equivalents. It’s possible that you can have your child assessed and provided with a social worker and other resources, if eligible. Your doctor and/or therapist should be able to help you arrange that. The third are university centers for autism or major hospital departments. The fourth are specialty schools which serve kids with Asperger’s.
If your child is in public school, you should request an Individualized Education Plan for her or him. That plan will help your child with accommodations. I will write more about this shortly. At this point, you want to make sure your child is recognized for what she or he needs and not bullied or stigmatized. You also want to make sure your child is tested for other possible issues. Some of these may include auditory or visual processing difficulties and ADD/ADHD. Your Asperger’s child may have some obsessive-compulsive type behaviors as well. S/he may be particularly finicky about food preferences and clothing textures.
Take heart! You can work through all of these. As you address them, make sure that you have an experienced therapist and specialist backup for your child. More, soon!