How Discussing Asperger's Syndrome with My Child Improved His Growth and Empowerment

FamilyParenting

  • Author Sarah Perkens
  • Published April 13, 2024
  • Word count 931

Discussing Asperger's Syndrome with your child is a significant and sensitive task, especially at an early age. It involves explaining to them about their unique way of experiencing the world, their strengths, and the challenges they might face. This conversation is crucial for their self-understanding, self-acceptance, and growth.

Below is an in-depth exploration of why it's important to have this discussion, what Asperger's is, and how understanding this diagnosis can be advantageous for your child. This article is strongly based on my own experiences with a son who has Asperger's, and the struggles I had and mistakes that I have made.

Understanding Asperger's Syndrome

Asperger's Syndrome is considered an autism spectrum disorder. People with Asperger's experience significant difficulties in the social interaction and nonverbal communication, alongside restricted and repetitive patterns of behavior and interests. However, they typically do not have the intellectual and language development delays that often are associated with autism. In fact, children with Asperger's tend to function very well and independently, however, they often struggle in social relationships, are often bullied, and are at risk of feeling lonely.

The Importance of Discussing Asperger's with Your Child

There are five broad reasons why it is important to discuss Asperger's with your child, even at a young age:

Self-Awareness and Acceptance: Understanding their diagnosis helps children recognize and make better sense of their feelings, behaviors, and experiences. This self-awareness is the first step towards self-acceptance among children, which is also crucial for their emotional and mental health.

Empowerment: Knowledge about their condition empowers children. It gives them the language to describe their experiences and the confidence to advocate for themselves in social, educational, and later, professional settings. Understanding their condition at a young age also supports them in their development.

Building Coping Strategies: Awareness of their condition allows children and their families to develop tailored coping strategies for the challenges they may face. Even at a young age, children learn how to cope with their diagnosis and find appropriate strategies to turn their diagnosis in their advantage. This includes social skills training, sensory integration therapy, and cognitive behavioral therapy, among others.

Fostering Understanding and Empathy in Others: Sharing this knowledge with friends and family can promote a more supportive and understanding environment for the child. It helps dismantle misconceptions about Asperger's and autism and fosters empathy and inclusivity.

Planning for the Future: Understanding their strengths and challenges enables children and their families to make informed decisions about education, career choices, and life skills development, setting the stage for a fulfilling and independent life.

How to Discuss Asperger's with Your Child

Discussing the diagnosis of Asperger's with your child is a daunting task. At their age, they may also be vulnerable and may not understand the diagnosis you are trying to explain, thinking their is something wrong with them. I would like to share five tips on how to discuss this diagnosis with your child in a child-friendly manner.

Use Age-Appropriate Language: Explain Asperger's in a way that matches your child's cognitive and emotional development level. Use simple terms and analogies they can relate to.

Focus on Strengths and Challenges: Highlight that everyone has strengths and challenges, and having Asperger's means theirs are unique. Emphasize their talents and interests while acknowledging the areas where they might need support.

Encourage Questions: Make it a two-way conversation. Encourage your child to ask questions and express their feelings. Be honest but reassuring in your responses.

Provide Resources: Offer books or videos about Asperger's that are designed for children. These resources can help them understand their diagnosis in a relatable and non-threatening way.

Reassure Them of Your Love and Support: Let your child know that they are loved and supported unconditionally. Reassure them that having Asperger's does not change how you feel about them.

Turning Asperger's into an Advantage

Now that you understand Asperger's Syndrome and have discussed the diagnosis with your child, it is time to find strategies that actually help your child to benefit from this situation. From my experience, there are five tips that could benefit you.

Channeling Interests into Skills: Many individuals with Asperger's have intense interests. Encouraging your child to explore these can lead to the development of specialized skills and expertise.

Problem-Solving Abilities: Some children with Asperger's have a unique approach to problem-solving. Their ability to think outside the box can be a significant asset in creative and analytical fields.

Attention to Detail: A common trait among individuals with Asperger's is a heightened attention to detail. This can be advantageous in professions requiring precision and meticulousness.

Loyalty and Integrity: Children with Asperger's often have a strong sense of loyalty and a high level of integrity. These qualities make them reliable and trustworthy friends and employees.

Pursuing Careers Aligned with Their Strengths: With the right guidance, children with Asperger's can pursue careers that align with their strengths. Fields such as science, technology, engineering, arts, and mathematics (STEAM) can be particularly suitable.

Key Takeaways

Discussing Asperger's with your child is not just about informing them of a diagnosis; it's about nurturing their self-esteem, empowering them to face challenges with resilience, and encouraging them to embrace their unique perspective on the world. It's a delicate balance of acknowledging the difficulties they may face while also celebrating their individuality and potential. It's about teaching them how to become a stronger personality by understanding who they are, how they are perceived by others, and how they can best manifest themselves in social environments. By approaching this conversation with sensitivity, honesty, and love, parents can lay the groundwork for their child's future success and happiness.

My name is Sarah Perkens, 41 years. Mother to three wonderful children (Sebastian, Dwight, and Lara), wife to Enrico, and I try to be the best parent. I am motivated to read about improving my parental skills, and to publish content about topics for other parents to improve their parental practices. My son Dwight was diagnosed with Asperger's Syndrome. In this article, I share my experiences and reflect on how discussing to my son that he has Asperger's actually improved his life (and relieved me).

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