Coping with Aspergers Syndrome and its Effects on the Family

Having a child diagnosed with Aspergers Syndrome (AS), also referred to as Asperger's Disorder, undoubtedly affects every member of the household as well as the marriage or relationship of the parents or primary caregivers.

And while stress is something all parents must face and deal with on a regular basis, when a family is coping with Aspergers Syndrome those feelings can be maximized and compounded with the unique stressors the condition may cause.

Although exact treatment methods will depend upon variables such as IQ and level of functioning, there are still a number of simple yet important things families and parents can do when it comes to managing the behavior caused by Aspergers Syndrome beginning with learning as much as possible about this medical condition.

More common in boys than in girls, Aspergers Syndrome is largely considered to be a highly functioning type of autism whose cause is unknown although genetic factors are thought to be involved. In the DSM-5, Aspergers disorder was eliminated from the old version of Diagnostic Manual, DSM_IV, and was classified under the Autism Spectrum Disorder.

Aspergers Syndrome (Autism Spectrum Disorder) causes symptoms that include difficulties interacting with others socially along with having delayed motor functions. Other symptoms may include making repetitive movements, a preoccupation with specific items or areas of interest, and having a lack of emotion.

Children with Aspergers Syndrome often have higher than average IQs and possess normal verbal skills but are unable to express themselves in the usual manner. These children are often singled out by their peers as being "strange" or "odd" and therefore will need special attention in this area as they usually want to "fit in" but are unable to do so.

Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder want to "fit in" but do not know how to do so.

They need help and support to acquire skills to socialize and communicate more effectively with other people.

4 Helpful Tips:

Teach Children Social Skills and Coping Skills

Help your child to learn social cues including simple things such as conversing with others, learning about emotions and facial expressions, or learning about eye contact, the skills that are incredibly difficult for those with AS to master.

Group therapy and activities are the best way to teach children about social and communication skills. They can learn and practice those skills in the group setting.

Finding out the best coping skills for your children is also important. Do your children tend to calm themselves when they are taking a shower/a bath, receiving a massage, exercise (walking/running/swimming), drawing pictures, or listening to music? Talk about things that may help your children calm with your children. You and your children can put those in their "coping box." When your children became a bit agitated or frustrated, you can simply mention coping skills box/list to your children to pick.

Setting Routines and Predictable Environment

Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder tend to have a difficult time with transitioning from one activity to another. Giving them enough time to transition by giving them verbal cues such as "you have 5 more minutes," or visual cues such as a clock showing remaining time are very helpful. 

Also, regularly offering a safe and predictable environment with ordinary daily routines can help your child focus, concentrate, and function at a higher level. Children with Autism Spectrum tend to do better if there are a set of routines to follow. If you need to change the routines due to family functioning or schedule conflicts at school, you will need to let your children know about the change so that they can prepare for and predict the changes.

Basic Healthy Lifestyle

It is important to have the basic healthy lifestyle. It seems to be so obvious but we all know that it is difficult to implement. The basic healthy lifestyle includes eating balanced meals and snack (nutritious vegetables, meats, and grains), sleeping well, and exercise. Eliminate those junk foods, sweets, and pops. This basic healthy lifestyle will benefit not only your children, but also other family members including you as a parent.

Educate other people

Educating people about Asperger's Syndrome is the ideal way of helping others to help your child as most children with the condition will have no outward signs of a disability. Alerting parents, teachers, and coaches as well as older children about your child's condition can help to narrow the gap that exists between those with AS and the rest of the world.

Nurturing your marriage when parenting a child with AS.

It's imperative to reach out to others for support when parenting a child with Aspergers Syndrome. In addition to resources in your local community for networking with other families affected by the condition, the Internet is chock full of discussion boards, forums, and groups devoted to parenting children with Asperger's.

Many families struggle with issues such as time constraints, social outings, and ordinary aspects of daily life such as bedtime or mealtime and because of all this, parents often have difficulty finding time to be alone to nurture their own relationship.

Although many parents feel that no one else would be able to take care of their child the way they do it's important for them to delegate and rely upon trusted family members and friends in order to avoid burnout and becoming overwhelmed by the rigors of day to day life.

Even just a few moments each day can make a real difference when it comes to coping with the maladaptive behaviors typical of Asperger's Syndrome and keeping the lines of communication open between parents.

Something as simple as taking a daily walk after dinner or taking a bike ride through the neighborhood can work wonders for parents struggling with all of the usual aspects of life along with coping with AS.

Some parents choose to seek individual or family counseling while others become active in their local chapter of autism or Asperger's groups.

In addition to taking time to be together and just enjoy each other's company, parents of children with Aspergers Syndrome also need to remember to praise and reward each other for everything they are doing to help keep the family unit strong.

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