General Question

dubsrayboo's avatar

How do you let your special needs child become independent without stressing out?

Asked by dubsrayboo (2199 points ) March 8th, 2011

My daughter with Aspergers wanted to walk over to a friends house. Her older sister was already there and couldn’t go with her. She wanted to go on her own and knows the route well. She’s high functioning so I didn’t think that it would be a problem. But I found myself finding every excuse to not let her go on her own, the biggest is that she would be on a busy road. Much to my relief my older daughter called and asked me to come over for something, thus alleviating the stress of letting my Aspberger daughter walk on her own.

She’s 11 years old, and I feel that I still don’t have the faith in her to be independent when she often doesn’t act that way in certain circumstances. I do let her be home alone when she’s secure and stable for an hour or two at a time. But other than that I want to be around or have her sister there.

How can I let go and let her grow more?

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13 Answers

SpatzieLover's avatar

Do you regularly seek professional help? We see a psychologist weekly for my husband and bi-weekly for my son. Both have Asperger’s.

I will give more help. First I want to know what type of help you are receiving.

dubsrayboo's avatar

@spatziellover She sees her psychiatrist once every 3 months for her ADHD and her therapist about every 2 months. She should see them more I suppose, but it goes in waves. She functions really well for a while and then BAM! All hell breaks loose.

dubsrayboo's avatar

Also when I do take her in for therapy it’s a talk session, I don’t see the help and there isn’t much guidance or change. And I don’t know what to look for in a therapist that specializes in Aspergers.

nicobanks's avatar

Let your daughter in on this issue so that she can work with you. Basically, you need to see proof that she can handle herself before you’ll let her handle herself on her own. If she doesn’t know what you need, how can she give it to you?

For example, let’s say when you walk with your daughter down a busy street, she regularly does dangerous things like goofing around and jumping into the street. She might do this because she wants your attention, she’s teasing you, and she knows she’s safe and protected because you’re there to watch out for her. Of course, since this is how you see her acting, you’re not going to want to let her walk down a busy street alone! But that doesn’t mean she isn’t perfectly capable of doing so safely. If she knows you’re watching out for that behaviour, she will drop the act and show you exactly what she’s capable of.

nicobanks's avatar

@dubsrayboo You should tell your daughter’s therapist that (your last comment). Give him/her the opportunity not just to explain his/her intentions and methods to you, but also to maybe try something different or recommend someone else who may be more up your alley. Otherwise it’s a waste of everyone’s time.

SpatzieLover's avatar

I agree with @nicobanks. You need to tell all of this to the therapist. Is the therapist the one that diagnosed the AS? Or was it someone else?

Every single session with my son and my husband, we walk away with homework. EVERY SINGLE SESSION. Our psychologist has mainly AS and schizophrenia patients. She is easy to communicate with and instantly “get it” when we describe a situation or an issue that has developed in our home.

If yours doesn’t “get” AS, then it’s time to seek a new therapist. Your local Autism chapter should have references for professionals well versed in Asperger’s. Seek out professionals that understand. Your daughter will need assistance throughout her life. It’d be a good move to find proper assistance now.

As for your question: You are not trusting that she can handle it yet. It’s obvious from some of your other questions that your daughter is in need of more routines, rules and assistance so that you can feel that she can handle it. You need to set her up for success for every outing she goes on for a few months before you will know she can handle it.

I can describe how to set her up for success, but it really would be best if this was backed up and checked on by a professional.

missingbite's avatar

@dubsrayboo Please contact me via a PM for more information if you would like but I can tell you about a product that is perfect for your situation. The company is Adiant Solutions. My family owns the company and they are working with autistic children that both are “runners” and also highly functioning children that want and need more freedom. I can get you in touch with the owner of the company if you would like. Good luck!

dubsrayboo's avatar

@SpatzieLover This therapist is not the same one that diagnosed her. He seems to “get” AS but he really doesn’t give much advise on how to make things easier for her or me/family. Like last time we were having problems with dinner and being at the table. All he did was tell her how important being with the family was and that she needed to sit at the table. Whether she ate or not was her choice but she had to be there then he dropped the subject. Yeah that night she was at the table, but I wonder if there was anything else or is this how therapy goes?

Personal note, I feel like a flop trying to help her.

Cruiser's avatar

I might suggest baby steps. When my son was that age he needed to become more independent and it took a leap of faith in my son that he could handle himself. Maybe you could walk with her but stay a ½ block behind to observe. Or you could drop her off a block or two away from the busy street and let her walk to and enter the home alone and pick her up in the same manner. Good luck.

SpatzieLover's avatar

@Cruiser I agree. Life for an Aspie needs to be broken down into baby steps. Then those add up to routines (aka life rules).

No, it sounds to me like the therapist doesn’t get what’s going on in your Aspie’s head. Telling her won’t work for anything. Everything you need her to accomplish needs to be broken down into simple steps and shown or acted out to her. Everything

Each session, we work on some social aspect, which then needs to be practiced. Each week we work on some life skills issue, that needs to be implemented and sustained. Then, we work on family life/health & well being stuff (like making mornings smoother, or melt downs less frequent-etc).

Back to your initial question:How long can you trust your daughter to be at a grocery store and not act up? Or at church or an event? How long can she sit with you at a restaurant to eat?

Cruiser's avatar

@SpatzieLover I went through 3 highly recommended therapists before we found one that understood not only what my son needed in the way of help but us as parents so we could understand what our son needed from us as his parents.

dubsrayboo's avatar

@Cruiser ohhh I need one of those therapists

SpatzieLover's avatar

@dubsrayboo & @Cruiser We were blessed on our first try to…but that was because I trusted my mommy intuition. When I went to our family doc with a laundry list of symptoms we were recognizing in our son (all indications pointed to strong sensory issues), his first referral was for a psychiatrist because he thought “it sounded like ADD”. I think my eyes bugged out of my head. Then I said, “A Psychiatrist?!” as calmly as I could. To which he wrote a therapy clinic name on the back of the referral card and said “Well you could try here first if you want”. (as in..if you want to waist some time first)

I came home, did some Net research quick. Found the clinic to be in high regard, and made the call. Then I found out that out of 20 some therapists only one was qualified and experienced to handle a child the age of five.

When he called me back, I knew he understood. He asked in depth, direct questions. By the first visit, upon meeting my son & my husband he already was making recommendations for us to get on therapy waiting lists. He is a LFMC and has a Master’s in Social work. He made an “unofficial” diagnosis for both of my men…then he called around. He happens to teach at a University, so he had good networking connections.

His referral was for the only psychologist in our area skilled enough to handle AS in small children. She also happens to be one of the only Social Therapy providers in our area of Wisconsin.

Upon our first meeting with her, she described what her goals are with her AS patients, what way she prefers to conduct her sessions, and discussed how much input and work she wanted from us for her work to be successful.

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