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livingchoice's avatar

How do you cope and raise a child with Aspbergers Syndrome or High-Functioning Autism?

Asked by livingchoice (538 points ) February 11th, 2014

I need help! There is a possibility that my 4 year old might have Aspbergers or High-Functioning Autism and I’m freaking out. I want to know as a parent what are the challenges you face, What’s involved in raising a child with this syndrome, What are your personal challenges if you have this syndrome or know someone who does. What resources do you use to cope. What medical treatments do they go through? Can it be averted if caught at a young age/ How? etc. I’ve done some online research but am looking for some first, second or even third had experience/insight.

I feel that asking these questions and knowing what’s ahead of me is the only way I can cope right now.

Thank you for helping me sort this out.

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14 Answers

bolwerk's avatar

Until your child is diagnosed, why even worry? Aspergers syndrome is no longer a diagnosis, but the people who have high functioning autism are often very intelligent people. They often have social problems, but not damning ones. With therapy, people with high functioning autism can lead pretty normal lives. They may even be gifted in some ways.

Maybe talk to your pediatrician or a child psychologist? I think you’re worrying too much, but they’d have better answers.

gailcalled's avatar

MY sister’s second little grandson, now aged 8, falls on the high-functioning autism scale. You need to get your four-year old evaluated immediately. There are many, many forms of therapy, treatment and modalities. But you must be in the system, and if you need services, you want to start right away.

In NYS, physical therapy, occupational therapy and behavior therapy are services provided for by the state. There are many, many support groups and huge numbers of families who support each other.

http://www.autismsupportnetwork.com
http://www.autism-society.org

(Asperger’s)

At present, autism is not curable but with services and treatments, the children learn all sorts of coping skills. My little nephew is mainstreamed at school and has his own aid for several hours each day to help him with the hard parts, which are mainly appropriate social behavior and getting easily overstimulated by noise and hurly-burly. He is intellectually gifted and ahead of grade in several subjects.

He was diagnosed well before his second birthday and has been getting daily services ever since. He is happiest with his parents, two brothers and any domestic animal.

At present, as far as I know, there is no special medical treatment. My niece uses food choices very carefully; her little son is a picky eater and right now likes only chicken, popcorn, edamame beans and bananas so it is a challenge.

pleiades's avatar

There are programs out there that can help both you and your child be evaluated and helped if need be. My son is delayed in speech and he is taking therapy. It’s helping both of us communicate much more successfully. It’s also supposedly going to help with the tantrums. ABA is one of hell of a science

jerv's avatar

If true, there’s no averting it; it’s genetic.

But I turned out fine with little help beyond a supportive mother. Married for over a decade, well-paying job… almost normal life.

More later; posting from work on my phone, and lunch is almost over.

Mimishu1995's avatar

You say you are ”freaking out”? Why?
Aspergers or High Function Autism are nothing to fear of. Of course anyone who have it are unfortunate, but they can benefit from it too. They are usually very intelligent and have natural talents for a lot of things. Some can even achieve amazing success that normal people sometimes can’t!
In short, the society needs and benefits from Aspergers!
The only problem most Aspergers have to face is socializing.

So, first of all, you have to accept your child as who he/she is! That’s what an Asperger need most. Aspergers usually have very low self-esteem. If people underestimate them, ridicule them or isolate them, they can be very depressed and lots of negative consequence will happen. I don’t approve of you ”freaking out” after finding out your child is an Asperger. Just think like this: he/she is just a normal person with a different way of thinking.
I don’t live in the US so I can’t recommend any support organizations or groups for you. But I can give you some advice on how to live with your child.
– Your child is 4 years old right? Then you can explain some basic social cues for him/her easily. You should sometimes play with your child as if you are his/her peers then explain to him/her what behavior the peers like and dislike. That will help the child understand how to behave correctly.
– If your child has a special interest, DO NOT force him/her to give up, unless it is potentially harmful like interest in poison. Aspergers use their special interest as a way to release stress and a “shield” to protect them from the world (the world can be cruel to Aspergers). If the special interest is potentially harmful, then you have to guide your child in a way that the interest cannot harm your child.
– If your child have a diagnosis, show it to his/her teachers by the time he/she starts school. Teachers can be sympathetic and have some ways to help your child.
– Find your child a trusted “protective partner” at school. Aspergers are easy target for bullying. A protective partner can help reduce the bullying toward your child.
– Know what your child’s talent is and try to help your child develop it to the fullest. Aspergers (and the society too) will benefit from the talent. You will be quite amazed to learn how talented your child may be.
– Be more tolerant to your child’s seemingly “eccentric” behavior. Aspergers lack of social skills. Bear that in mind.
– Give your child as much love as you can. Make sure your child trust you and consider home as the relaxing place after a stressful day outside. Your child is 4 years old, so he may not be aware of his/her difference, but as he/she grows up, he/she will eventually realize it and will be very depressed. He/she can also be the good target for bullying. Make sure he/she thinks home is a “safe zone”. That will help reduce the stress and depression inside him/her.
– Be aware of any sight of stress in your child. Aspergers are prone of stress. Do your best to reduce the stress your child have once you notice it.

I hope I have helped you. I’m sure your child will grow up to be a successful and happy person in the future, with the help of his/her talent.

Good luck with raising your child! I wish the best for your family!

gailcalled's avatar

The person who shadows my autistic nephew in school is an aide (not aid).

jerv's avatar

@Mimishu1995 Asperger is the name of the doctor who first discovered the condition. Many of us who have Aspergers prefer “Aspie”. Descriptive, concise, rolls off the tongue easier….

Childhood is rough. Most kids are all about the socializing, social standing, fitting in, etcetera. Most kids also pick up social skills naturally, almost instinctively. For us, it’s about like a dyslexic person learning to read; not impossible, but far from instinctive, and unlikely to ever be as good as those that have an aptitude for social skills (most people). We’re different, and for those between 4 and 18, being different will get you picked on.

Mimishu1995's avatar

@jerv Asperger is the name of the doctor who first discovered the condition. Many of us who have Aspergers prefer “Aspie”. Descriptive, concise, rolls off the tongue easier….
I know it already. I just don’t know what else to call a person with Asperger.

GloPro's avatar

I think reinforcing eye contact and appropriate forms of physical interaction is important for a 4 year old. Socialization is definitely a challenge.

jerv's avatar

Thing is, some things manifest differently. Personally, I have never had a problem with eye contact… except sometimes holding it too long. The diversity of symptoms and manifestations is a problem when it comes to both diagnosis and treatment. But there are some things that are pretty universal.

It’s a bit difficult to socialize someone who really has no concept of other people though. I spent many of my school years wondering how it was possible for anybody to get less than a 90% on a math test. It never occurred to me that other people were wired differently, or had different knowledge.

How many native English-speakers can think in fluent Russian? People are a foreign language. Even once it’s understood that other people do not share our thought processes, there is no real understanding of what those differences are.

So understand that, if your child is “on the spectrum”, they are going to need as much help with at least trying to understand people well enough to function in society as most people need help with calculus.

GloPro's avatar

@jerv My answer could honestly apply to any 4 year old. I just think a little extra attention to empathy, appropriate emotional and physical connections, and interactions may help in the long run.

jerv's avatar

@GloPro Understood, and agreed. But I would think it easier to teach empathy if you have empathy with the one you are trying to teach. Kind of hard to have empathy with something (or someone) that you cannot understand, isn’t it?

GloPro's avatar

@jerv I have two opposing thoughts on that. If you remember my dad is an Aspie and I agree fully that he didn’t teach me about empathy directly (maybe indirectly through being taught what I was missing).
My other thought is that if you know you are afflicted, and are high functioning (you clearly are), is it not possible to teach empathy based on a “do as I say, not as I do” method? Understanding empathy is not the same as feeling it, so maybe it is possible to recognize your own limits and come up with ways to teach your children beyond them?

jerv's avatar

@GloPro Hard to say. “Do as I say, not as I do” makes me personally tune people out, ignore what they say, and forget what they said… though that is more likely due to my spiteful personality than anything else. Your mileage may vary.

On that note, remember to separate the ASD from the personality. Even a normal kid will be at least somewhat inattentive, a bit hyper… basically, a kid. In that regard, I’m still 4, not 40 :D

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