Explaining A.S. to others

Your child has just been diagnosed with Asperger’s, and you’d like to know what to tell friends, neighbours, teachers, and extended family to help them understand his/her behaviour.

Here’s a suggestion by Dave Angel from The Parenting Aspergers Blog

Asperger’s Syndrome was first noticed in 1944, and it was first seen in children that had been diagnosed with autistic personality disorder. A researcher by the name of Hans Asperger worked with children and saw that they exhibited delays in social maturity, social reasoning, and social abilities. He found verbal- and non-verbal impairments in communication, especially when the children attempted to converse. Asperger also observed that the children had difficulties controlling emotions, but they could intellectualize their feelings.

Further research by Asperger found that the children became preoccupied with various interests and these would dominate their thought processes. Asperger also found that some of the children were having learning problems, difficulty with coordination, and that they exhibited a marked sensitivity to certain smells, sounds, and textures.

You can start sharing information by giving friends and relatives an introduction to Asperger’s Syndrome using the above paragraphs. This will provide them with some history and context. Sharing information on any illness or diagnosis requires tact and discretion. You might want to tell the people in your life on a “need-to-know” basis.

It is very important to stress that a diagnosis of Asperger’s Syndrome does not make your child “weird” or inferior. Make sure you stress the positive elements that can be found in people with Asperger’s Syndrome. There are actors, authors, researchers, and scientists who have been diagnosed with Asperger’s, and they have achieved seemingly insurmountable life goals. When your friends and relatives are aware of these facts, it will help dispel the mystery and confusion that surrounds Asperger’s. See also Strengths & Advantages of being an Aspie!

When you discuss Asperger’s Syndrome with children, you can use classroom materials that have been developed to assist children in understanding this diagnosis. Go on the internet to a company called AAPC and you will find several books about Asperger’s. Also, look for a local group that helps people and their relatives cope with Asperger’s Syndrome.

One highly recommended book is Asperger’s Syndrome: A Guide for Parents and Professionals by Tony Attwood. Mr. Attwood is a leading expert on Asperger’s Syndrome, and his book provides a wealth of information that you can use as discussion topics.

After you have shared some of the above information, ask the person/people you are talking with if they have any questions or concerns about anything that you have discussed. Let them know that any question or concern they may have is valid, and you are not going to be offended by their inquiries. Not only will this ease communications, it will prove you to be a mature, open-minded individual who loves your child and cares about friends and family.

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