Aspergers in Kids

by Stephanie Nimmo
Reviewed by Dr Sheri Jacobson

Writer Stephanie Nimmo's son was diagnosed as on the autism spectrum when he was thirteen, making sense of years of struggle and confusion. She shares her top tips for dealing with Aspergers in children.

1. Look after yourself!

This is extreme parenting at its best. You are constantly having to be one step ahead to troubleshoot what is going to happen.

Make sure you make time for yourself, so that you get a break from always being on high alert and can actually have the energy to deal with things head on.

2. Find a support group.

Talking to friends who do their best to empathise is great. But it's nothing like talking to other parents who are going through the same. Find a support group, either online or locally. It’s such a relief to know you are not alone.

3. Use technology and charts to help your child navigate the world.

This can look like alarms on your kid's phone to remind him to eat, or a check list for a shower routine.

4. Drop any and all comparison.

Ty not to compare your child against other children, particularly at school. Our system is just not set up for children who are wired differently. Be there to support them and accept that you may have to move schools or take a different route for them to get to where they want to go.

5. Channel the obsessions into activity.

In my case, my son Ted loved technology. It’s no surprise that he now works in IT.

6. Be on alert for mental health issues.

Young people with high functioning autism are more likely to have mental health issues like anxiety, depression, and low self-esteem.

Educate yourself about different mental health symptoms and be on high alert. Of course monitoring your child's behaviours and social circles shouldn't veer into overparenting. Give your child the space to be as independent as possible.

7. Find unique ways to navigate stress.

I found that my son was very uncomfortable having face-to-face conversations (he has huge issues with making eye contact). But he would open up if he was sat next to me on a car journey. So when he was stressed and anxious I would take him out for a drive for an hour or so, and we would talk.

8. Make adjustments at home to minimise stress for everyone.

Ted needs to wear headphones to concentrate. I don’t insist he removes these at the dinner table, as I have learned that this is his way of coping with the noise and smells of a family meal.

We also bought him a “wobble cushion” for his chair in school, as he was rocking it back and forth in a typical ASD behaviour called “stimming”.

An occupational therapist can also prescribe a “sensory diet” of adjustments that can help a young person with ASD cope with the sensory overloads of day-to-day life.

9. Get counselling.

The wonderful thing about counselling is that you can say anything without fear of judgement. And that can be such a tremendous relief, to just drop the fighting spirit now and then, and have that window of time to not be a parent but just be you.

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