This article is written to help parents who have had a recent diagnosis of Aspergers Syndrome given to their child. Often with such a diagnosis a grieving process will begin for many parents. This is a grieving process for the “perfect” child and “perfect” life that you were dreaming of. This is a perfectly natural and understandable process. It doesn’t mean that you don’t love your child or think anything negatively about them. It’s just that your child is different to what you expected. Now just look at that word “different”; the dictionary definition is “differing from all others” and so it’s really not so bad. So it’s not really a good thing or a bad thing, just a different thing. A really great way of looking at this is in the short story by Emily Perl Kingsley which you can read at www.aboutautism.org.uk/holland.htm
On more practical terms once you get such a diagnosis you will need to arm yourself with all the knowledge you can find! If you are not fluent in searching the internet, or don’t have access to the internet, then check your local library and practice. The internet has a vast amount of information for you about the diagnosis, helpful tips, support groups and almost anything else you can think of. There is much to learn about any special needs your child may have, and the more you know the better prepared you are to help your child.
Your local school should have information as well, however, AS is a relatively new diagnosis and there is still much to learn about this condition. Develop a plan and be prepared to alter it as you go. Another important thing to do is to get intervention early. That intervention may come in the form of psychologists, occupational therapists (for sensory integration), support groups, and education specialists, to mention a few. Another key role that you need to take on is to become your child’s advocate! No one will care as much as you do about making sure your child has everything and everyone involved in his or her life as you do.
For all children with Aspergers school will be a significant part of their life. This is both in terms of how long they physically spend there each week and also the influence and impact of school. It is essential that you work with your local school. The school have their own priorities and needs that they need to meet. The best thing to do is go into school and meet with them to determine what the best course of action is for your child. This is a huge subject but one of the things to consider is coping strategies if your child displays difficult behaviors. Another area is “trigger” factors that may cause these behaviors (e.g. sensory stimulation, busy classrooms, not understanding a situation). The specific learning needs of your child (for example the tendency of Aspergers children to be unable to understand the subtleties of language and generally need things explained in “black and white”) is another important discussion point. It is important to recognize that the school have other children to serve as well. Even though your child is your priority, they have others to educate and take care of as well. Find out if there are ways that you can assist them in serving your child (for example through giving them Aspergers information, being in regular contact, working on certain issues at home with your child).
To briefly summarise this article; the initial diagnosis of Aspergers for most parents comes as a big shock. There can often be a grieving or “blaming” process that parents need to work through. It is also essential for parents to quickly learn about Aspergers which can be done cheaply and effectively through the internet. A number of professionals can often be helpful to both the child and family. In particular the child’s school has a significant part to play. So it is important as a parent to work on a good relationship with the school.