Because children with AS struggle socially, academically, and even within their own family, they may experience periods of depression or other mental health issues. It is not unusual for a child that has difficulty “fitting in” to experience depression. This is across the board and not exclusive to children with Aspergers. But for children with Aspergers research tends to indicate that they are most vulnerable to this in their adolescent years. This is because in earlier years at school and home the influence of their parents and teachers are large. Whereas in adolescence the need to fit in with peers become more important. This is when the problems of trying to fit in with not enough social skills arise.
Often another factor for many children with Aspergers can sadly be that they are bullied in school. Luke Jackson in his excellent book “Freaks, Geeks and Aspergers” wrote that “when I started school I struggled to understand what was going on, but one thing I did understand was that most of the kids were pretty mean to me”. If you note changes in your child’s activity level, appetite, or just general demeanor, it is time to consider this. You should attempt to discuss with the child what the issues are and try to understand what is happening for them. Professionals may assist you in planning for their well-being or in prescribing medication.
Now I am always very hesitant about medication for anyone; particularly young people. It has its place and can be invaluable but it should not be used as the only approach. Depression generally has a mix of physical, social and emotional factors and so all cannot be solved with a miracle white pill. But medication is worthwhile if it is intended to improve quality of life. Quality of life can be measured in terms of benefit versus risk. If your child experiences severe side effects, which you should educate yourself about prior to, then the risk outweighs the benefit. If your child experiences mild side effects, such as dry mouth or the like, then the benefits probably outweigh the risks.
To properly understand the side effects there are many good sources of information on the internet. Try typing in “antidepressant medication side effects” into Google and have a browse through the web pages. Also make sure that you have a good discussion with the prescribing doctor and ask all about the benefits and risks. The important thing is that you know your child, and you know when they are feeling good and when they are not. Go with your gut instinct when it comes to medication and the side effects. If something seems wrong to you it probably is and you should talk to your doctor. Your child will function best when he or she feels good. This may be attributed to diet, medications, activity level, or just daily routine. Which is another point on treating possible depression in your child. Regular physical activity and good diet can play a big part in helping people to start to feel better. As can something as simple as getting your child to watch their favourite funny cartoons or films to help lift their spirits.
So to summarize this article you need to be aware of changes in your child’ moods, activity levels or appetite. This is particularly the case in adolescence. Such issues may be a symptom of depression and so You need to discuss the problems with your child and take more specialist help if needed. And remember to Consider both medical and non-medical interventions to help with this.