You can best serve your child by learning about Asperger's syndrome and providing a supportive and loving home environment. Remember that your child, just like every other child, has his or her own strengths and weaknesses and needs as much support, patience, and understanding as you can give.
Educating yourself about the condition and about what to expect is an important part of helping your child develop independence and succeed outside of his or her home. Learn about Asperger's syndrome by talking to your doctor or contacting Asperger's organizations. A good source is OASIS @ MAAP: The Online Asperger Syndrome Information and Support Center at www.aspergersyndrome.org. Learning about Asperger's will reduce your and your family members' stress and help your child succeed.
There is so much to learn and carefully consider during the first years of having an exceptional child. The amount of information to digest and decisions to be made are often overwhelming. What parents need is a map that helps them put it all together. Having a big picture or general framework to help organize the sea of information that comes flooding in can provide a small compass in a trying and confusing time.
The following are some suggestions on how to help your child who has Asperger's syndrome. Some of the ideas will be helpful, and some may not work for you. Flexibility, creativity, and a willingness to continue to learn will all help you as you raise your child.
General strategies for success
Children with Asperger's syndrome benefit from daily routines for meals, homework, and bedtime. They also like specific rules, and consistent expectations mean less stress and confusion for them.
Many people with Asperger's syndrome do best with verbal (rather than nonverbal) teaching and assignments. A direct, concise, and straightforward manner is also helpful.
People with Asperger's syndrome often have trouble understanding the "big picture" and tend to see part of a situation rather than the whole. That's why they often benefit from a parts-to-whole teaching approach, starting with part of a concept and adding to it to demonstrate encompassing ideas.
Visual supports, including schedules and other written materials that serve as organizational aids, can be helpful.
Be aware that background noises, such as a clock ticking or the hum of fluorescent lighting, may be distracting to your child.
Children with autism spectrum disorders (which include Asperger's syndrome) may be especially interested in video games, computers, or other screen-based media such as TV. If possible, keep televisions, video games, and computers out of your child's bedroom. When children with autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) have these devices in their bedroom, they are more likely to sleep fewer hours. This is especially true when video games are in the bedroom. If your child doesn't get enough sleep, his or her ASD symptoms may be worse.
Children with Asperger's syndrome often mature more slowly. Don't always expect them to "act their age."
Try to identify stress triggers and avoid them if possible. Prepare your child in advance for difficult situations, and teach him or her ways to cope. For example, teach your child coping skills for dealing with change or new situations.