Raising a child with Asperger's syndrome typically means forgetting about all of the things that you thought you knew about parenting and taking a whole new approach. Unfortunately, many parents find themselves unprepared for this venture. The good news is, if your child has been diagnosed with Asperger's syndrome, you don't have to face it alone. There are many resources out there to help parents understand the condition and how to successfully interact with and guide their children who have been diagnosed with it. Here's a look at some of the things you should keep in mind to help your child develop necessary social skills.
Basic Social Integration – Kids with Asperger's often struggle with these types of tasks and either approach children and say nothing because they don't know quite what to say, or approach and just start talking with no consideration for the interaction that's already going on. As a result, one of the first things you'll want to teach your child is how to integrate into social activities. You'll want to do some role playing to show him or her how to enter a conversation, such as with statements like "Can I play, too?" or "Could you help me?"
Learn Through Observation – Explaining social interactions, body language and expressions to kids with Asperger's requires that you take a deliberate approach, because they can have a hard time visualizing these things and connecting what they've learned to real-life interactions. The best way to help your child understand these things is through observation. Encourage him or her to sit back and watch how other children are interacting with each other. By watching other kids and trying to emulate the things that they're doing, you can close the gap on their social understanding and help them respond to things appropriately.
Try Social Stories – You may not hear of social stories before having a child with Asperger's syndrome, but these short stories are a powerful teaching tool. Social stories represent everyday situations, explaining social cues and the proper responses for those cues in situations that your child can understand. For example, you can teach your child that when he or she goes into the classroom for the first day of school, it's important to look the teacher in the eye, smile and say good morning. These are interactions that don't come naturally to kids on the spectrum, so it's important to teach them these skills directly.
Stress Eye Contact – Eye contact is one of a few things that kids with Asperger's syndrome avoid extensively. It's a skill that they need to learn, though, for proper social interaction. The best way to reinforce making eye contact is to practice it at home. Hold conversations with your child in brief increments, encouraging him or her to look you in the eyes. The more it's practiced, the more natural this skill becomes.
Reinforce the Positive – Watch your child's normal interactions and identify any situation where he or she uses proper social skills. Make a point to reinforce that behavior with a positive comment, such as "That was a very nice thing for you to say."
Be a Role Model – Model conversations for your child in which you discuss your feelings and personal thoughts. Perhaps address a specific situation that your child observed and explain how you felt and what you thought of that situation. Consider adding details that help your child to connect your feelings to what actually happened, such as saying, "When he said that to me, it made me very sad."
Decode Figures of Speech – Since children with Asperger's syndrome take most things literally, they can often be confused by figures of speech. Take time to explain the meaning behind slang words and figures of speech for your child so that he or she understands their meaning if they're used in conversation.
Parenting a child with Asperger's syndrome requires more intensive one-on-one training and reinforcement of fundamental skills. You may find that scheduling counseling sessions with a parenting specialist can help you communicate with your child more effectively. You can click here to learn more about this topic.Share