Coping with Aspergers - Strategies and advice

Children with Asperger's often have difficulty using the phone. They're usually OK with their mobiles and family members, but are reluctant to answer a call from someone they don't know. This is due to various reasons e.g. anxiety of unknown, change in voice over the line may mean they don't understand the speaker properly. To encourage your child to be able to answer the phone and take a message you could write out a short script of possible questions and responses and keep it near the phone.


We know that our Asperger children often have extremely low frustration tolerances, and that they sometimes seem to 'feel' frustration more intensely than others. If this sounds like your Aspie child try to provide an environment at home that lowers frustration. Some ideas include:- the child's room is his safe or chill space, avoiding situations and events that routinely lead to meltdown, pick your battles (don't sweat the small stuff!), be the 'adult' i.e. analyse your behaviour to ensure you're not fuelling frustration and recognise when your child has gone past the point where he can be reasoned with. Remember - calm down, quiet down, slow down.


Your Asperger child is most likely a visual learner, so he/she will often take in something that's written down much better than if it was verbally delivered. Luckily for us the techno age that we live in allows us to better communicate with our Aspie's via text message, emails, Facebook etc. Use these visual supports with your Asperger child whenever you need them to take in what you're telling them!


Individuals with Asperger's either take to using public transport (buses, trains etc) or they don't. But even those with AS who can use public transport often find it too hard to attempt on days when they're less than at their best i.e. if they're tired, or sick. Keep this in mind if buses or trains form part of your Asperger Child's daily routine.... sometimes driving them/picking them up can make a world of difference to the success of their day.


Children with Aspergers Syndrome think and process differently to the rest of us. Different isn't wrong - it's just different. This means that often they'll respond to your questions with an unexpected answer, but if you take the time to think about it you WILL see the connection. When my son had some brain mapping done the results were very interesting. They showed that his neurons were firing off all over his brain for every task, rather than one area lighting up for literacy, another for numeracy and so on. I can only imagine how exhausting that is for my Aspie! So when he tells me "I can't go to school today" I know he's telling me he can't deal with his overloaded brain.


Your Asperger child's special interest topic is a strength - especially the focus required to learn so much about that topic. My Asperger child likes to learn everything he can about a topic (usually over 4 - 8 weeks) and then he becomes interested in something else. I admire the intense focus required to immerse yourself so fiercely in an area of interest. As parents and teachers our job is to harness that intense focus & use it to motivate learning in all other areas. When Aspies are motivated they can achieve anything!


If homework is causing afternoon and evening dramas with your Asperger Child, ask their school to facilitate the completion of homework during class time at school (not lunch times). An Aide guiding/assisting your Aspie's completion of the work would be best! Children with AS see that school is the place for school work, and home is their safe haven where they can chill out and be themselves.


We know handwriting can be a chore for children with Asperger's Syndrome because of their sensory issues... usually we assume that it's a fine-motor problem or cognitive processing delay. We know Aspie kids seem to have "super" senses, so lets look at handwriting from a totally sensory point of view... A pencil makes a sound as it moves across paper; the exterior shape of the pencil may be unpleasant; the smell of the pencil may be overwhelming; the exterior colour of the pencil may be visually disturbing; the pencil may feel too small or large. Get your Sensory Detective eyes on & go for it!


REASONS YOU SHOULD THINK TWICE BEFORE MESSING WITH AN AUTISM/ASPERGERS MUM:

  1. Some of us have given up on social skills and don't care what we say or do.
  2. We're not afraid to have a serious "meltdown" of our own.
  3. We are tired and all the patience we have is for our kids.
  4. We have a far shorter fuse for nonsense as a result of our responsibilities but A FAR thicker skin.
  5. We can get you in a hold/lockdown position in less than 3.5 secs.
  6. We can shoot you a look that would make a linebacker tremble in his boots.
  7. Chances are it's been awhile since we've had a full night of sleep and that will give us a reason to plead insanity.
  8. Our tolerance and patience is for our kids who didn't choose to have special needs, not for someone who CHOOSES to behave inappropriately and is ABLE to control their actions.
  9. We're probably already on edge and it would be stupid to push us over.
  10. We are sleep deprived and already defensive, and we spend all of our patience on our children, doctors, therapists, social workers and teachers, why would we waste an ounce of it on a total stranger?
  11. We've had to fight from the moment of our child's birth so by the time you piss us off we're seasoned battlers and could win a war.
  12. We devote our lives to our children and don't need more stress and people who don't understand our life.
  13. Wherever there is a cub, there is a mama bear...We're always watching

♥♥♥ Stolen from a fellow ASD Mum, feel free to steal it from me!! ♥♥♥


If you're hosting Christmas festivities this year make sure you have a "chill-out zone" for your Asperger child. And if, like me, grandparents, aunts or uncles aren't "Asperger friendly" (or don't believe it's a real condition!) meet them at the front door & tell them you're having an Asperger's Christmas this year as this is what your son/daughter needs. If they can't or won't play by your rules then don't allow them in. Your Aspie son/daughter has a right to enjoy Christmas day without being chastised or scolded. I did this one year (nearly scared myself silly!!) but from that point on no one teased, goaded or picked on our son for just being himself at Christmas time. Courage folks!!!!


Shopping with an Asperger child at Christmas time -not a good idea! Aspies experience "referred mood" which means they pick up all the excitement, stress, anticipation and busy-ness of all the other shoppers. This frightens and overwhelms them. Find a family member, neighbour, school mum, church member or other Aspie mum who can look after your kids while you shop and vice versa.


As Christmas day approaches your Asperger child's behaviour may deteriorate - they don't deal well with anticipation or waiting and they usually pick up on your stress and 'busy-ness' that comes with this time of year. Try building a cubby out of sheets/blankets & a couple of chairs, either in their room or on the pergola - this can become their dark/quiet safe-space. Get creative by recalling what you liked as a kid!


Children with Aspergers are very honest and this can lead them to making provocative statements or comments, which could inflame tempers in others, causing them to lash out and leaving the ASD child bewildered by what he sees as an unprovoked attack. Try to practice what's appropriate and what's not.


Our Asperger child's teachers should be mindful of the fact that all social interaction has a cumulative effect on our AS kids and they should be aware that this will affect the outcome of group activities, seating arrangements and buddy systems. Offering teachers a gentle reminder of this 'nuance' of Aspergers each term can be helpful.


Asperger children dislike having hair brushed, washed or cut. Problems occur because they have very sensitive scalps, so brushing and washing causes pain. Try a wide-toothed comb that doesn't touch the scalp, and gentle massage for hair washing. Hair cut distress can be from feeling each hair being cut (e.g. like blunt scissors feels on our hair) and the change in weight of their hair causes sensory distress. Discuss these issues with your child.


Regularly check for comprehension of language with your ASD child – they may understand the "literal" meaning but not the abstract or implied meaning. Once Asperger children learn to examine language this way, they will often enjoy the humour behind a "play on words".


Visual organisers are fantastic for your Asperger child's:

  • before school routine; 
  • personal hygiene routine; and 
  • home chore routine

promoting organization skills, and enhanced learning.


Hot weather for an Asperger child leads to overload and to meltdowns. Consider installing an air conditioner. Otherwise, be creative with water activities.

If you can't swim in a pool, fill up the bath and use it for regular dips during the day. Sit on wet towels with a fan directed towards you. Wash the car, the dog or the windows (outside). Put the sprinkler on, play with water-bombs, or have games with water pistols. (Your child may not like water spraying on their face, but may be able to tolerate it on the rest of their body).

For me hot days means lots of washing the next day (my son can't tolerate wet clothes on), but I'd rather wash than deal with meltdowns!


Giving your Asperger child a gentle head massage, concentrating on the back of the head and behind the ears, will de-stress and calm them. If they don't like to be touched, appeal to their intelligence – "This will help your brain relax" Try working this in to your daily routine.


Dissolving ½ cup of Epsom Salts in your Asperger child's bath will help them relax, as they absorb the magnesium sulphate.


Modelling appropriate conversation skills isn't enough – be specific. Talk to your Asperger child about cues to join a conversation e.g. body language (head and shoulders inclined towards you, eye contact); a lift in tone that indicates the speaker is finished and waiting for a response; or a drop in tone to indicate the speaker has finished.


2 minute stress buster. To redirect escalating behaviours from your Asperger child, use a right-brain activity e.g. recite the alphabet backwards; count backwards (use a challenging age-appropriate number to start with) or recite a tongue-twister. It works!


For sensory sensitive Asperger children remove tags from clothing; opt for natural fibres; put their socks on inside out; encourage the use of sunglasses; monitor the 'volume' of your child's environment e.g. TV, radio etc; if a young child/infant pulls away from you check your scent i.e. perfume, deodorant, mouthwash or the scent of washing powder in your clothes; offer new foods of a similar texture/ consistency of their favourites.

Nelle Frances 18-Sep-2013 4 Comments
Comments
Kristin Bass commented on 22-Sep-2013 05:07 PM5 out of 5 stars
Thank you so much for all you're advise Nell, was extremely helpful, especially the tips for phone communication. Cheers
Mel fisher commented on 22-Sep-2013 06:13 PM3 out of 5 stars
U r very clever ms frances.
Allison commented on 22-Sep-2013 08:11 PM5 out of 5 stars
My adult ASD children still can't answer the phone they will pick it up and run to me with it but rarely say hello or hold on a minute. The reason behind is that they are unsure of who is on the phone or what they may want. Letting an answering machine answer it is our strategy I will ring and say its me and I am ringing back straight away so answer the phone.
Love your blogs Nelle they always reminnd me how far we actually have come over the last 18 & 21 years and I am sure they give hope to all the new ASD parents out there yet to experience what we have lived. And having this will make it easier for them than it was for us. Well done you!
Deanna commented on 12-Aug-2014 06:59 AM5 out of 5 stars
Thank you for writing this... I was looking for more ways to calm him down and the part about messing with moms made me laugh... he's not mad tonight but he's super hyper... his meds don't seem to be working and he's having problems I'm pretty sure after due some to him going back to school... I needed the laugh...
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