As the parent of two diagnosed Asperger’s Syndrome girls, it has been an incredible learning curve for us. As a disorder on the Autism Spectrum that has as of now been officially removed as a diagnosis it can be a hugely stressful time. However, over the years we are fortunate that we were able to get the diagnosis for this relatively early, and have learned a few things to help us to help our girls best handle some of the challenges that come up for them.
One of the primary things that Asperger’s children have issues with is change. Some Aspies are able to adjust fairly easy; others fall apart into essentially pieces at the smallest changes. This can be something as small as a doctor’s appointment being rescheduled, their favorite shoes wearing out and needing to be replaced, or even something major such as a full household move. Ultimately, this is something that many Asperger’s children are unable to handle well and can trigger many melt downs that have parents in the corners crying by the time it is over. Finding a magic solution to completely wipe out all meltdowns from change will not happen, but working to minimize these meltdowns though can be really helpful.
First suggestion is a calendar; preferably one that you can synchronize across everyone in the house is best. This allows you to create several calendars that can then be shared with everyone necessary. For example, in my household we have a Family calendar, as well as a Personal Shared that my husband and I use, as well as a Private calendar that is only for my eyes to see. This type of setup allows my husband and I to both setup events that can appear quickly on the mobile devices that the children use.
We strive to always make update to this calendar immediately once any changes are known and ensure that it includes everything that the children might need to know, including times when they are going to be going to a family members home, doctor’s appointments, activities, play dates, or anything else that impacts them in any way. By setting this up, we have given the girls the ability to check the schedule anytime they like, and be well aware of what is coming up, so they know what to expect to help minimize much of the anxiety that can arise from change.
If you are unable to avoid sudden changes that can be put on a calendar, then anytime you know a change is coming up, notify your Aspie as quickly as possible. This is absolutely important, and again should be done whether it is a good and exciting change, or a bad one. For example, when we agreed to allow our youngest daughter to get her helix pierced on her ear, we had initially told her a certain day it could be done. However, upon calling the piercing studio to schedule an appointment, that day was not available and it needed to be bumped up. We knew this would thrill her to no end, but still went out of our way to immediately let her know about the change so she had more time to process it.
As you learn more about your child, finding those triggers to change that seems to impact them the most will be important. Working around those triggers and doing your best to minimize them will help not only your child to better adjust, but also help you to better adjust to the challenges that you face as a parent of an Aspie as well.