What parents want you to know about kids with Asperger’s
Many kids with a high-functioning form of autism called Asperger’s syndrome are mainstreamed in regular classrooms at school. Learn what parents of kids with Asperger’s want you to know about the kids your child may interact with and befriend in the classroom.
Between the news and popular television programs like Parenthood, Asperger’s syndrome is a common topic. Learn what parents want you to know about this specific type of autism and what you can teach your child.
Aspies have impaired social skills
Kids with Asperger’s syndrome don’t always relate to their peers the way other kids do. A child with Asperger’s, often fondly referred to as an Aspie, focuses on a narrow set of behaviors and interests. Oftentimes a child with Asperger’s struggles to carry on meaningful conversations about topics outside of those interests. This can come across as a lack of empathy and a lack of interest in others. Let your child know that her classmate with Asperger’s syndrome isn’t being rude or mean on purpose.
Aspies are just like other kids
While a child with Asperger’s syndrome isn’t exactly the same as a neurotypical child, she’s still just a kid. She has hopes and dreams and a sense of humor and a genuine desire to make friends. She loves her family and her toys and may not have any concept of her neurological differences. While children with Asperger’s may be socially awkward, with atypical speech patterns and high intelligence, they’re just as eager as other kids to fit in. Let your child know that it’s OK to be confused or frustrated by his classmate, but that he should never bully, tease or call attention to different behaviors.
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It’s OK to ask questions
If your child goes to school with a classmate who has Asperger’s syndrome, don’t hesitate to ask questions. It’s best to approach the other parent instead of the teacher, who isn’t allowed to share private information about another student. Find out how you can encourage a friendship between your children. Ask what you can do to make the other child more comfortable in your home or on a play date. Find out what your child’s friend is interested in and see if those interests coincide with your child’s. Sometimes common interests can be the best jumping off point for a friendship.
Parents want you to be aware of misconceptions
In the aftermath of the tragedy at Sandy Hook School, parents of children with autism and Asperger’s syndrome were dismayed to see Asperger’s being mentioned in relation to the perpetrator. MyAutismTeam.com surveyed over 2,000 members and found that parents were concerned with misconceptions and a greater potential for bullying and judgment toward children with autism. Seventy-nine percent of responders indicated that it’s important for others to know that autism is not a mental illness but a neuro-developmental disorder. Parents also wanted others to know that autism is not linked to violence, and that children with autism are more likely to be victims of violent behavior.