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Understanding Asperger Syndrome (page 2)

Understanding Asperger Syndrome

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Updated on May 14, 2014

Carley says his son will benefit from living in a world that knows more about this neurological condition. “The upshot to knowing more and more is really just that you're weirdness has an explanation. You know you're just wired differently; you're not rude. You process thought differently, instead of being an insensitive creep,” he says. “It's a much better way of thinking about yourself.”

This self-awareness is critical, according to Carley, because being able to educate others about your condition is an imperative life skill for people on the spectrum. “You want to be creating in kids the best self-advocates they possibly can be because we hope that they're going to leave home, and they need to be the ones to explain why they come across as different to that potential landlord, significant other, or employer,” Carley says.

What else can parents of children on the spectrum do to handle stress, embrace their child fully and help to raise an independent adult? Carley, who has worked with thousands of families as Executive Director of GRASP (The Global and Regional Asperger Syndrome Partnership), offers this advice:

  1. Read up on the history of Autism Spectrum Disorders to find out how the iconography has developed over the years. Carley says depending on the challenges of their particular child, parents will feel some sense of pressure to change that child—maybe due to an outburst in the supermarket or an awkward conversation with the neighbors. “We can all forgive ourselves when we want to secede to societal pressure. What's important is loving your child for who she is. That can't begin until we look at how iconography has affected us,” Carley says.
  2. Make sure you're taken care of. Carley says there's a good reason that airlines instruct passengers to put the oxygen mask on themselves first, before assisting their children. “If you can't be there in a healthy, operating way, you're not much good to your child,” he says.
  3. One of the biggest challenges for individuals with Asperger's, Carley says, is an ability to shrug off life's failures. But, parents can help their children process failure better. “Praise, and praise, and praise for trying,” Carley says. “Very often parents say 'This is a special child, and I want to shield him from failure.' It's a good thought, but it's not the final resting ground. The final resting ground is independence and bravery.”
  4. Finally, Carley says joining a support group can be a great way for families to relieve stress. “When someone tells you 'I understand. I've been there.' Nothing feels better at that moment,” he says. GRASP, the world's largest support organization for Asperger's, has a list of families and clinicians on their website. Check it out at www.grasp.org.
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