Should I tell a friend that I believe her daughter has Aspergers?
I have a dear friend that is completely closed to being told her daughter is behind developmentaly. A pre school screener informed her that her 4 year old is indeed behind. My friend was very mad and has chosen not to seek help or do anything to help her daughter. I truely believe her daughter has aspergers syndrom. This little girl needs help and i think she has great potential with some work. Do I risk my friendship and bring some information to her mother or do I wait for professionals to recognize this once she starts school? The problem is she willl not start school till August and that leaves months that she could be getting the help she desperately needs. She exhibits many many signs of aspergers and it breaks my hearty that her mother explains it away as her being naughty or that its her age. My son is the same age and i know what is normal for 4. My friend is very frustrated with her daughter and I just want to help this child and her mother.
You are a good friend to be writing your important question to JustAsk. I am sure that deep down your friend has known that her child has been a different than her age peers. Others have told her. She most likely has been making visual comparisons for quite some time. However, she may experiencing what the author and speaker. Ken Moses, had referred to as "the loss of the dream". Many times parents have hopes and aspirations for their child. When their child starts to exhibit anything that exhibits a delay or a suspicion that something is "wrong" it causes a type of grief or a sense of loss with the parent. Many times parents go through denial, anger and other stages of loss before they are able to accept that their child needs help and has learning differences.
The way you can help your friend is to continue to not be judgmental. Offer an opportunity to watch her child while she "recharges her emotional batteries". Set a good example for behavior modification by using positive reinforcement with your own child. Let her see you use interactive activities that she could also use at home, such as working with play doh, blocks, reading, etc.
Once school begins, I am sure that school personnel will be keeping an eye on this child if the preschool teacher has forwarded any materials. If not, chances are she will be screened and observed alongside her peers.
Thanks again for writing. The resource I am citing below is from an article by Ken Moses.
You are right to be concerned about the effect that this conversation could have on your friendship. It sounds as if your friend has had great difficulty hearing anything negative about her daughter. One thing you could consider is talking to her about specific obvious worrisome behaviors. Be empathic and tell her you can imagine how frustrating that would be. Without giving any possible diagnosis, you could encourage her to discuss the behavior with her family doctor or pediatrician. If the behaviors are as obvious as you believe, that person will be in the best position to either make a diagnosis or begin the diagnostic process. Your friend is lucky to have someone who is so concerned about her and her daughter.
Jeanne B. Funk, Ph. D.
Education.com clinical child psychology specialist
This is truly a tough question. I have run into the same situation with a couple of friends. Both had different outcomes. The first thing to consider is how close this friend is to you. Do you have an open line of communication with this friend or is this a more distant relationship? I wouldn't consider making suggestions about a friend's child unless I had permission to do so in the way that I felt like we had an understanding between one another. In addition to that, I would also ask what your qualifications are to make such a diagnosis? Do you have personal experience with this or is this merely something you have read out? Be careful what you suggest here.
The two situations that I ran into were both very close friends and I have a totally open line to say whatever I wanted to both of these friends. I am no specialist, other than being the mother of a child with Aspergers and I suggested getting evaluations to both moms because of similar behaviors in our children. One mom completely denied any abnormal behaviors and has continued to struggle through the years with school issues and social issues; the other went in for evaluation and found out that her son was indeed a high functioning autistic and has had success with alternative schooling methods. She brought him home and schooled him through an online charter school. He has flourished.
The bottom line here is this: you know what you can and cannot say to this person. Only you know the dynamics between the two of you and whether this will hurt or help. Tread slowly and consider your own limitations and what you might be reading into the situation.
You are a good friend to be concerned- just be careful how you approach the situation so that you can continue to be there for this friend.
M.A. of Ed in Teaching and Learning
I am a real estate agent who invited a perfect stranger/client to stay with me for a few months because of a housing issue. (It was the single most best thing I have ever done for myself and my family.) She told me several times that my son who was 5 at the time and my husband were Asperger's. I had never heard of the syndrome before and just ignored her. Turns out she was right. I have family, who knew something was different with my two favorite guys, but they never said anything for fear of, well I don't know what. Since then my client has moved on, but remains a friend. I know she will tell me like it is and I appreciate her for that. I really wish my family would have talked to me instead of to each other about my son. It would have helped him sooner. I was too close to the situation and always in fix it mode to get a handle on the fact that there was an actual name for all the issues I was facing. I was lost, tired and overwhelmed. Every time I speak with my friend I thank her for being the only one willing to point to Asperger's. It took a couple of years of explaining Asperger's to my family before they believed that that is what I am dealing with. I took a lot of parenting advice from family that was bad because it had nothing to do with parenting a child with Asperger's. So in conclusion, if you are a friend who will understand and support without judging, you may be the only person who can help and I believe you should.
I agree with Tammy...I was pleased when someone told me my son had Autism.It meant I knew what I was dealing with. Since then, I have aided children on the spectrum and run workshops on Autism. Recently I approached someone about their 5 year old who is obviously on the spectrum...despite others mentioning it to these parents they get annoyed and cannot see any of the characteristics of aspergers in their son...I guess some people don't want to acknowledge it...eventually though I imagine the school will say something..he is already covering his ears in assemblies and being difficult in the classroom. ;( The other thing I would say is sometimes friendships don't surviving this kind of disclosure...but then you need to ask yourself...what type of friendship can you not share helpful thoughts about a child. ?