It is quite common for parents and family members to experience a wide range of emotions including relief, disbelief, fear, anger and grief, upon learning their child has Asperger’s.
This is followed by a period of adjustment and mourning, as the family adjusts to the reality that their child is different and may require a life-long measure of support.
Emotive decisions regarding the appropriate management of the child must be discussed. Decisions may typically include therapies to address the five significant areas of impairment:
- Social interaction;
- Sensory sensitivity;
- Motor functioning; and
- Cognitive processing.
These decisions require enormous family commitment and have the potential to increase family stress, create family conflict and even contribute to family breakdown.
Predictably, the stress associated with caring for an Asperger child or teen can take a long-term toll on the health, well being and interpersonal relationships of parents and family members.
Caregiver burden, overall poorer health, higher rates of chronic health conditions and elevated levels of general medical symptoms are higher than in parents of neuro-typical children.
Parenting a child or teen with Asperger’s Syndrome can be extremely rewarding – however the task is undoubtedly exhausting, and in fact some parents describe fatigue and chronic stress comparable to combat soldiers!
The Role of Parents
A positive parenting style is desirable in all families, but particularly in those families adjusting to, and/or living with the effects of an Autism Spectrum Disorder. Research strongly indicates that parenting style influences patterns of competence and adjustment among children and teens with Asperger’s Syndrome.
Characteristics of a parental style linked with positive outcomes include:
- Listening and encouraging the child to express opinions;
- Encouraging independence;
- Placing limits, consequences and expectations on behaviour;
- Expressing warmth and nurturance;
- Encouraging the child or teen to discuss options;
- Administering fair and consistent discipline.
It might just help to talk to someone who “gets it”.
Do you have an “Aspie” in the family?
As the mum of a teen with Asperger’s Syndrome myself, I am intimately aware of the unique, day-to-day challenges of living in this wonderful, wacky world (including holes punched in walls). I have a lived experience and personal understanding of the far-reaching impact this condition can have on family life. I also know that with a little help and understanding, anything is possible …
If you would like to discuss your experience, or are seeking support for your family, p.ease contact me for an appointment.
Author: Christine Burnett, B Psych (Hons), AMAPS.
Christine Burnett is a registered psychologist who offers therapy from a person-centred, holistic and integrated approach. As a mother of five, including a son with Asperger’s Syndrome, Christine has a personal understanding of the day-to-day challenges of family life and the complexities of living with disability in the family. She is passionate about facilitating positive change within the areas of parental health and wellbeing, adolescent mental health and adjustment and coping within a family context.
To make an appointment with Psychologist Christine Burnett, you can book online 24/7 or freecall 1800 877 924.