APE – the Asperger Parenting Experience

The Life and Times of one Asperger Parent

Asperger’s Syndrome Meets the Holidays

Posted by Patrick on 22 November 2007

What a great time to help work out some of the intracacies of your asperger child’s social eccentricity; or, if you’re like me, what a great time to see them at their worst as to set a barometer for my son.

This Thanksgiving, my family and I have traveled to visit my mom’s half of our family in rural Georgia – such a twilight zone foreign land from the hustle and bustle of Denver where we live. Just this morning I stood on the deck of my mom’s house and watched a 12-point buck root through a pile of corn feed that they put out for them. Anyway, that’s off the subject.

Your asperger child needs routine, and by that token they inherently fear change. Imagine (or recall) the horrors for your AS child when they are in a completely new place, meeting people whom they don’t know and, worse yet, having to play with other kids whose personalities and playstyles they haven’t had a chance to analyze yet. This is us this season, and we are managing just fine. Here’s a little bit of how we prepared.

What most AS parents will learn is that pictures are truly your best friend. We have pictures of all our family members, so we prepped our son for a visit with them by showing him their pictures and talking to him about them; we make sure to tell him their name and how old they are (these are his little quirks) and we try to tell him something about the person in the picture that he can recall when he sees them in person, just so that he won’t be terrified when they reach out to hug him or something. People in rural Georgia hug a lot; it’s just what they do, more than they shake hands.

Another thing that we do is that we try to bring one or two things from home so that he can stay in his element when times are really bad. The key to this technique is that you can’t tell the kid you’re bringing object A, else they’ll of course be asking for it and their ability to reach out is limited because they’re pigeonholing their energy into object A, which they know very well. Only when it’s absolutely the only way to provide consolation or to right the ship is when the child needs to be given access to object A. It may be hard to hide from them if it’s large, so keep it small. This works for us in a pinch and really helps him to calm down and/or get himself in check to continue participating in the family activities.

What we really want to avoid is scolding or excessive discipline – remember that the child doesn’t believe that s/he is doing anything wrong when their behavior starts to do downhill or when their eccentricities begin to show. If you’re going to give them some discipline, your child appreciates it being in a very calm, firm tone of voice and also don’t do it at the top of your lungs. I’ve learned that there’s an inverse proportion between your voice volume and the actual effectiveness it has on the child.

What’s better than having your child experience their extended family and soak up all those interactions with people who care about him?

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One Response to “Asperger’s Syndrome Meets the Holidays”

  1. There are few things in the world that I react to worse than being yelled at. The only thing worse, that I can think of on the spot, is being yelled at for something that I didn’t know was wrong to do; and that’s usually a result of not understanding something.

    My roommate this past semester (grad school) went off on me one night for a bunch of stuff that I didn’t even know had been annoying her. I responded by staring at her like a homicidal maniac for the rest of the night and then I just didn’t talk to her for a month. Or look at her.

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