‘Asperger Syndrome & Your Child’ an informative guide for parents

Today, there are a wide variety of books and other materials about Asperger Syndrome.  When my daughter was diagnosed six years ago, it didn’t seem like I could find anything; however, one of the books I came across was “Asperger Syndrome & Your Child” by Michael D. Powers with Janet Poland.  This encouraging book offered a caring, compassionate look at parenting a child with Asperger Syndrome.

Powers’ book covers the early years through adulthood and answers your questions about babysitters and school to driving and becoming a productive member of society.  He offers well thought-out solutions to the common everyday dilemmas parents often face.  Something I found very helpful is the “message to my child’s teacher.”  This is an invaluable tool to use when discussing your child’s needs with his or her teachers. 

The end of the book includes a question-and-answer section as well as a mega-resource guide for national organizations and a listing for each state.  It is very comprehensive without being overwhelming.  If you want to unlock your child’s potential and help them become the person you know they can be, you will want to buy this book.

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Review of ‘Homeschooling the Child with Asperger Syndrome’

Are you considering homeschooling a child with Asperger Syndrome?  Are you having trouble finding just the right resources?  Lise Pyles has written “Homeschooling the Child with Asperger Syndrome:  Real Help for Parents Anywhere and On Any Budget.”  This small book is filled with answers to most, if not all, of your questions as well as things you may not have considered. 

Filled with ideas, curriculum, learning styles, teaching aides and much more targeted for children with Asperger Syndrome, Lise’s book will guide you into unfamiliar territory.  Lise teaches you with step-by-step instructions and helps you work with your child’s interests and rituals.  Each chapter covers an important facet of your child’s education.  

The appendices alone are worth buying the book as it contains resources for homeschooling, Asperger Syndrome, and education.  Chapter 9 covers topics such as burnout, socialization, motivation and siblings.  Even if you decide not to homeschool, this book will be a valuable resource throughout your child’s school years as a supplement to what the school system either cannot or will not teach.

 Just two years ago when I was making the decision to homeschool, this book was all I could find on the subject; however, now as I search Amazon.com there are many, many books to choose from.  I truly believe this book will be the only book you will need to make an informed decision.

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Parenting outside the box

Everyone gives birth to a perfect child—even a child born on the Autism Spectrum.  I am the parent of a child with Asperger’s Syndrome.  As a result, I parent outside the box of normal.  I anticipate rather than react (or at least I try).  Rather than being spontaneous, I plan and prepare.  I struggle with organization, but with an Aspie, it is almost impossible to live outside of being organized. 

Even though she did not receive a diagnosis until she was 12, I knew that she was “different”, but I had no idea these differences were anything more than a unique personality trait.  I still believe Asperger’s is what makes her stand out from everyone else and is a big part of who she is.

She sees the world differently than typical children but seeing the world through her eyes has made it come alive again.  She struggles with change and loves structure.  She likes doing the same thing every day and knowing what to expect ahead of time.  She is obsessed with music and drama—from watching and listening to it to singing and acting.  She struggles with school and relationships but nothing is as difficult as just living in a world so different from the one she thinks she lives in.

Not once have I ever sought a cure or prayed for a change.  At times I would like to modify her reactions to negative events. I want to teach her how to deal with the confusing life that’s going on around her. There are especially times when I would like to lecture the people that tease her and do things to make her over-react, but that would only make matters worse. 

As a parent living outside the box, I’ve learned not to make excuses for her behavior or apologize for it.  The stares I get from other people no longer phase me.  I don’t care that they think my child is a spoiled, obnoxious brat or that I’m a lousy parent. 

If you are a parent living outside the box, forget about what others think about your children and your parenting skills.  Love your children the way they are and create an atmosphere that allows them to be who they are, not what the world says they should be.  Forget about the world’s definition of perfection and create your own.  Perfection, after all, is a process which we strive for but never attain completely.  We are parents of unique children who deserve to be treated fairly, with respect and compassion.  Typical children are not better, just different.  Once the world realizes the contributions our children can and will make to society, they will envy the gift we were given at the birth of our special children.

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William Stillman’s “Everything Parent’s Guide” for help, hope and guidance

After many years of doctors and tests and useless theories and vague diagnoses, a therapist finally, after 15 minutes of just plain talk, knew it was Asperger’s Syndrome and suggested I start looking on the Internet for information about it. One of the first books I picked up was William Stillman’s “The Everything Parent’s Guide to Children with Asperger’s Syndrome.” This is a great book for learning what Asperger’s Syndrome is and how to deal with the diagnosis and situations with your child as you go about the journey that will seemingly never end.

Before the diagnosis, my daughter was highly emotional, consistently disrespectful and amazingly unaware of how her behavior affected others as well as herself. She had no clue she was disruptive, rude and frustrating to just about everyone around her. I’d wish I could say this book provided something to control her need to spontaneously explode at a moment’s notice (and sometimes not that long), but unfortunately, it doesn’t. This book did helped me glean some much needed information as well as present tips on how to deal with behavior and discipline, and I would still recommend it.

Covering everything from diagnosis to transitioning from high school to higher education or employment, Stillman’s book offers tangible ways to handle just about every situation you may encounter. He has an extensive list of resources in the back of the book which will guide you further in your quest for answers. You may not receive all the help you need, but at least it will be a start in the right direction. Remember, no book is going to give you everything you need because your child will present unique situations no author can anticipate. If you have any concerns or questions, please contact your child’s therapist or pediatrician.

Click here to order from Amazon.com.  For more information about William Stillman, click here to visit his website.

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Ease the transition of back to school with these tips

For most parents, the anticipation of back to school begins when the summer dismissal bell rings at the end of the year.  For parents of children with special needs, summertime is the time to regroup and just the thought of the next school year brings anxiety and stress to what should be a less stressful time of year. 

 I love the summer because I get to concentrate on other things.  I hate summer because it seems to get shorter every year and I dread the beginning of school.  The Autism Society of Alabama (ASA) blog has some tips to help with the transition from the end of the last year of school and the relaxed summer to the beginning of the next year with its many changes and challenges.  First, let the ASA help you prepare and execute your child’s IEP.  Let them show you how to ease your child back into the structure of a classroom and getting to know their new teachers and classmates.  They can also communicate your child’s rights in the school system and help you communicate with educators and others who will be in contact with your child.

 It’s time to make back-to-school resolutions for your child.  Be proactive instead of reactive.  Attend parent/teacher meetings and PTA meetings.  Meet the teachers, principals and other faculty and staff that will be in contact with your child.  Take the time to really get to know the Special Needs coordinators/teachers.  Prepare a goody package for them at the beginning of the year.  Make them feel special and you will start the year off on a good note.  We get so focused on our own children that we tend to forget that they are responsible for many more. 

Stand up for your child.   It is important for you, as a parent, to know what your rights are and that it is not carried too far or not far enough.  At the same time, give the school system the benefit of the doubt.  Take into account the many challenges faced by the school systems today particularly in light of the economy.  This is no excuse for them to slack off, but at the same time, parents should not make unreasonable demands.  Find out what you can do to help or how you can make their work easier.  The more involved you are in your child’s education, the more attention the teachers will give to your child. 

Take time to listen to teachers, the staff and your child.  Read the paperwork they send home.  Make a point to let them know you are paying attention to the small details as well as the bigger ones.  Take control of an issue before it gets out of hand.  If you are concerned about something, let the school system know.  Chances are the issue can be resolved early on without any negative consequences.  

Most importantly, don’t give up.  Hang in there.  Nothing worthwhile is ever easy.  Your hard work, diligence and patience will someday pay off. 

The Autism Society of Alabama works to improve services for persons with Autism Spectrum Disorders and their families through education and advocacy by providing state level advocacy and representation, information and referral services, support groups, conferences and seminars, family camps and awareness.  It is located at 4217 Dolly Ridge Road in Birmingham and can be reached at 877-428-8476. Visit the ASA website to find the most current news and events.  Click here to become a member of the Autism Society of Alabama.

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My daughter has a boyfriend. Another new adventure…

As I look back over my daughter’s 18 years, I realize that there has never been a time I have had to console her over the loss of a friend, nor have I known her to ever cry over the meanness or hatefulness of another.  Instead, I have seen her angry over a friend’s actions whether it was intentional or unintentional.  She has had many friends over her lifetime.  Some have moved away and others have drifted away, but she has always been able to make new friends. 

Now, she has embarked on a different kind of relationship.  For the first time, she has met a special guy who she calls her boyfriend instead of the boy that’s a friend.  I have been praying for someone special to come into her life who would look beyond her quirks that make her different and see them as a part of who she is.  I want him to realize that those quirks make her stand out in a crowd and know that she will always surprise him with her observations and, quite possibly, her behavior.

Most of all, I want to protect her from the hurt of a relationship that may end prematurely (according to her) or the pain that may result from ending the relationship if it is not the one for her.  I don’t want either of them to give up too soon or hold on too long.  I want her to be happy but also to realize that good relationships are often hard work, and you only get out of a relationship what you put into it.  

Right now, they are in the glory stage where everything is peaches and cream.  But there will come a day when she will get mad and throw one of her Aspie fits.  I am concerned about how he will react to it and how he will handle it.  I hope he will see, as her family does, that it passes.  

I hope my daughter finds happiness in marriage one day to someone who loves her for who she is and is willing to put forth the effort to truly understand and love the part of her that is often unlovable.  I don’t know how long this guy will be a part of her life, but I know that he will be a better person for having known her.

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Review of “aquamarine blue 5: Personal Stories of College Students with Autism”

Consider what would happen if you were in unfamiliar surroundings among strangers who understood more about the world they lived in than you do.  Think about living your entire life in a world that does not understand you.  Such is the case of people diagnosed with Asperger Syndrome, a high-functioning form of autism.  Imagine living your entire life knowing everyone else was different and not knowing what was wrong with you.  Many people with Aspergers live most of their lives undiagnosed or misdiagnosed. 

The first of its kind, “aquamarine blue” is a collection of writings from college students who have high-functioning autism.  They write about their experiences, their challenges and how they’ve learned to adapt to the world around them.  They relate anecdotes from their lives explaining what makes them act the way they do.  

Often seen as eccentric or peculiar, people with Asperger Syndrome live in a world of their own with limited social skills which limits the way they live their lives.  “aquamarine blue” is a must-read for teachers of all grades as well as administrators. In fact, it should be required reading for anyone who may come in contact with people with Asperger Syndrome, in particular teachers, law enforcement, pediatricians, and caregivers.  This book sheds light on so many aspects of their lives and gives neuro-typicals (NTs) an inside look at what they go through on a daily basis and how NTs contribute to some of the issues they face.  

The book was edited by Dawn Prince-Hughes, an adjunct professor of anthropology at Western Washington University.  Diagnosed with Asperger Syndrome at age 36, Prince-Hughes learned about human behavior from her observation of gorillas.  She has written several books, including “Songs of a Gorilla Nation: My Journey Through Autism.”

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