Named after Hans Asperger, the Austrian pediatrician who first called the world’s attention to a certain disability of children in 1944 on their lack of nonverbal communication skills and inability to get along with their peers, Asperger syndrome is a kind of autism typically prevalent among preteens and teens. If your child demonstrates an attitude of being a loner, is often self conscious, clumsy and refuses to socialize with other youngsters his age, he might have this disorder. The eccentric behavior of a teen with Asperger syndrome can make the parent feel frustrated at times as any parent naturally wants his child to develop socialization skills.
You can help a teen with Asperger with these suggestions:
- Understand that Asperger syndrome is a disorder that occurs to a child who is going through the growth process in the physical, emotional and psychological aspects. Teenagers are mostly the ones who are inflicted with this disorder as they grapple to learn social skills.
- Realize that a person who has Asperger’s is not mentally handicapped. On the contrary, they are mostly intellectually endowed, only that they encounter hardships in understanding the concept of social relationships. They do not have many friends and are often looked upon as anti-social as they refuse to mingle with classmates and friends.
- Be open minded to the fact that a teen with Asperger’s may not have many friends but he can get along with a few. Somehow being with numerous friends overwhelms a teen with Asperger syndrome because he lacks the ability to associate with different personalities.
- Monitor the child’s performance in school. Find out his inclinations and encourage him to participate in activities that interest him. If he is good in math, make him join Math Club. If he is good at playing chess, enlist him with the Chess Club. He may refuse at first but what is important is you push him, though not necessarily force him. If it does not work, or if he is not ready to get into such associations, leave him alone in the meantime and wait for a better chance.
- Converse with him when he gets home from school. While he relaxes, serve him snack and ask him about his lessons, teachers and classmates. Test him if he knows the names of his classmates. If he fails to mention their names, explain to him that he should know them because that is how it is in school – classmates should know each other.
- Talk to his teachers about his condition. Ask them to include him in various classroom activities and to pair him off with buddies in doing class projects.
- Know his classmates. Go out of your way and find out who his classmates are. Try to spark his interest by telling amusing anecdotes about his classmates. Do this on regular basis until such time that the child’s curiosity is elicited.
Asperger syndrome in a teen is not as bad as it seems. It has cure and remedy. The child can improve and develop his social skills in time. You just have to be patient and gentle with him. However if you think the child’s condition requires professional help, go and seek the counsel of a child psychologist.