You read a book. Or listen to a doctor or therapist and think "That's a great idea!"... but when it is time to finally IMPLEMENT that advice, you easily forget to actually use your new found wisdom.
Sound familiar? It's something I've done time and time again. So as a reminder, here are the top 9 things to remember when raising someone with Asperger's. You might want to print this one out and hang it somewhere to remind you. If you'd like more reminders, inspiration, and hope, you can join our email list here.
#9 - It's Not Personal
This is an essential mindset to always have. Kids WANT to do their best (adults do too). Nobody wakes up in the morning and goes "I'd sure like to have a horrible day! How can I make that happen?"
So when someone attacks you (verbally or physically), or does something that seems to be in spite, always remember. They are hurting inside. They aren't doing it because they want to be mean to you, they are doing it because they are suffering.
As someone from our AE+ support group says:
#8 - "Bad" behavior is a cry for help
ALL behavior is some form of communication. It's how we show what is going on inside our mind & body. We show that we love someone through a certain set of behaviors such as hugging, kissing, etc.
Kids also show how they are doing emotionally through behaviors. When a "bad" behavior happens, it is a cry for help. They aren't feeling like they are being heard enough. They feel scared. They are frustrated and don't know how to continue. Etc.
Your job is to look BEHIND the behavior, and notice what is really going on. Train yourself to see beyond the behavior and look at what might have caused it.
As one of our AE+ members says:
#7 - Getting them out of Defense Mode makes EVERYTHING else easier
I liken Defense Mode to going everywhere with a bag of bricks and a blindfold. You can technically still do everything in life, it will just be a lot harder.
Once you get someone with Asperger's out of Defense Mode, it makes everything else they do & learn a lot easier. And it makes your job easier as well, because they are finally receptive and not so avoidant.
Here's some examples of what actually happens once you are out of Defense Mode (If you'd like more help with Defense Mode, get our Deep Into Defense Mode course here):
#6 - Don’t focus solely on teaching social skills (sensory stuff is more important)
This goes with #3. If you solely focus on teaching executive functioning and social skills, then you miss the most effective part of helping someone with Asperger's.
Holding space for someone with Asperger's to be with their emotions, and deal with sensations will not only set them up for an amazing life, but will help them to switch from "Protect" to "Connect" so they are able to learn social skills on their own.
This video succinctly explains this concept using the "Sensory Funnel":
#5 - Diagnosis doesn’t matter as much as solutions and actual help
That's not to say that getting diagnosed doesn't help. It absolutely does. It opens up tons of doors for government and school services, and allows you to finally name the issues. But then what?
If you had to choose between focusing all of your effort on pursuing a diagnosis, or working with your child to build love & trust, always choose the latter. Don't get caught in the trap of trying to find the "right" diagnosis before you shift your attention to actually helping your child. Do both.
#4 - Choose your battles
You can't fix it all. And you certainly can't fix it all at the same time. So by sheer necessity, you'll need to pick your battles, or you will get extremely exhausted and overwhelmed.
One of our AE+ members suggests using the "3 buckets" method:
#3 - Put on your own oxygen mask first
"Please put on your own oxygen mask before assisting others." Why? Because you'll suffocate if you don't. In other words, if you don't take care of yourself, you can't take care of others (including your kids).
Here are some simple things to do that you can immediate add to your daily routine of self care (or, if you don't have a daily self care routine, here's how to start)
#2 - Parents need to do just as much work as the kids
It's not all about the kids needing to change. There is lots of research to show that the way parents behave influences the way children behave. In other words: If the kid has issues, the parent needs to do work just as much as the kid does.
What can you, as the parent do to better yourself so that you better your kid?
#1 - It's never too late. There is always hope.
Here at Asperger Experts, we believe in the transformative power of neuroplasticity. Simply put, neuroplasticity is the brains ability to change and adapt. Previously this was thought to end at the age of 5, but there's new science that shows that the brain can actually adapt and change all throughout life.
To you, this means that someone with Asperger's can ALWAYS learn new skills, habits, beliefs and ways of being. That never goes away.
Want more? Join us as a member of AE+ and get access to a 24/7 online parent support network, weekly helpline calls with AE staff, a private Minecraft server and more.