Anxiety and your Asperger's child / young adult
If you have a child or young adult diagnosed with Asperger's Syndrome, you have already read a lot of the literature and information about this diagnosis. You know that this is not the fault of any parent, but a neurobiological disorder affecting several areas of one's development. You may also know that this diagnosis is 4-6 times more frequently occurring in males than females. It affects about 1 in 200 people. It is basically about how a person makes sense of the world.
Your child is much more than the diagnosis. He is also clever, warm, honest, helpful, right, and can think outside the box. He is usually highly intelligent and passionate about a specific hobby or interest. He has impressive, attention to detail skills, a dedicated work ethic and excellent verbal skills.
However, there are also challenges this child or adult faces that can discourage the Aspi individual and worries most parents. Some of these challenges may include:
- Understanding and processing language
- Problem solving or making predictions
- Participating in social conversation e.g. small talk
- Ability to empathize with others
- Feeling socially isolated
- Lacking organizational skills
- Sensitivity to auditory, tactile stimuli
- Tendency to procrastinate
- Short attention spans
- Lack of motivation
At a mental health level, many of these Aspi children may also suffer with anxiety, depression, obsessive and sometimes even paranoid thoughts. Some of these issues comes with the syndrome, and some come from the hurt and rejection these children often experience in life. Many Aspi children and young adults have sad stories of being bullied in school, being ostracized from their social group and feeling ignored and inadequate. This, alone, is enough to create anxiety, low self-esteem and contribute to depressive feelings. Add to that the fact that they are told by "friends" that they don't "fit in" or "get it" and this can lead to feeling inadequate, stressed or rejected. One can understand how anxiety and depression can easily develop as a result of these experiences.
The good news is that there is help for these children and young adults. Social skills can be taught. Negative thoughts can be distracted and even re-directed. Cognitive therapy has been found to be very effective in addressing, challenging and changing negative self-talk. Coping tools, breathing exercises, can also help immensely in reducing anxiety and sometimes stopping panic attacks completely. Social skills can help your child or young adult learn how to pick up nonverbal cues, how to socialize and feel more confidant in a group setting.
No, there is no quick fix, but changes and improvements are accessible. Your child is normal, just different, and unfortunately, in this world which does not embrace uniqueness and specialness, he needs help to know he is welcomed and loved and this is a place where he belongs.
Your Aspi child has the same potential for greatness and success as any one else. When he is able to focus on his strengths and feel validated and supported, his self-confidance and self-esteem will improve and he, too, will know and own his unlimited potential.
Here is a list of famous people with Asperger's Syndrome - a very prestigious list to be associated with: Jim Henson, Sir Isaac Newton, Bill Gates, Albert Einstein, Charles Darwin, Satoshi Tajiri (founder of Pokemon), Charles Shultz - Peanuts, Thomas Jefferson, Michelangelo, Mozart, Dan Akroyd, Beethoven, Thomas Edison ... and more
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