Asperger's Challenging behaviors and strangers

Asperger's Challenging behaviors and strangers

Question
How to explain your child’s challenging behaviors to strangers?
Answer
For parents of children with Asperger’s, explaining challenging Asperger’s behaviors to strangers is one of the most difficult tasks.  Most strangers either have very little knowledge of Asperger’s Syndrome or have a false preconception of Autism due to the media.  All they know is your child seems way too intelligent and too old to be doing some of the behaviors they are witnessing.  They may prejudge or worse, show pity.
There are several reasons that make explaining challenging Asperger’s behaviors such a difficult thing.  One, parents feel that their parenting skills are being questioned.  No one wants to feel inferior in pubic and no parent wants others to believe that they lack the skills needed to properly teach and train their child as he grows.  Another reason is the child’s obvious struggle due to immaturity, sensory issues, and social communication weakness.  No parent wants a negative focus on their child.  Finally, the thought of a stranger pitying you as a parent or worse, pitying your child, is very hard to swallow.
The simplest way to explain your child’s challenging Asperger’s behaviors is to ignore the negative reactions of others.  Truthfully, what does it matter what a passing stranger thinks about us as parents or our children’s behaviors?  Unfortunately, human nature dictates that we must give an explanation when someone questions our abilities.  You can call is self-preservation.  With that in mind, here are some ideas you might use.
  • Some families choose to discreetly hand out informational business cards that highlight the characteristics of the child with Asperger’s.  You can design and print cards at home with your computer or you can have them printed at a photo lab or print shop.’
  • Similarly, you can hand the stranger an educational brochure published by support organizations containing facts about the Autism Spectrum.
  • You can choose to speak up and let the stranger know that your child has Asperger’s Syndrome.

While explaining challenging Asperger’s behaviors, try to do so without showing too much emotion.  Remain factual, calm, and pleasant.  Offer as much information as you feel comfortable divulging.  And remember, a stranger’s reaction in no way shapes you are as a parent or who your child is as an individual with Asperger’s Syndrome.
Thanks
Dave Angel

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