In a multitude of ways, the environment affects children with Asperger’s and is a major factor that influences the severity of comorbid psychiatric disorders (e.g., anxiety, depression, OCD, bipolar disorder, ADHD, Tourette Syndrome, personality disorders, ODD, etc.).
You just discovered that your child has Asperger’s. Welcome to Club! You probably didn’t want to be here. But, don’t get discouraged. No one signs up for this membership. Think of it like this: At least you know what the heck is going on now, which is 10 times better than parenting in the dark. Maybe up until this point, you blamed yourself for many of the emotional and behavioral issues your child experienced. You may have even viewed yourself as a “failure” or a “bad” parent because you couldn’t get your child to stop his negative attitude, tantrums and meltdowns. Well, let’s set the record straight.
Children with Asperger’s often exhibit different forms of challenging behavior. It is crucial that these behaviors are not seen as willful or malicious; instead, they should be viewed as connected to the child’s disorder and treated as such by means of thoughtful parenting techniques, rather than by inconsistent punishment or other disciplinary measures that imply the assumption of deliberate misbehavior.
Social and communicative deficits are arguably the most handicapping conditions associated with AS and HFA. Although the term “social communication” is used frequently to encompass these deficits, social communication is actually a redundant term. All communication, by its definition as an exchange of information between speaker and listener, is social in nature.
The strong need to avoid the disruption of routine can make a child with AS look very rigid to the outside world. Parents – and even siblings – can feel held hostage to certain routines or rituals, dreading the meltdown that will ensue if they interfere with them.
When considering the diagnostic criteria for Asperger’s (AS) and the effects of the disorder on a child's adaptive functioning in a social context – we can expect such children to be vulnerable to the development of secondary mood disorders. Research suggests that about 65% of adolescents with AS and HFA have a mood disorder that includes depression and anxiety.
Children with Asperger’s (AS) and High-Functioning Autism (HFA) are prone to greater stress in their daily lives than their “typical” peers. Social interaction – especially with more than one peer in which the AS or HFA child has to identify, translate, and respond to social and emotional cues and cope with unexpected noise levels – inevitably increases stress to a point where his or her coping mechanisms may collapse.