Structure and routine are helpful for any child to feel safe and secure, but a child with Aspergers absolutely needs it! Children with Asperger’s (Aspie’s) are really special kids. They are incredibly smart, extremely passionate, and can be positively anal about organization and routine. It’s not because they think it is nice, or attractive looking, but it’s because it is essential for them to feel safe, and able to function.
Not all of us parents with Aspie’s are built as a type A personality, with perfect order and routine in our homes. In fact, I’m far from that (though I am really trying!). But if you are at your wits end with your childs anger, temper, attitude and melt downs, you may actually be contributing to the chaos without even knowing it.
5 Ways to Help Your Child with Asperger’s
1.) Organize and create order within your home. That includes a structured routine. Wake up at a certain time, have breakfast, make bed, brush teeth, etc. Have a chart if you think it will help, and stick to it. It is especially important that the child with Asperger’s has a space all their own (their own room, or if they share a room, their own part of the room). Organize their clothes, shoes, personal items. Label things, get rid of junk and simplify the area. This allows them to have a safe space to retreat to when they can’t handle the overwhelming world anymore. I have found that while my Aspie loves organization, she is horrible about creating it. So I have to be the one to organize her room, though she has to clean it.
2.) Get a watch with multiple preset timers (or Kindle, iPhone, etc). We used a watch for our daughter to remind her to use the bathroom. Many kids with Asperger’s have issues with incontinence. When our daughter was going to school, and dealing with this awful part of being an Aspie, we used this method to remind her without me having to say, “go to the bathroom”. The watches have timers that can be set to vibrate so the other kids won’t even know. Children should go at least every 2 hours if they have incontinence issues.
3.) Respect their ears, and control the volume. Something that seems loud or annoying to you, may be incredibly loud and awful for them. Their systems can only handle so much stimuli because they process things differently than most of us do. If having the TV loud triggers a meltdown, or a screaming toddler sibling, try to minimize the situation and sound, without punishing the child who – though shouldn’t be given a free pass to freak out, cannot help reacting strongly to something that is overwhelming to them.
4.) Remove gluten and dairy from the diet. It is hugely successful for many families. If your child seems less angry, less upset, etc. then keep them on the diet. If after several weeks you haven’t noticed any changes, then it isn’t worth doing it. I have spoken with occupational therapists who told me that they have seen it work for many children, and if it works, you have to stay on the diet to continue the progress. If you stop, the symptoms will return.
5.) Heal the gut, and control the constipation through supplements and toilet re-training. Autism is a gut disorder, not just neurological. There are supplements that can help the gut to digest foods easier, and promote more normal bowel movements. A few great *supplements to try are probiotics, Glutagenics, fish oil, and digestive enzymes that can be taken with food. For a natural laxative, try magnesium.
*Ask your doctor before trying anything