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Dear Cathi: Boosting The Asperger’s Child’s Self-Esteem

Dear Cathi,

My daughter, Emily, is an eight-year-old second grader who was recently diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome (AS). I’ve always known that Emily is a unique little girl, but I had no idea she might be on the spectrum. I was thrilled that Emily was reading by age four, but curious that she only read material about “bees.” She has virtually no interest in making friends and prefers to stay at home on the computer or with her face in a book (about bees, of course!). When my husband and I learned of her diagnosis, we wasted no time in researching local services for Emily and have already signed her up for pragmatic speech therapy, social skills training, occupational therapy, and after-school tutoring. We both feel very strongly that the more we can give Emily in the way of services, the more quickly Emily will develop socially, emotionally, and intellectually. However, we are concerned that all of this outside therapy will negatively impact Emily’s self-esteem . We don’t want Emily to think that we bring her to all of these appointments because there is something ‘wrong’ with her. We want her to know that we love her just the way she is. How can we help her understand that we’re trying to give her tools so she can succeed and be happy in life, and in the process develop a positive sense of herself as she develops and grows?

Sincerely,

Emily’s Concerned Parents

 

Dear Concerned Parents,

Being a parent is an enormous responsibility. Being the parent of an Asperger’s child is not only an enormous responsibility, but also one that requires you to develop a whole new set of parenting strategies and techniques that will, in all honesty, feel unfamiliar to you at first. The old tried and true methods that were so successful with neurotypical siblings need to be replaced with a new set of parenting skills based on an understanding of and respect for the very different thinking patterns, perspectives and learning styles that are part and parcel of the Asperger’s child.

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