Children with Asperger’s disorder often find it hard to relate to other people. They might find it difficult to deal with social situations. Learning how best to care for a young child with Asperger’s, and knowing where to get help, can benefit both you and your child.
What is Asperger’s disorder?
Asperger’s disorder, also known as Asperger’s syndrome, was the name given to a lifelong developmental disability that affects how people perceive the world and interact with others.
Asperger’s disorder is no longer diagnosed. The term autism spectrum disorder (ASD) now includes children who were previously described as having Asperger’s, though some children may have been given this diagnosis previously or they or their parents and carers may choose to use this term. Asperger’s disorder is a collection of symptoms that a child might have. It is not all the child is or can be.
Children with Asperger’s disorder often find it hard to communicate. Some kids are affected more than others. Each child is different but they might:
- be obsessed with certain topics or subjects
- show little interest in other people
- find it hard to make and keep friends
- have advanced language skills for their age
- have trouble expressing their own feelings
- find it hard to understand non-verbal communication
- have problems working out what other people are thinking or feeling
Children who have Asperger’s disorder might be aware of some of this, and might find it frustrating. It’s not clear what causes Asperger’s in children. It’s likely that genes play a part.
What to do if your child has Asperger’s disorder
If your child has been diagnosed with Asperger’s disorder or autism spectrum disorder, it is important to get help and support as soon as possible.
A tailored early childhood intervention program can help your child to communicate more effectively and become less frustrated. It can also help them grow and develop, reduce difficult behaviour, and cope better at childcare facilities, pre-school and while preparing for school.
How to care for a child with Asperger’s disorder
Caring for children with Asperger’s can be challenging. It can affect siblings or other children in positive and negative ways and disrupt family life.
You might try comforting your child by teaching them breathing techniques or playing relaxing music.
It’s good to work as part of a team alongside health professionals. Your child might benefit from:
- speech and language therapy, to help them communicate better
- occupational therapy, to help them deal with everyday activities
- psychological therapy, to help with social skills and regulate emotions and stress
- support to ease the transition to school
What help is available?
There are programs available that provide skills and support for parents of children with Asperger’s.
- Autism Spectrum Australia (ASPECT) provides information, diagnostic assessment, and intervention. Call 1800 277 328.
- Each state and territory has an autism association.
- For advice or emotional support, talk to a Pregnancy Birth and Baby maternity child care nurse on 1800 882 436.
- Contact Centrelink for financial help, including payments for carers.
- Through its Helping Children with Autism Program, Medicare covers some assessments and treatments. This is being replaced in parts by the National Disability Insurance Scheme.
The following websites have more information about young children, Asperger's disorder and autism:
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Last reviewed: October 2019