D.W. asks from Roseville, MI on April 26, 2007
Should I Let the Kids at My Daughters School Know She Has Asperger Syndrome?
I was told last year that my daughter has asperger syndrome. It is high functioning autism in case anyone don't know. I know I had never heard of it before. I had been taking her to counseling since 2nd grade, and all the doctors said add. Then last year I took her to a therapist that said asperger syndrome. My daughter is 15 and she is very smart, she has made honor roll every card marking this year. But socially things are very difficult for her. We moved when she was in second grade and the kids never accepted her and she had an awful experience. I was not much help either because I did not know about the asperger syndrome, I did not help her adjust to her new situation. Her self esteem suffered terribly. We just moved back to are old neighborhood last year. Now she goes to school with her best friend she has known since preschool. Her friend knows about her having aspergers and her cousins go there also and they know. My question is should I tell the other kids. Her teacher thinks the kids maybe more sensitive and understanding. My husband thinks they will be meaner, I don't want to make matters worse. I purchased a book that really helps explain it, it is called "Can I tell you about asperger syndrome". It is a very short book that explains aspergers in very simple terms. The teacher thinks maybe if some of these kids read it they will be more understanding. I want to help make things easier but kids can be mean. I don't want them to look at her as a different person. I apreciate any advice anybody may have. Thank you.
M.C. answers from Detroit on April 28, 2007
When I read your request, I was enlightened to hear that your daughter is successful in conquering this obstacle. In my opinion, if I were in your daughter's position, I would become as sophisticated and knowledgeable as I possibly could about Asperger's Syndrome and if any of my classmates questioned me about my socialability, I would explain Asperger's to them--they could learn alot from your daughter's success and knowledge. However, I would not volunteer any information unless asked about myself. Heck, some kids may not even be aware of your daughter's condition. Your daughter is a smart girl, being on the honor roll takes smarts and hard work. Not many kids make the honor roll. Some skate through school and never make honor roll. Praise her for how far she has come. The more knowledgeable she becomes about her condition, the more comfortable and confident she will be in educating those who ask.
R.O. answers from Detroit on April 28, 2007
I think you should tell the other kids.They make fun of her because they dont know whats wrong with her. If they were told what she has, and are educated on it a little, they will understand what she has and be more sympathetic. It will show them its not her fault she is the way she is. I know from experience this should work. We had a kid in our grade (when I was still in school) that had something wrong with him. When he started sharing his disease, he had more friends and people quit making fun of him. I think its a great idea to let the students know whats going on. Good luck!
J. answers from Saginaw on April 27, 2007
I feel for your problem and I was in your shoes on deciding what to do with my son and his classmates. I thought that this would make him "different" if his classmates knew. I talked with the school social worker and the teachers. We ended up having a classroom meeting with my son present where the social worker and myself explained what Aspergers was and the kids were able to ask questions. The biggest problem is the social integration and how hard it is to make friends. The kids were really receptive to this and instead of shying away or thinking something was terribly wrong with my son, they were very receptive and he actually has kids coming up to him and including him in their games and group activities. When I talked with others in the same situtation they had nothing but positive things to say about having a classroom meeting. I hope this helps you out. Good Luck!
J.C. answers from Detroit on April 27, 2007
My son was also recently diagnosed with Asperger's, he will be 15 in July. I have been telling everyone who works with him about it.
Unfortunately he really hasn't any friends because his social skills are that poor.
You also may be surprised by the reactions that you get too. When I was telling people, all of the reactions that I got was everyone saying that everything now makes much more sense now.
I really wish that I had some advice to give, but I am still learning about all of this myself.
A.G. answers from Detroit on April 27, 2007
i would like to say that i don't fully understand asperger syndrome but i would like to offer some advice if that's ok with you. I believe that if you explain to the children within the immediate classroom setting about your daughter's condition things will eventually get better. Yes, i know kids can be cruel but not all kids. I believe that informing the other children will give her a chance to open up about herself and tell what it's like being her and how she deals with things in her everyday life and school (maintaining honor roll status, good job). It has been my experience that kids are very seldom given the opportunity to discuss issues and ask questions about things such as asperger syndrome so therefore they don't understand it and believe that it's cool to make fun of things like this. I see that your husband disagrees because he feels the kids will be cruel, i understand his concerns but as parents we must all understand that we are living in a world that requires us to confront the issue, dispel the rumors, and state the facts. We are teaching our children about the benefits of a good education as well as the consequences of sex, drugs, and alcohol. We have to teach our kids the truth of these matters before other individuals in the world put their spin on things, right? Then i believe its the same in every situation. Afterall, most assumptions about medical conditions, illnesses, etc., are merely made out of ignorance because the individual doesn't understand the situation.
M.M. answers from Detroit on April 27, 2007
Yes, you should share this with the school and children. We are in the Clarkston school district, which is very well known for their excellence in dealing with Autism and Aspergers. One of my very good friends has a son with Aspergers and the entire school is aware of it. My son has Learning Disabilities, attention problems, processing issues and social immaturity and I have found it to be very helpful having the school social worker speak to his class about disabilities in general. My neighbor has had the social worker talk specifically about her son (while her son is out of the classroom). All of this helps the kids gain insight into their peer and become empathetic, helpful and nurturing. It's a given at Andersonville (where my children attend) that there are children throughout the building with special needs and they are for the majority, accepted like everyone else. Now, there are obviously a few kids that are disrespectful and hurtful. You find this everywhere!! I would certainly talk to the IEP team and ask that they help you facillitate something to share with your daughters peers. I wish you the best of luck.
C.H. answers from Jackson on April 28, 2007
I am a daycare provider, different than a teacher but also working with kids. Personally I think that if your daughter is 15 then maybe ask her what she wants to do with regard to telling her classmates. Kids can be mean but chances are that the only ones that will be mean are the same ones that are mean to her now. At least the other kids would have a better understanding of what this is. The school should also be helping her adjust to any changes that may come from telling. There is a ton of information out there that the teachers, counselors, and other parents could share with the other children. There are pros and cons to both decisions but I think your daughter should decide what she wants her classmates to know.
M. answers from Saginaw on April 27, 2007
D., I am a mother of one child who is 7 who has aspergers and a son who is 10 who is autistic. Frist of all I want to say how wonderful you are! I know all to well what this is like. And if you need anything please personally e-mail at ____@____.com must buy The Autism Source Book by Karen Siff Exkorn. It is an excellant book and it will tell you how to talk to teacher's and the students. I believe that it is an awesome idea to teach the kids and the teachers and the dr.'s about aspergers. DO NOT ASSUME that they know about it. I have every year to teach the teachers about autism and asperger's. This book is great it even tells you how to get and what to ask for in an IEP with the school systems. You can get it at any borders book stores or online it is 18 bucks and well worth it. Most kids are open there will always always be kids that will tease but I have found that when the kids have ansewers that they feel more comfortable and know why your daughter may do some of the behaviors that she does. This is also the job of the teachers they need to also educate the students on aspergers. Also Autism Speaks is an awesome website. They send updates and alerts and new info in the world of autism also they explain autism in a way everyone can understand. They keep you updated on new laws trying to get through that have to do with autism. There was recently a program on nickolodeon on autism done by kids I recorded it and have not gotten a chance to watch it. I have jsut learned of a camp in Michigan where autistics can go I have heard it is awesome I am going on May 6 to check it out if you want more info on that I can give it to you. My daughter has a freind too that has really helped her and guided her. Having a peer who can teac your daughter on apprpriate ways of behaving in the social world is awesome. The Autism book talks about that too. autism is an epidemic that is growing more and more. Hang in there if you need anything please contact me. M.