Apr 25, 2007

What do I do for my child?

Here is a question from an anonymous reader:

"I have a 8 year old son who has apergers. I am trying to avoid any anxiety in school years. Please give me some advise on helping him through. You mentioned that Christian High School was your salvation. Why? I would appreciate any suggestions on making friendships, school easier. Thanks."

Here is my disclaimer: I am not a trained clinician. Everything in this blog is just the uninformed opinion of an Aspie guy from Kalamazoo, MI.

I'd like to focus on one specific part of your question: "I am trying to avoid any anxiety in school years."

Take a step back and ask yourself, what are the points that cause my child anxiety? What I think is that there are two core sources of anxiety:
1. Sensory integration / sensory defensiveness
2. Social/Emotional awareness

To me dealing with the sensory issues will bring about so much relief. I'm just learning about that and realising that I'm under so much stress, frustration, and revulsion from sensory input that most people have no trouble dealing with. I must be one tough dude to be distressed this much of the time and still be fairly well balanced.

For the Asperger/Autism person, the world is a chaos of sensory input and they need help feeling grounded and calm. I just started reading a book called Too Loud, Too Bright, Too Fast, Too Tight: What to Do If You Are Sensory Defensive in an Overstimulating World. So far I like it a lot, because the author is explaining what happens in the brain, and how (from a brain chemistry perspective) the exercises she recommends help.

I think that for an eight year old the most important thing is to get some Occupational Therapy (OT)services if you can afford it or insurance covers it. Ask the OT if he/she is familiar with a technique called the "Wilbarger Brushing Protocol". A brief explanation of the technique is at this link. I have not had experience with the technique, but would vouch that deep pressure has helped me.

I sleep under a heavy blanket, and if I could get away with it at work, a weighted vest would be nice. Bike riding, rocking back and forth to music, and stretching are also helpful.

I think that you should also give diet some serious consideration. I think my changes in diet have helped me in various ways. A good place to start in learning about diet is a dull book called Special Diets for Special Kids. My wife owns it, has read it twice, and refers to it with some regularity. There is a sequel to Special Diets for Special Kids, Two, but I don't know what is different about it.

All of the book titles in this blogs are links directly to the books at Amazon.com. If you can't afford to purchase books, check with your local library to see if they have a process for you to request books. The Kalamazoo library has bought all of the books that I have requested (five so far).

This is a place to start. Start there, and let me know how it is going, what you are learning, what works and what doesn't.

In the mean time, start establishing some clear routines for your child. He/she may take some comfort in that. Also, look for an interest or skill at which they can excel and enjoy. It not only helps them with managing emotions, but it will give them a vehicle with which to enter social situations. My son plays trumpet quite well, and it has helped him build relationships in band. My daughter like to run, do crafts, and art.

Don't drive your child, but encourage their passions, and let them excel in an area that appeals to them. Not much money? Look for grants. We got a grant to help pay for trumpet lessons.


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