4 Tips to Help Parents Better Manage Symptoms of Asperger Syndrome (ASD)
The cluster of symptoms formerly classified as Asperger Syndrome (ASD), which is often referred to as HFA by the medical community, include motor delay (odd gait and coordination issues), difficulties with non-verbal communication and subtle social context, repetitive behaviors, anxiety, sensory sensitivities, and narrow interests. (Click here for a more detailed list of signs and symptoms of Asperger Syndrome (ASD).) For parents, managing symptoms of Asperger Syndrome (ASD) can be difficult. Children with ASD have IQs that are average to well above average, so they are often expected to be in a mainstream classroom. Difficulties arise when kids with ASD have trouble understanding social situations and expectations in a typical classroom setting and experience sensory overload from the noise and movement of other students. The great news is that kids with Asperger Syndrome (ASD) can improve with patience and practice. Find below some tips for managing symptoms of Asperger Syndrome (ASD):
- Improve your child’s coordination. Kids with ASD are generally behind the curve when it comes to motor coordination. They may complain that they get dizzy easily, have an odd posture or gait, and generally be considered “clumsy” by their peers. Help your child improve his or her coordination through exercises like jumping jacks and pushups. Strengthening your child’s core will help support his or her spine and encourage proper neural connections. Encourage your child to play catch, dribble a basketball, swing, and ride a bike. If your child is reluctant, begin with 10 to 15 minutes of coordinated, targeted exercises per day and increase once your child becomes more comfortable. At Brain Balance, we know that developing age appropriate motor skills lays the foundation for proper brain development and function. Daily exercise will also help calm your child’s overactive stress response system. While exercise is certainly good for the body, it is also good for the brain.
- Minimize and manage your child’s sensory overload and anxiety. Kids with Asperger Syndrome (ASD) have sensory processing problems and are easily overwhelmed because they have trouble integrating multiple sensory stimuli in a typical fashion. Noises, lights, crowds, and movement that are innocuous to others can be painful for kids with ASD. Certain textures, foods, and smells can also cause sensory overload. Work with your child’s school to schedule sensory breaks into each day, and consult with school staff to help determine which parts of the day are toughest for your child. There may be simple fixes for times of the day (like lunch or art class) that, because they are less structured, cause your child to become easily overwhelmed. Click here for specific information on minimizing sensory overload in kids with special needs. Since anxiety is often co-morbid with sensory issues and Asperger Syndrome (ASD), use these three tips to help calm an anxious child.
- Connect with your child through his or her special interest. If your child with Asperger Syndrome (ASD) loves train schedules, help him or her search the internet to print off schedules from around the world to compare and enjoy. If your child loves American history, read about a time period that interests you both, and discuss it over dinner. Making emotional connections and engaging with your child by sharing his or her special interests can go a long way in helping him or her learn to develop relationships and social skills.
- Make nutrition a priority. Make healthy eating habits and scheduled family dinners the norm for your family. Avoid foods with artificial colors and ingredients as well as common trigger foods like gluten and dairy. Consider nutritional testing to determine if your child has dietary or digestion issues like food sensitivities or vitamin, mineral, and amino acid deficiencies that can exacerbate behaviors associated with Asperger Syndrome (ASD). At Brain Balance, we know that a healthy lifestyle that includes adequate exercise, sleep, and optimal nutrition can help support proper development and age appropriate behavior.