How Does Our Family Respond? ~ 5 of 7

A Life Long Adventure ~ How Does Our Family Respond by Cathy Zimmerman

Before we informed our family of the diagnosis, we made sure we had at least a little grasp of what Asperger Syndrome is and what the future could possibly hold for our son.  I can’t say that we have solid support from all members of our family, or that they really understand what our son has and how it affects us and our life as a family, but we know we aren’t alone.

Because of physical aliments and other circumstances, our family members are not able to take our son and daughter for extended periods, so we can get a break.  Other friends have stepped up and been very helpful in taking our kids for long weekends.  It is crucial to be able to get way and take a break.  If your family is unable or unwilling, find friends, or families familiar with AS, who can and will help out.

Getting family support may be more successful if you can give them information about AS, and share as much as you have learned. Quite likely, it is simply a matter of overcoming a fear factor – they don’t know what AS is; they don’t know how to interact with the child; they come from the old school of blaming the parents for a child’s poor behavior; and the list surely goes on.  Give family members confidence to interact with your child.  Share tools from your tool belt.  Encourage them to share with you when they have a successful interaction with your child.  They may have come up with a new tool that you will want to add to your belt!  This may be overwhelming for them just as it possibly was for you when you first received the diagnosis.  Be encouraging and helpful to them.  It’s not your job to make them accept your child or the diagnosis.  If they can’t get beyond the AS, and being with them is stressful, give them time and space.  Show them love when you have opportunity, but move on to more encouraging family members.  Dwelling on a relationship that is not going well will only wear you down.  Yes, your mental and emotional health really needs to be taken care of, too!

With AS becoming much more common, or at least diagnosed more often, there are more and more articles in newspapers and magazines.  Our family members have been great at reading these and passing them along to us, if we didn’t see them.  This is AS education for them with no effort from us.  YES!!

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