Asperger's Syndrome in Young Children: A Developmental Guide for Parents and Professionals

By Laurie Leventhal-Belfer; Cassandra Coe | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 5
The Parents' Journey

This chapter will provide a guide to the journey that parents travel after learning that their child has Asperger's Syndrome. It is important to remember that the direction, pace, and meaning of this journey will vary from parent to parent depending on their personal histories, their role in the child's daily life, their perception of the child's strengths and difficulties, and their experiences with other young children. It is not uncommon for mothers and fathers to see their child very differently and feel as if they are on different paths, meeting each other only intermittently along the way. The diagnosis of Asperger's Syndrome is a lifelong journey, causing parents to reexamine the diagnosis each time their child passes through a new developmental phase, masters new skills, or is confronted with new challenges. We have learned that while the path is not uniform many parents experience, at different stages, a sense of denial, rage and anger, bargaining, depression, advocacy, and acceptance. The chapter will look at each of these phases and how they may differ between parents.

Many parents have passed through the phase of denial long before they take their child to a professional for an evaluation. Often these are the parents who believed very early on that something was out of sync in their child even when others told them they were making too much out of nothing, that all they needed to do was relax, set better limits, or find a new childcare arrangement. For these parents the diagnosis can be a great relief since it confirms their observations that their child is different and that they are not [crazy or neurotic] for being so worried. This does not mean that they do not experience feelings of anger or sadness but rather that they are able to move more quickly after the assessment to becoming their child's advocate. For these parents the feelings of bargaining may be present when they choose to take time off from work or get a loan so that they can enroll their child in an extensive intervention program, hoping that he will be on track by the time he

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