Children that have Asperger’s Syndrome typically have low self esteem because of the negative social experiences they have with other adults and children. However despite this there are things that parents can do to help boost their child’s self esteem. To help understand typically challenges that Aperger’s children have that lower their self esteem and for tips on increasing your child’s self esteem, I have interviewed psychotherapist Terrence Alspaugh, LCPC.
Tell me a little bit about yourself.
“I have been counseling children and families for about 25 years now. I did my clinical training at Johns Hopkins University, and I worked in community mental health agencies before opening my private practice. I provide counseling for children and families who present with a wide variety of concerns, including Asperger’s Syndrome. In my treatment approach, I coordinate care with clients’ providers, such as primary care physicians and psychiatrists.”
What type of challenges does a child with Asperger’s Syndrome have that can negatively lower their self-esteem?
“Children with Asperger’s Syndrome begin to recognize at an early age that most children avoid and reject them. They rarely receive invitations for play dates and birthday parties, and it is very hard for them to establish friendships. On the playground at school and in the community, they observe other children playing together, but they do not know how to join the group. Because they have social skills deficits , when they try to join a group, sometimes those playing together tell them to go away and call them names. Consequently, the cumulative effect for the Asperger’s child is low self-esteeem, because at some level, the child begins to feel that something is wrong with him/her to be treated with rejection and avoidance so often.”
What can a parent do to increase their child who has Asperger’s Syndrome self esteem?
“Parents cannot assume that friendships will develop naturally for a child with Asperger’s Syndrome. Parents of an Asperger’s child need to be intentional about developing relationships with two different sets of parents: 1. parents of other children with Asperger’s Syndrome , and 2. parents of non- Asperger’s Syndrome children who are sympathetic to their child’s condition. With both sets of parents, the goal is for the Asperger’s child is to develop social connections with children who either have Asperger’s Syndrome or with non- Asperger’s Syndrome children who are friendly and easy-going in temperament. It is important for an Asperger’s child to socialize with non- Asperger’s children so that they can observe and model ordinary and healthy social skills. If Asperger’s children socialize exclusively with other Asperger’s children, they miss out on behavioral shaping and modeling experiences with typical peers.”
What type of professional help is available for an Asperger’s child who has low self esteem ?
“Parents need to connect with local community support groups for children with autism and Asperger’s Syndrome. Through these associations, they may learn of social activities as well as professional help available for their children. Some child therapists have social skills groups for children with autism and Asperger’s Syndrome, yet these groups are few and far between. If no social skills groups can be found, it is still worthwhile for an Asperger’s child to work one-on-one with a caring and creative child therapist or play therapist.”
Thank you Terrence for doing the interview on how a parent can increase their child who has Asperger’s Syndrome self esteem. For more information on Terrence Alspaugh or his work you can check out his website on www.familysolutionsofmaryland.com .
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