Special Needs: Parenting a Child with High Functioning Autism or Asperger Syndrome

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Running head: SPECIAL NEEDS: PARENTING A CHILD

Special Needs: Parenting a Child with High Functioning Autism or Asperger Syndrome San Jose State University

Introduction

Parents who have children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) should define their parenting technique more so than parents of neurotypical children. Children with ASD have many different needs. For example, an ASD child has great difficulties with their social skills; this deficiency causes them not to have meaningful social interactions. Their interests are narrow, and it dominates the child's life (Volkmar & Klin, 2000, as cited in Sansosti & Powell-Smith, 2006). Asperger's syndrome or high functioning autistic children are under a special category. The term AS that is used to describe a child with mildest to highest functioning autism disorder (Atwood, 1998, as cited in Sansosti & Powell-Smith, 2006). It is very important that there should be a different approach when parenting and educating a child with AS. Coping with a child that has special needs is very different from a child that is neurotypical. Since 2001 there has been a significant rise with children that have been identified with AS. According to Hyman, Rodier, and Davidson (2001) they reported that the incidence rate for AS is as high as 63 per 10,000 children born. The children attending preschool are ranging from 8.4 per 10,000 with AS (Chakrabarti & Fombone, 2002 as cited in Sansosti & Powell- Smith, 2006). The children ages 7 to 16 are 71 per 10,000 attending schools (Ehlers & Gillberg, 1997 as cited in Sansosti & Powell-Smith, 2006). This research paper addresses issues on how a family with an ASD child is impacted. The first issue that will be discussed is what problems parents experience when parenting a child with ASD. Next, what are the issues within the family unit? Finally, what are the coping strategies? How does the disability impact the family? How can they become a more resilient and healthy family and where do parents turn to for help? Problems with Parenting

Parenting any child can create lots of stress, but parenting a child with AS is a very different experience. There are daily stresses from the day-to-day tasks of caring for the child. The way the parent's socialize and communicate with everyone around them has altered, especially when it comes to relationships. The relationships that an AS child has with caregiver, peers, and educators are very different from that of a neurotypical child. They are very often misunderstood because they look "normal" but have these eccentric social behaviors (Sansosti & Powell- Smith, 2006). According to Dunn, Burbine, Boweres, and Tantleff-Dunn (2001), parents of children with the ASD experience more stress and are more subject to negative outcomes than other parents with non-disabled children and parents of children with other disabilities. Parenting style and expectations change for the family when the child has a disability. The difficulty they face are the additional duties, that are needed for there child. The everyday challenges the parent faces; such as integrating the child successfully into the school environment, having playmates, and looking at the child for what he is and not for what he is not. The parents need to make sure that they can cope emotionally in order to be able to advocate for their child. These parents have to adjust to their child's disability, emotionally, socially, and economically. They way the parents view themselves in society, with their partner, friends, and educators are very different with a neurotypical child. Parents have to put up with judgmental statements from society in regards of their child's disability. Family Issues

Cashin (2004) interviewed nine parents with a diagnoses of ASD or AS, with age ranging of four to nine years. The problems that these parents faced were profound changes to self, how others view them as a parent, having less social contact and experiencing...
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