The ABCs of Asperger's Syndrome: An A-to-Z Guide to Understanding the Symptoms of Asperger's

Routine, Sitting, Tantrum

R Is for Routine

Setting times for meals, getting dressed, leaving the house, doing homework, and going to bed are vital elements of a daily schedule. Routines are absolutely necessary and serious meltdowns can be triggered by major or minor changes in the schedule and by changing rules (even if they're to the child's advantage). Set a plan and have everyone in the family stick to it.

Nick: I'm happiest when I know what's going to happen next. On Sunday I get to write on a white board what's going to happen for the week. I don't like surprises or being told something will happen in 10 minutes. I like to know the rules and follow them. My teacher has a lot of rules in our classroom and I like it that way. Sometimes kids make fun of me or call me names when I tell them they are breaking a school rule.

S Is for Sitting

Unless a child with Asperger's is totally involved in what is going on, sitting still is difficult. Muscles may cramp or twitch, which makes sitting still a physical problem. If a child doesn't find what you're saying interesting, she might walk away.

Nick: Sitting for a long time is hard for me, and my body needs to move around. When I was in kindergarten, my legs hurt if we sat on the floor for sharing circle. My teacher got me a special wiggle pillow (it's filled with air that lets me shift my weight without standing up) that made it easier for me to sit longer. Now that I'm older I don't need it anymore. I went to see a play and the special effects were so interesting I could sit through the whole show without having to get up.

T Is for Tantrum

You haven't really seen a tantrum until you've seen one thrown by a child with Asperger's. This is not a hold-your-breath-until-you-get-what-you-want-tantrum, but an out-of-control-ranting-possessed-arms- flailing tantrum. You may never know the reason for the tantrum and sometimes the child doesn't either. Keeping a journal of what happened before the tantrum might help you find the trigger.

Nick: When I'm very tired, I can get out of control because my brain can't do or hear one more thing. I have thrown and broken things I like, tipped over a table, ripped up homework, yelled at people, and started crying. I usually wear myself out, and fall asleep, but I'm fine when I wake up.

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