Wednesday, January 27, 2010

A New Light

Joining AANE was a smart move that has already paid off; not to mention a step that I wish I had taken a few years ago. In one wonderful article – and there are many others available on the web site or via links to related web sites – I picked up so many useful tips.

Stephanie Loo, AANE’s Director of Teen Services, posted an article entitled “Tips for Parents of Teens with Asperger’s Syndrome.” Again I stress that my son has Nonverbal Learning Disorder (not AS), but missed social cues are hallmarks of both. Many of the things we’ve been doing for our son were confirmed; and there were many other tips in the short article that we had never thought of.

For example, she encourages parents to foster independence. Since his critical attack of meningo-encephalitis in eighth grade and the subsequent rehabilitation, my son has been getting around our city on his own. We’ve encouraged him on his “walkabouts” and also made sure he knew the ropes of our extensive public transportation system.

Ms. Loo points out that many teens with these disabilities like to unwind with an evening walk (as our son has been doing while at school). When I get those evening calls from my son that he is “wandering aimlessly,” I sometimes worry for his safety. It did not occur to me that campus or town police might consider such behavior suspicious. To avoid this, the author advises teens to carry a wallet disclosure card (available on the AANE website). She also suggests that parents might want to contact local police community relations with a heads-up on some of the “quirks” of teens with social communications issues.

I don’t believe that I need to take that action for my son – his behavior is usually fairly conventional. However, every child is different and every parent should probably consider whether initiating contact with local police might be a sound way of avoiding being contacted at some later time.

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