Teenagers with Asperger’s syndrome are often not found to be physically aggressive unless they feel threatened in some manner. For some children with Asperger’s syndrome, aggression may become quite common when reaching adolescence and this may be clearly influenced by the parenting styles of the child’s mother and father. In fact, one of the key factors in determining an Asperger’s syndrome child’s tendency to develop aggression later in life may involve the presence of a maternally sensitive woman who can balance the discipline and aggression in life.
In many of today’s families, it is not uncommon to find either a mother or father is absent from the child’s life. Because a child’s mental health is often greatly influenced by the presence of maternal nurturing and the balance of a father’s discipline, when either of these are absent in the life of an Asperger’s syndrome child, aggression usually develops.
If you are the parent of an Asperger’s syndrome child, it is important to provide this balance to your child rearing efforts. If you are a single mother, and your child’s father is not present, you can expect your child’s aggression will undoubtedly be present as you provide the maternal sensitivity your child needs while also attempting to be the disciplinarian. Because Asperger’s children have trouble differentiating social cues, and are confused by discipline when expressed by their mother, the authoritarian type of parenting is often met with aggression. For this reason, having a male role model who can provide that discipline while you provide the maternal sensitivity will go a long way in your child’s long term development.
Conversely, if you are a father who is raising an Asperger’s syndrome child alone, you will want to be sure that you find ways to be sensitive and nurturing to your child’s needs. Because fathers are more likely to be the authoritarian, a woman’s sensitivity will be important in your child’s mental health. Often, this role can be filled by a woman who is an aunt or even a grandmother and does not necessarily mean that a step-mother or step-parent is necessary.
Asperger’s syndrome is a developmental disorder that affects many teenagers by resulting in abnormal social development. For parents of Asperger’s syndrome children, offsetting the risk for development of aggression is most likely achieved by first identifying your parenting style – as either disciplinarian or nurturing – and then finding someone who can fulfill the role as the opposite parenting style. Trying to manage both the motherly role and the fatherly role will ultimately lead to confusion in your child and this can only further exacerbate the Asperger’s syndrome complications into adulthood.
Sources: Parenting the Special Needs Child, 2004: 4;5-12.