If you're a parent of a kid with Aspergers, you know the moment. The moment when you realise that the child you thought was just a hyperactive toddler is actually something else.
That there is a biological reason behind his or her behaviour which you previously thought was the terrible twos, and then the terrifying threes, and then the terrible fours.
Seeing it in black and white sucks up your courage and you wonder what ever possessed you to do the things you used to do (like going to the library or to a playgroup) and you think you will never leave the house again until they're all grown up.
This strategy however will probably only last as long as your sanity. So here are a couple of suggestions when you're ready to put on your tantrum-proof vest and head outside.
While going to a restaurant may seem like a nice social outing for the typical family, you might have to think of alternative plans for an Aspie kid. If they're the active type, spending the whole time telling your child to sit still or not throw their food is not very fun. It is also not fun if they decides to break some plates (just for fun).
BBQs or potlucks at someone's house might be a safer alternative. Preferably somewhere with not too many kids (particularly the sensitive types) and a play place they can retreat to while the grown-ups eat.
If you know your child is not the type for Sit-down-on-the-mat-and-listen-to-story at the library there are other activities he or she can do. Aspie kids normally have unique obsessions in specific areas like trains, aeroplanes, astronomy or computers.
Understanding your child's interests is a good way to plan an outing. For example, to the museum, the zoo, an indoor play gym or a special exhibition in your local community.
You just have to pick a time when it's less busy and bring the necessary equipment should a meltdown happen. For example, security blanket in the bag, and an open mind that if things don't work out as planned, It's okay.
The best activities, I think, are outdoors, whether it's a walk in the park or the hills or simply a visit to the local playground. Fresh air and open spaces seem to have a calming effect on children who sometimes have trouble being calm. Also, it's less stressful to handle a tantrum when the only ones bothered by it are the trees.
Going to a Playgroup If you're feeling too fragile for the real world, I can't think of a better place to get out to than your local playgroup for parents in similar situations. These playgroups are often smaller and catered for children with special needs but it doesn't mean it's full of oddballs.
In fact, most of the children look like the kids from any other playgroup. The difference is that you will be among parents who understand that if your child does misbehave, it's not a reflection of bad parenting; if there is a social cue he doesn't understand he will be guided, not judged. But most of all, you will meet people who will understand that the simple social milestones your child reaches such as learning to share, talk, love or make friends are not normal, but momentous.