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Wonders and Worries of Parenting a Child With Asperger Syndrome & Nonverbal Learning Disorder

Little, Liza PsyD, RN; Clark, Robin R. MS, ARNP

MCN, The American Journal of Maternal/Child Nursing: January-February 2006 - Volume 31 - Issue 1 - p 39-44
Feature articles

PURPOSE: To describe the prevalent joys and pressing concerns of parents of children with Asperger syndrome (AS) and nonverbal learning disorder (NLD).

DESIGN AND METHODS: An exploratory study of written responses of 103 matched couples from survey data gathered in a larger study that examined the parental experiences of raising a child with AS and NLD. Participants were recruited from two national Internet Web sites for parents of children with AS and NLD. Data were qualitatively analyzed to develop categories and themes.

RESULTS: Prevalent joys of mothers and fathers included child characteristics such as personality traits of the child, observing their child happy, and watching him/her grow, mature, and succeed. Parents’ most pressing worries focused on adulthood and the future of their child.

CLINICAL IMPLICATIONS: The findings of this study can inform the care given by nurses in the pediatric, family, and mental health settings. Family nurses are in a unique position to assess and respond to the special adaptive needs of families of children with learning disorders such as AS/NLD. As part of routine health screening and well-child visits, providers can ask about the joys and assess the beliefs and worries parents have; this could lead to reinforcement of their strengths and motivations and better meeting of their needs.

The challenging aspects of parenting children with AS/NLD are documented in this poignant study, along with their joyful times.

Liza Little is an Associate Director of Clinical Services, Spurwink, Portland, ME. She can be reached via e-mail at

Robin R. Clark is a Nurse Practitioner, Department of Neurology and Neurosurgery, Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center, Lebanon, NH.

© 2006 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.