Developing a Plan
Coming up with a concrete plan for how to explain Asperger's to an adolescent is your best approach to this conversation. Since many teenagers with Asperger's do not respond well to change, you will want to figure out how to work the conversation into their daily routine as much as possible. Perhaps there is a time when you sit down with your teenager, such as after school or at dinner, when you will be able to approach the subject and explain the diagnosis.
Write down exactly what you want to say so you do not get thrown off topic by any questions or concerns your teenager raises during the conversation. Points to discuss include what Asperger's syndrome is, how the disorder affects all areas of your teenager's life (social, emotional and physical), and how you will help your teenager prepare for a future with Asperger's syndrome. Talk to your teenager about the limitations faced with having Asperger's syndrome, such as trouble developing social relationships and clumsiness in physical coordination. Assure your teenager that these limitations can be overcome with hard work and support from family and friends. Encourage your teenager to ask questions but do not take it personally if they don't have any. Tell your son or daughter you will be there to provide support in the form of listening and helping in any way you can.
Be prepared for a child who does not want to talk about Asperger's. You may want to utilize some of their own interests in the conversation. You can make comparisons where possible to help your teenager under Asperger's more clearly. For example, if your teenager is interested in trains, you should try to figure out ways to work train comparisons into the conversation. If this is not possible, you need to gently redirect your teen every time he or she changes the subject to keep them focused on the current conversation.
Other teenagers might be extremely concerned with their diagnosis and have many questions for you. You want to be as prepared as possible for questions, such as "What does it mean to have Asperger's" and "Do other kids think/behave/act like me?" Letting your teenager know they are not alone is a good first step to starting the conversation and helping them know they are not the only person in the world who deals with Asperger's. Tell your child having Asperger's is no different than having another disability or disease, such as diabetes or a learning disorder. Asperger's does not mean your teenager is weird or strange, just as a child with diabetes is not weird or strange. The disorder provides your teenager with a different realm to learn from and you should explain that they will need to use a different set of skills to learn things.