HELP FOR PARENTS OF CHILDREN WITH ASPERGER'S & HIGH-FUNCTIONING AUTISM

Education and Counseling for Individuals Affected by Autism Spectrum Disorders

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Does My Student Have Aspergers?

“I’m a teacher and I think one of my students may have Aspergers. What things should I look for in determining whether or not this child may have the disorder? Also, is it too early to approach the parents about my concern?”

If you have a basic knowledge of Aspergers symptoms (see below), and based on that knowledge, you suspect Aspergers in one of your students, advise the parents of your concern immediately. It’s better to know than not to know, and the sooner treatment can begin - the better!

If the student in question is having a greater degree of language difficulties than other peers his/her age or has diminished communication skills, and also exhibits a restrictive pattern of thought and behavior, he/she may have Aspergers (or High-Functioning Autism). The peculiar symptom of Aspergers is a youngster’s obsessive interest in a single object or topic to the exclusion of any other. The youngster living with Aspergers wants to know all about this one topic.

Although kids living with Aspergers can manage themselves with their disorder, the personal relationships and social situations are challenging for them. Children with Aspergers have some traits of Autism, especially weak social skills and a preference for sameness and routine. Kids with Aspergers typically develop a good to excellent vocabulary, although they usually lack the social instincts and practical skills needed when relating to others. They may not recognize verbal and non-verbal cues or understand social norms (e.g., taking turns talking or grasping the concept of personal space). Kids with Aspergers typically make efforts to establish friendships, but they may have difficulty making friends because of their social awkwardness. Developmental delays in motor skills (e.g., catching a ball, climbing outdoor play equipment, pedaling a bike, etc.) may also appear in the youngster.

The main difference between Autism and Aspergers is that the youngster suffering from Aspergers retains his early language skills. It is classified as an Autism Spectrum Disorder, one of a distinct group of neurological conditions characterized by a greater or lesser degree of impairment in language and communication skills, as well as repetitive or restrictive patterns of thought and behavior. Unlike young people with Autism, Aspergers kids retain their early language skills. In Autistic kids, language is often absent, lost, limited, or very slow to develop. In Aspergers, however, language development often falls within normal limits.

Advise your student’s parents that many moms and dads find comfort and build acceptance with help from support groups, counseling, and a network of friends, family, and community. A diagnosis is best made with input from caregivers, doctors, and educators who know or who have observed the youngster. A diagnosis is based on a careful history of the youngster’s development, psychological and psychiatric assessments, communication tests, and the parents’ and clinicians’ shared observations. When making a diagnosis, the health professional will see if the boy or girl meets the criteria published in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, a publication of the American Psychiatric Association.

You can best serve this student by learning about Aspergers and providing a supportive classroom environment. Remember, the student, just like every other youngster, has his or her own strengths and weaknesses and needs as much support, patience, and understanding as you can give. Visual supports, including schedules and other written materials that serve as organizational aids, can be helpful.

Teaching Students with Aspergers and High-Functioning Autism


 COMMENTS:

•    Anonymous said... I sure one of my son's teachers had mentioned it to me. He didn't get diagnosed until he was 11, and so missed out on early treatment and intervention. After he was diagnosed I had teachers, coaches and other parents say "I thought that might be it"...why oh why didn't they say anything? I had never even heard of it before.
•    Anonymous said... My daughter was recently diagnosed at 4. Her preschool teachers brought it to my attention. We dismissed it because we didn't see Autism. Then...when we read and did some research, it hit us like a ton of bricks that almost everything mentioned was her to a tee. Do it gently and explain to the parents that this is not a bad thing, and she/he will lead a normal life. Aspies just approach things differently. They see life differently.
•    Anonymous said... Teachers should approach this discussion with a positive attitude and lightly. As someone who was thrown this "he has autism" in kindergarten, I was angry and unconvinced. I didn't know really anything about Aspergers/high functioning autism, and I dismissed the discussion until second grade when a much more polite discussion was brought to me about my son's habits and issues. As a parent, I didn't know that a talking, caring, sensitive and smart child could be aspergers/autistic. The best thing I did to convince myself was to go over to school and observe my son at recess. I then did alot of research and started checking off symptoms...this combined is what convinced me.

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4 comments:

Anonymous said...

Has anyone been through an MRI with their child? The ped refered us tio a neurologist after my son's 9 year check up. I had stressed concern over how weak my son is physically and how he is struggling with gross motor skills. He has fallen up/down the stairs at chool trying to stay up with the class (1st year upstairs). He cannot even hand on the monkey bars let alone do them, but he really wants to. He has taken to getting on top of the monkey bars instead, but I worry abou him falling as it is a struggle. In fact, he has gotten himself up there, then needs help getting down.

Anyway, the ped did some things with him and agreed there was reason to be concerned. He feels he is a good 2-3 years behind. He refered us to a ped neurolist who ordered an MRI & bloodwork to check for muscle disorders, check his thyroid, & make sure there is no fluid in the brain. My son has always had a very large head and she says she likes to check whenever a big head is accompanied by muscle weakness/coordination problems. I'm sure it doesn't help that he has tics and vision issues. He also appears to have delayed reflexes. They have to hit his knee with the thingy 50 times before they get a little reflex. Has anyone else experienced this?

I am really nervous about this. Scanning my childs brain worries me. What if they find something wrong? I honestly just thought OT/PT....What should I expext? They wanted to sedate him, but I refused. He is so sensitive to meds I worry about a reaction. He has been recently diagnosed with ADD as well, so it may be a challenge. I am going to take him tired so hopefully he will fall asleep. I am also hoping I can use the fact he will need an IV if he doesn't hold still as incentive to hold still.

Thanks for any advice or input....I just have so many questions about all of this.

Anonymous said...

I commend you for being a supportive teacher and taking the time to reach out and help a child!

Anonymous said...

In my opinion, it is NEVER too early to help out a family with undiagnosed or suspected Asperger's. I wish I had known much earlier but had no idea that he was different unti lhe was 6! By the time we did the Autism screening, he was 9 and they were asking me about how he was at just 3 years old. It was so hard to remember that far back. Now I am the nosy mom who pays too much attention to other people's kids who seem a little "off" from others. Because early intervention means so much but you can't get help if you don't know!

Jane Case said...

My Grandson that I have bee raising since he was 13 months and will be 17 in Dec. did not get diagnosed with Aspergers until he was a freshman in high school.
I wished that teachers in his past that may have thought there was something more going on with him besides ADHD would have spoke up. I am now scrambling to get all the help, therapy etc. before he turns 18. To all teachers that may read this, please do not hesatate!

My child has been rejected by his peers, ridiculed and bullied !!!

Social rejection has devastating effects in many areas of functioning. Because the Aspergers child tends to internalize how others treat him, rejection damages self-esteem and often causes anxiety and depression. As the child feels worse about himself and becomes more anxious and depressed – he performs worse, socially and intellectually.

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How to Prevent Meltdowns in Aspergers Children

Meltdowns are not a pretty sight. They are somewhat like overblown temper tantrums, but unlike tantrums, meltdowns can last anywhere from ten minutes to over an hour. When it starts, the Asperger's child is totally out-of-control. When it ends, both you and the Asperger’s child are totally exhausted. But... don’t breathe a sigh of relief yet. At the least provocation, for the remainder of that day -- and sometimes into the next - the meltdown can return in full force.

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Parenting Defiant Aspergers Teens

Although Aspergers is at the milder end of the autism spectrum, the challenges parents face when disciplining a teenager with Aspergers are more difficult than they would be with an average teen. Complicated by defiant behavior, the Aspergers teen is at risk for even greater difficulties on multiple levels – unless the parents’ disciplinary techniques are tailored to their child's special needs.

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Aspergers Children “Block-Out” Their Emotions

Parenting children with Aspergers and HFA can be a daunting task. In layman’s terms, Aspergers is a developmental disability that affects the way children develop and understand the world around them, and is directly linked to their senses and sensory processing. This means they often use certain behaviors to block out their emotions or response to pain.

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Older Teens and Young Adult Children With Aspergers Still Living At Home

Your older teenager or young “adult child” isn’t sure what to do, and he is asking you for money every few days. How do you cut the purse strings and teach him to be independent? Parents of teens with Aspergers face many problems that other parents do not. Time is running out for teaching their adolescent how to become an independent adult. As one mother put it, "There's so little time, yet so much left to do."

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Living with an Aspergers Spouse/Partner

Research reveals that the divorce rate for people with Aspergers is around 80%. Why so high!? The answer may be found in how the symptoms of Aspergers affect intimate relationships. People with Aspergers often find it difficult to understand others and express themselves. They may seem to lose interest in people over time, appear aloof, and are often mistaken as self-centered, vain individuals.

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Online Parent Coaching for Parents of Asperger's Children

If you’re the parent of a child with Aspergers or High-Functioning Autism, you know it can be a struggle from time to time. Your child may be experiencing: obsessive routines; problems coping in social situations; intense tantrums and meltdowns; over-sensitivity to sounds, tastes, smells and sights; preoccupation with one subject of interest; and being overwhelmed by even the smallest of changes.

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Unraveling The Mystery Behind Asperger's and High-Functioning Autism

Parents, teachers, and the general public have a lot of misconceptions of Asperger's and High-Functioning Autism. Many myths abound, and the lack of knowledge is both disturbing and harmful to kids and teens who struggle with the disorder.

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Parenting Children and Teens with High-Functioning Autism

Two traits often found in kids with High-Functioning Autism are “mind-blindness” (i.e., the inability to predict the beliefs and intentions of others) and “alexithymia” (i.e., the inability to identify and interpret emotional signals in others). These two traits reduce the youngster’s ability to empathize with peers. As a result, he or she may be perceived by adults and other children as selfish, insensitive and uncaring.

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to read the full article...

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