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

Education and Counseling for Individuals Affected by Autism Spectrum Disorders

Search MyAspergersChild.com

Treatment for Asperger's Syndrome

Aspergers is not widely recognized by the public or by health care providers. What does it mean to have Aspergers? Do they have severe AD/HD, mild autism, learning disabilities, or are they just “nerds?”

For years, psychiatrists have debated how to classify and subdivide the category of Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD). Pervasive Developmental Disorder is a category that contains several specific diagnoses. People with PDD have problems with the social interaction and often show delays in several other areas. These other areas may include language, coordination, imaginative activities, and intellectual functioning. The degree of severity can vary tremendously in the various forms of PDD. Autism is one of the more severe forms of PDD. A person with Autism has marked difficulty relating to other human beings. He or she frequently has delayed or absent speech and may be mentally retarded. Aspergers is on the milder end of PDD. People with Aspergers generally have normal intelligence and normal early language acquisition. However, they show difficulties with social interactions and non-verbal communications. They may also show perseverative or repetitive behaviors.

The Youngster: A preschool aged youngster might show difficulty understanding the basics of social interaction. He or she may have difficulty picking up social cues. He may want friends but be unable to make or keep any friends.

Elementary School Aged Youngster: One often hears the phrase, “poor pragmatic language skills.” This means that the individual cannot use the right tone and volume of speech. He may stand too close or make poor eye contact. He may have trouble understanding age-appropriate humor and slang expressions. Many are clumsy and have visual-perceptual difficulties. Learning difficulties, subtle or severe, are common. The youngster may become fixated on a particular topic and bore others with frequent or repetitive talk even when the other kids have given clear signals that they are no longer interested in the topic. Some have difficulties tolerating changes in their daily routine. Change must be introduced gradually.

The Teenager: This may be the most difficult time for a person with Aspergers. Those with milder forms of the disorder may first come to treatment when they are in middle school. In adolescence, social demands become more complex. Subtle social nuances become important. Some may show an increase in oppositional or aggressive behavior. People with Aspergers have difficulty understanding which of their peers might want to be a friend. A socially marginal boy might try to date the most popular girl in his class. He will probably experience rejection. He is unaware that some other girl might accept his invitation. Because of his social naiveté, he may not realize when someone is trying to take advantage of him. He can be especially vulnerable to manipulation and peer pressure.

Adulthood: There is less information on Aspergers in adulthood. Some people with mild Aspergers are able to learn to compensate. They become indistinguishable form everyone else. They marry, hold a job and have kids. Other people live an isolated existence with continuing severe difficulties in social and occupational functioning. People with Aspergers often do well in jobs that require technical skill but little social finesse. Some do well with predictable repetitive work. Others relish the challenge of intricate technical problem solving. I knew a man, now deceased, who had many of the characteristics of Aspergers. He lived with his mother and had few social contacts. When he visited relatives, he did not seem to understand how to integrate himself into their household routine. When the relatives would explain the situation to him, he was able to accept it. However, he was unable to generalize this to similar situations. Although he was a psychologist, his work involved technical advisory work, not face-to-face clinical sessions.

Associated Difficulties: Aspergers may be associated with learning difficulties and attention deficit disorder. Indeed, many kids and adolescents with Aspergers have previously been diagnosed with AD/HD instead of Aspergers. People with AD/HD may have difficulty with social interaction, but the primary difficulties are inattention, hyperactivity and impulsivity. In people with Aspergers, the social awkwardness is a greater concern. As people with Aspergers enter adolescence, they become acutely aware of their differences. This may lead to depression and anxiety. The depression, if not treated, may persist into adulthood.

Treatment for Aspergers—

Medications: There is no one specific medication for Aspergers syndrome. Some are on no medication. In other cases, we treat specific target symptoms. One might use a stimulant for inattention and hyperactivity. An SSRI such as Paxil, Prozac or Zoloft might help with obsessions or perseveration. The SSRIs can also help associated depression and anxiety. In people with stereotyped movements, agitation and idiosyncratic thinking, we may use a low dose antipsychotic such as risperidone.

Social Skills Training: This is one of the most important facets of treatment for all age groups. I often tell moms & dads and educators that the individual needs to learn body language as an adult learns a foreign language. The individual with Aspergers must learn concrete rules for eye contact, social distance and the use of slang. Global empathy is difficult, but they can learn to look for specific signs that indicate another individual’s emotional state. Social skills are often best practiced in a small group setting. Such groups serve more than one function. They give people a chance to learn and practice concrete rules of interpersonal engagement. They may also be a way for the participant to meet others like himself. People with Aspergers do best in groups with similar people. If the group consists of street-wise, antisocial peers, the Aspergers individual may retreat into himself or be dominated by the other members.

Educational Interventions: Because Aspergers covers a wide range of ability levels the school must individualize programming for each student with Aspergers. Educators need to be aware that the student may mumble or refuse to look him in the eye. Educators should notify the student in advance about changers in the school routine. The student may need to have a safe place where he can retreat if he becomes over stimulated. It may be difficult to program for a very bright student with greater deficits. In one case, a student attended gifted classes but also had an aide to help her with interpersonal issues. That student is now in college. Kids with Aspergers are often socially naive. They may not do well in an Emotionally Disturbed class if most of the other students are aggressive, street-wise and manipulative. I have seen some do well when placed with other students with pervasive developmental disorders. Some do well in a regular classroom with extra support. This extra help might include an instructional assistant, resource room or extra training for the primary educator.

Psychotherapy: People with Aspergers may have trouble with a therapist who insists that they make an early intense emotional contact. The therapist may need to proceed slowly and avoid more emotional intensity than the patient can handle. Concrete, behavioral techniques often work best. Play can be helpful in a limited way if the therapist uses it to teach way of interaction of the therapist uses play as a break form an emotionally tense if it is used to lower emotional tension. Adults and kids may also do well in group therapy. Support groups can also be helpful.

Moms & dads play an important role in helping their youngster or adolescent. This youngster or adolescent will require time and extra nurturance. It is important to distinguish between willful disobedience and misunderstanding of social cues. It is also important to sense when the youngster is entering emotional overload so that one can reduce tension. They may need to prepare the youngster for changes in the daily routine. One must choose babysitters carefully. Moms & dads may have to take an active role in arranging appropriate play dates for the younger youngster. Some moms & dads seek out families with similar kids. Kids with Aspergers often get along with similar playmates. Moms & dads should help educators understand the world from the youngster’s unique point of view. Parenting an adolescent with Aspergers can be a great challenge. The socially naive adolescent may not be ready for the same degree of freedom as his peers. Often moms & dads can find a slightly older adolescent who can be a mentor. This person can help the adolescent understand how to dress, and how to use the current slang. If the mentor attends the same school, he can often give clues about the cliques in that particular setting.

Grown-ups may benefit from group therapy or individual behavioral therapy. Some speech therapists have experience working with adults on pragmatic language skills. Behavioral coaching, a relatively new type of intervention, can help the adult with Aspergers organize and prioritize his daily activities. Grown-ups may need medication for associated problems such as depression or anxiety. It is important to understand the needs and desires of that particular adult. Some adults do not need treatment. They may find jobs that fit their areas of strength. They may have smaller social circles, and some idiosyncratic behaviors, but they may still be productive and fulfilled.

The Parenting Aspergers Resource Guide: A Complete
Resource Guide For Parents Who Have Children Diagnosed
With Aspergers Syndrome.

No comments:

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.

Click here to read the full article…

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.

Click here for the full article...

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.

Click here to read the full article…

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.

Click here to read the full article…

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."

Click here to read the full article…

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.

Click here to read the full article…

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.

Click here to read the full article...

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.

Click here to read the full article...

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.

Click here
to read the full article...

My Aspergers Child - Syndicated Content